Startup Spotlight: Gilded, an Open Finance Network for Business

The Idea Village is a New Orleans-based entrepreneurial support organization that runs two accelerator programs: VILLAGEx and ENERGYx. Over a dozen ventures are currently going through the programs, and all of them will be spotlighted on Silicon Bayou News. 

Next up is Gilded, a startup that has created a financial platform powered by crypto and blockchain. We heard from the company’s founder and CEO, Gil Hildebrand.

Describe your company in two sentences or less.

Gilded empowers businesses to transact globally, using blockchain to unlock more efficient business operations. Our seamless invoicing, payment, and accounting software helps businesses get paid faster and more transparently, with dramatically lower fees.

How did you come up with the idea behind your company?

I spent 9 years as cofounder of Squidoo, a social publishing platform where we paid half our revenue back to the users who created content on our platform. I built the billing and payment systems used to pay tens of millions of dollars to people all over the world, and I saw first-hand the difficulty of paying people electronically and internationally. Since then, I’ve worked with remote teams on 4 continents and experienced over and over the difficulty in paying people globally. When I discovered blockchain and digital currency, I knew I found my calling.

Why is your solution the best one for your customers?

Traditional financial infrastructure wasn’t designed for global commerce. With blockchain and digital currency, we’re able to offer payments that are much faster and more affordable than any bank could offer. 

The challenge with using digital currency today is that it requires too much technical knowledge. Just like you shouldn’t have to know how an internal combustion engine works in order to start your car, you shouldn’t need to know how digital currency works in order to take advantage of it. And that’s what Gilded set out to solve. 

Gilded offers the only seamless, end-to-end digital currency payment and accounting solution for businesses today.

And why are you the team to make this happen?

I spent the last 15 years working with remote teams, giving me tremendous insight into the challenges businesses face with international payments. Our CFO Joey Ryan’s experience at LaPorte and EY is critical to us perfectly tailoring our product to finance and accounting professionals. And our incredibly smart, talented software development and sales teams give Gilded everything we need to make a dent in the future of work.

Why do you think New Orleans was the best place for you to found this company in?

The majority of our founding team met at the New Orleans Ethereum Meetup, which our CTO Ken Gaulter organized. Also in regular attendance at the meetup was our CXO Raina Casbon-Kelts, a true Bitcoin believer and our strongest customer advocate. Gilded was born and bred in New Orleans. 

As a startup in the FinTech/blockchain industry, in many ways it already feels like we are “remote” compared to our peers in cities like New York and San Francisco. Perhaps this gives us more empathy for professionals around the world who deserve equal access to meaningful work and opportunities for career growth. By making global commerce more efficient, we’re better connecting people.

On a practical level, our home base in New Orleans allows us to keep expenses down while enjoying a much higher quality of life. Plus, we have a great network of mentors here including Dave Guilford, David Dart, and everyone on the Idea Village team.

Tell me about a current goal you are working towards with your company.

In the next two weeks we’re deploying a solution for a major pilot customer who will be doing $10M in payments through our platform. It’s the first full test of our end-to-end solution. We’ve been working on it for months, and once deployed, we’ll prove that our model can significantly reduce friction for companies doing business internationally.

What’s a challenge you are currently facing as a company?

Blockchain technology today is like using the internet in the mid-90s. Because the technology is still being developed, it’s very difficult to craft an experience that’s simple to understand and efficient to use. 

There is no shortage of incumbent products in the international payments space, and the bar for user experience is already very high.

But I think we can beat them. If we are successful in creating a superior user experience using blockchain and digital currency, we’ll have a very strong product offering that’s able to outpace the titans of traditional finance.

What has been your proudest moment so far as one of the founders of this company. 

In January we were invited to attend an Executive Roundtable for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). We had the opportunity to present on stage to leaders of the accounting industry. We laid out our vision for how blockchain will transform accounting over the next 10 years. This was a very proud moment for me personally, as it was validation that we are working on a meaningful problem. Accounting is the language of business, and if we can make that language more efficient, we can create long-lasting ripple effects throughout our society.

What’s a fact about yourself that people would be surprised to hear. 

I love doing handstands! Maybe that’s not a bad trait for an entrepreneur. Flipping the world on its head helps us identify opportunities for massive value creation. Plus, being upside down is something that all entrepreneurs need to get comfortable with. It’s a roller coaster, for sure. Buy the ticket, take the ride.