Hot Dogs and Disruptive Innovation: My First Few Weeks at Aspiration

I moved to Los Angeles from New York City on October 30th of this year armed with two large suitcases filled to the brim with only the essentials: clothes, toiletries, cell phone chargers and a full-body sized hot dog suit in preparation for my first L.A. Halloween. I arrived to work on November 3rd eager to contribute and excited about being a part of Aspiration.

I left my job at one of the world’s largest investment firms and moved across the country because I see Aspiration as having the chance to bring “disruptive innovation” to the financial services industry. As defined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation is the “phenomenon by which an innovation transforms an existing market or sector by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high cost are the status quo. Initially, a disruptive innovation is formed in a niche market that may appear unattractive or inconsequential to industry incumbents, but eventually the new product or idea completely redefines the industry.”

“Complication and high cost” definitely sums up the status quo in financial industry. And while serving everyday investors is not a niche, it has been a group of customers that have been seen as burdensome and “inconsequential to industry incumbents.” By making investment products accessible and affordable, Aspiration has the opportunity to truly shake up the norm in the investment business.

My hot dog costume is back in my closet until next year – and my business suits are all still back in New York – but, after working at large, layered financial institutions, I’m enjoying being part of a fast paced start-up environment where our business grows and evolves on a daily basis. As Aspiration strives to create a simple, convenient, accessible and affordable solution to America’s middle class investing woes, we also hope to bring the kind of disruptive innovation that can improve people’s lives.

Photo by Aydin Palabiyikoglu

Sean Leahy

Financial Operations Associate