Unstable Times, Unbreakable Business: 5 Key Takeaways from Upgrade’s Renaud Laplanche

Adam Goller, EVP, Head of Fintech Banking, Cross River

May 10, 2024

2 min read

In a fascinating 40-minute conversation, I had the chance to chat with Renaud Laplanche, the co-founder and CEO of Upgrade and a true fintech pioneer. We discussed his experience navigating tricky economic waters and building a thriving business. Here are 5 key takeaways from our conversation.

  1. Embrace adversity as a learning opportunity. Renaud recounted how the loss of his first software company’s World Trade Center office on 9/11 forced he and his team to come together, overcome hardship, and rebuild. This adversity strengthened the team and led to unforeseen improvements, like a renewed cost structure and customer diversification.

  2. Prioritize customer needs. Upgrade responded to inflation by creating rewards programs that helped consumers manage rising costs. For example, they acted quickly to offer cash-back rewards in spend categories most impacted by inflation, such as gasoline, “This was our way to help consumers cope with this environment,” Renaud explained. 

  3. Agility is the future of fintech. Upgrade focuses on products less impacted by credit conditions, such as checking accounts and home improvement loans. They can quickly adapt their offerings to meet the evolving needs of the market. Renaud also emphasized that talented people are a company's greatest asset. While AI is exciting, Upgrade takes a cautious approach, using it to co-pilot tasks alongside human expertise. 

  4. Strong partnerships are essential. Collaboration with the right partners, like Cross River, allows Upgrade to innovate as exemplified through their unique OneCard.  He emphasized the importance of open communication between industry partners.

Looking ahead, from our conversation, Renaud remains optimistic about fintech's ability to grow and create new value for consumers.  
Watch our full conversation here: