Shannon Austin

“I really like to find the “authentic” in founders—to get to the heart of their story in ways that others can’t.”

“I don’t think anyone would have predicted I’d end up in venture capital. My background and education are pretty different from most people in this field. And yet, strangely, the imposter syndrome I carry with me helps me to find the “authentic” in founders, to get to the heart of the story, in ways that others can’t. It’s worked out well. Being a Southerner doesn’t hurt, either.

A founder once referred to me as “the fairy godmother of fintech.” While that’s a thoughtful thing to say, I’m not sure I want to be associated with pumpkins and glass slippers; I prefer that founders be real, and do the work it takes to be successful.

I know firsthand that starting a company is a lot of work. Things don’t always turn out the way you think they will, and you have to be open to hearing what your customers really want you to be. Sometimes a startup idea turns out to be too early for the world, and that can be painful if you can’t wait for the world to catch up. There are many successful businesses today that are based on concepts that didn’t work at all in the mid-1990s. Webvan, meet Instacart.

People are surprised when they hear that in my journalism career, I went back to high school undercover, once rode Harleys with a gang of Outlaws, and jumped out of a hot air balloon. I always wanted to be a foreign correspondent, though—and in the absence of war I guess I made my own danger.

I still love a challenge. And I really enjoy working in a field where we can help fintech be a force for good.”

—Shannon Austin is a partner at Financial Venture Studio, where she leads the firm’s communications advisory for portfolio companies. She spent the previous two decades helping small companies grow using effective messaging and media outreach. Before joining FVS, Shannon led all marketing and communications efforts in support of the Financial Solutions Lab, where she advised more than 33 fintech startups and helped some important stories make it into Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Forbes, and more.

Shannon previously managed global communications from Europe for a consumer tech brand in the Apple space. She also served as VP Marketing/Communications for a financial services software firm, where she handled investor relations during and after the firm’s IPO. Shannon began her career as a journalist and has also worked in advertising.

She lives “in the woods” just outside of Washington, D.C. with her husband, two girls, and one very good dog.

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