(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Daria is a FinTech entrepreneur and CEO of Crassula – open-banking FinTech platform.
She has over 8 years experience in e-commerce and payments. She has been leading the strategy and international business development for several payment companies and was responsible for signing international agreements with Paypal, IBM, Alipay, Riot Games, and several other leading names.

What makes you do what you do?

My company is called Crassula and it is a software platform that helps companies to create their own White Label FinTech solutions. The most interesting thing about my job is to create something that didn’t exist before. And this goal is achievable in multiple directions – every day together with team we create top-notch payments, banking, wallet, crypto solutions and launching them with the newly-built companies or the ones that are launching new types of services. Thus we can clearly see the results of our work in IT product, get feedback from the clients, use the services by ourselves and understand what we did right and what can be improved. We were all meant to be creators, so this opportunity is the main inspiration.


How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I never thought about FinTech (Financial Technology) until I started my career as a customer support representative at international payments company in my early 20’s – this was supposed to be a temporary job for a couple of months, but FinTech interested me more and more and I soon started to move up to the international business development position. At that point I’ve met my co-founder and we started our own company together to address the pains that existed in the space. We’ve created PSP solution first and soon started to create products as White Label, organizing all the solutions as modules to the platform. Our next big goal is to reach maximum automation so that the companies could build their products as in a constructor.


Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

I was lucky enough to have my co-founder, Alexander Novozhenov by my side, so we’ve shared rises and falls of a new business. Each of us has its own skillset, so in different situations we’re using all of the advantages that we have. I always recommend having co-founder if you start a new business when I’m asked about how to stay motivated or how to avoid anxiety, because that’s the person who will cheer you up when things get worse or put you back to the ground when you’re too arrogant.


Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

I don’t have a mentor and sometimes I participate as a business mentor by myself in different events and organizations, however in some questions I do need the consultations. The bright example would be dealing with regulations – when GDPR regulation was released in the EU, we were attending the seminars, consulted with the lawyers and with companies that already implemented the regulations, shared the experience with other companies in our space, because it was important to do everything right. In many cases my co-founder supports me with advice since he has a rich experience in business and we are sailing one boat.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

Well, for me the most important thing is to give the employees an understanding and feeling that we are all one organism and we are all building important solutions. My partner and I never use carrot and stick method – it’s always about a carrot. Such friendly environment makes teammates value the company and when someone new jumps in, he or she immediately understands that Crasssula is the company worth working for and trying to do their best. Also the important thing is solving interesting issues and working on challenging tasks. To my mind FinTech is the space that rarely has boring tasks and our team shares that mindset that allows us to agree on that. Finally, education is important too and we never skip the research phase and all the teammates are always open to share the experience with each other, so it’s a work-play-learn environment.


Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Consciously I’m supporting diversity through telling my story in the business. For some women my example can become a good motivation and it could potentially push someone towards starting a new business or discovering career in IT. I would like to see more female candidates when we’re hiring to the team, but unfortunately in many cases a stereotype about women and men professions plays its role and we see only one female candidate in ten male. I also would like to add that diversity for me is an equality, meaning that if we have one strong and skilled candidate vs one weak and unprofessional candidate, we would choose the first one, no matter if it would be a man or a woman.


What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

There’s one thing that separates the leader from a crowd in any industry – that person is someone who’s not afraid to take a responsibility for the decisions, even if the decisions are not popular. A good leader always finds the way to inspire the team or to cheer people up when things don’t go as expected. You can’t afford yourself to rely on chance to be recognized, to set partnership or to close the desired deal – it takes time and work to be prepared well and to try to know everything about the industry.


Advice for others?

The only advice I would give is don’t be afraid to start. Whether you are starting a new career, new business, new project, there is always a chance of failure. But you know what? Everybody fails. So don’t let your fear hold you back – there’s only one life to make something wonderful happen.

If you’d like to get in touch with Daria Dubinina, please feel free to reach out to her [email protected]



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