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Interview with Theodora Lau

by | Apr 24, 2019 | Interviews, ,

Theodora Lau

Theodora Lau

Founder of Unconventional Ventures, Speaker, Writer, Startup Advisor

Key Topics:Fintech, Longevity, AI, Diversity, Wealth Management
Location:Washington, D.C., USA

Theodora (Theo) Lau is speaker, writer, and advisor, whose work seeks to spark innovation to improve consumer financial well-being and health. As founder of Unconventional Ventures, she focuses on developing and growing an ecosystem of financial institutions, corporates, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists to better address the unmet needs of consumers (e.g. older adults), with keen interests in women and minority founders. As part of her work, she regularly mentors and advises FinTech startups; she is also recognized as LinkedIn Top Voice for Economy and Finance, and Top FinTech influencer by various publications including Onalytica, Retail Banker International, and FinTech Finance. She co-hosts Rhetoriq, a podcast on longevity and fintech, and runs a weekly blog on Irish Tech News. She is a frequent contributing writer and speaker for top industry publications and conferences.

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

Through my work with a local non-profit a few years ago, I started exploring the startup ecosystem for technology solutions around ageing population, and the challenges faced by “minority” entrepreneurs that are not based in the major hubs. I was also writing and speaking more – and eventually started Unconventional Ventures with my co-founder Bradley Leimer to pursue our mutual interests in creating a more equitable society and to make banking better. I have also started a weekly blog (distributed by Irish Tech News), and continue to contribute regularly to various industry publications and corporates, along with a podcast (Rhetoriq) on longevity and fintech innovation.

What topic areas are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about solutions that can improve well-being of the society, especially those that are under-served (women, gig workers, older adults). I believe technology should be age-agnostic – and there are lots of opportunities that can be well-served by advances in technology, including leveraging AI and advanced analytics for wealth management, personal finance management, and financial care-giving. Voice technology is also another area I am closely following – it is a solution that has great potential in bringing communities closer together and preventing isolation for older adults.

Which influencers influence you within those key topics?

There are many brilliant minds within our community that are inspiring; that includes (but not limited to) Spiros Magaris, Bradley Leimer, Jim Marous, Brett King, Chris Skinner, and Danielle Guzman. There are also those who are not active on social media but are equally influential in shaping my thoughts.

Outside of your key topics who else influences you?

I read three papers on a daily basis (Financial Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal), and I also read HBR, Fast Company, and other technology magazines. Reading is a crucial part of the work that we do, and thankfully, it is also a habit that I have developed since childhood. I read to keep up with technology trends and to learn something new. Some of my favorite reads include 100-Year Life (by Professor Andrew Scott), AI Superpowers (by Dr Kai-Fu Lee), 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (by Yuval Noah Harari), and Deep Thinking (by Garry Kasparov), and Nomadland (by Jessica Bruder).

How would you describe your offline influence?

I am an advisor for two FinTech startups: Bond and Envel. I have been engaged in multiple paid projects for the past few years. I speak regularly at industry events, including Milken Global Conference, MIT Tech Review, Money20/20, Finovate, and Source Media. I am also a regular contributor to publications such as American Banker, Financial Brand, and FinTech Futures. Aside from our own podcast on Rhetoriq, I also join in the Breaking Banks podcast from time to time. I collaborate with various brands including Adobe, IBM, Capgemini, Oracle, and Salesforce on special events and topics around AI and Future of Work.

What are your passions outside of work?

Reading, running, and fine dining.

If a brand wanted to work with you, what offline / online activities would you be most interested in?

I’d be interested in product innovation, speaking opportunities, podcasts, interviews, webinars, research/whitepaper, and twitter chats.

What brands have you worked with?

Corporates include Adobe, Oracle, AARP, Capgemini, IBM, Mercer, PwC, and BAI. I have also worked with incubators including Plug and Play, Village Capital, and Startupbootcamp.

Which non-paid activities would you be keen to take part in if the opportunity raised your profile or delivered value to your audience?

I would be keen to provide a quote for content or news article, share / create a social post, or participate in a podcast or webinar. I can speak at or attend an event but the engagement must include compensation for travel at minimum.

Depending on the extent of work required I would also be interested in co-creating long form content (blogs, white papers, ebooks, research), participating in online chats (e.g. Twitter chat, Crowdchat) and creating video content.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

Twitter and LinkedIn will be the best way to connect with me.