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Founders Everywhere: Mike Shum
Mike Shum is the co-founder & CEO of Cascade, the debt platform of the future, democratizing access to institutional debt capital for companies by streamlining and simplifying debt processes.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Debt is complicated - Cascade makes it easy! They’re streamlining and simplifying debt processes using technology. The all-in-one platform helps companies around the world prepare for, raise, and manage debt from institutional investors. They assist companies to leverage asset-backed debt facilities, venture debt, on-balance sheet loans, securitizations, and more as an avenue to smart growth.
Mike Shum is the CEO and co-founder of Cascade and has over 15 years of experience in finance and technology. He’s a multiple time founder and has been on the investor side of the table as well. Mike has known his co-founder Kyle Meade for many years and they worked together at a private debt fund. They branched out to create Cascade because they saw a huge gap in the market that no one was addressing.
Why Cascade and why now?
Cascade is my third company. Previously I was the Chief Investment Officer of a private debt fund that focused on early-stage FinTech and non-bank lenders in emerging markets. This experience highlighted the complexities and inefficiencies of debt deals due to the opaque and outdated nature of the market. With the private debt industry now reaching an inflection point and growing significantly, Cascade addresses these challenges by providing tools and infrastructure tailored to this $5-6 trillion market, which is transitioning from traditional venture debt to asset-backed lending solutions. The timing is right as the market has matured and there's a growing demand for streamlined processes, especially in a higher rate environment.
What is Cascade's North Star?
Our North Star is the number of companies we serve on our platform. We work with a range of companies, from pre-seed to Series E, focusing on financing companies, FinTechs, non-bank lenders, and investors. We're playing the long game and aim to grow along with our clients.
How does Cascade inspire “customer love”?
Our customers value the fact that we deeply understand their needs. We offer purpose-built solutions that cater to the specific challenges they face in the private debt market. We speak their language, know their pains, and provide solutions tailored to their problems.
What's on the Cascade horizon?
Our focus is to continue building out our platform. Right now we’re a data analytics and automated reporting company and in the future we want to become more of a smart data company. We aim to provide not only data insights but also predictive analysis to aid our customers in making informed decisions nudged by AI.
Any favorite podcasts?
I’m knee deep in VC and finance stuff so I like listening to a broader range of podcasts to get new ideas, outside perspectives, and stay well-rounded. One of my favorite podcasts is called Conversations with Tyler with economics professor Tyler Cohen, who’s a polymath. That being said, I do listen to Invest Like the Best with Patrick O'Shaughnessy and 20VC.
I've always had an interest in new and emerging markets. While my co-founder Kyle was working in Rwanda, I unexpectedly became investor number 6 on the Rwandan Stock Exchange. That propelled my interest even more and at one point I had a blog on just frontier markets. You know that’s probably how we got into private debt as well.
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