HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 186
Houston entrepreneur furthers mission of democratizing finance with latest venture
After seeing through an exit of his first startup NextSeed, lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Youngro Lee took on a leadership role at the acquiring company, Republic. But his fintech innovation wheels kept turning.
"Brassica is, I personally consider, an extension and a national evolution of my original starting point," Lee says on the Houston Innovators Podcast, "which is basically to democratize finance so that everyone can have access to alternative assets as part of their wealth management investments or even for pleasure to just be able to invest in things they believe in."
Brassica Technologies Inc. is a fintech infrastructure company that's providing a platform for alternative assets, Lee explains. While investments in the public markets have platforms already, there are other investment opportunities that are managed in a less optimized way for investors.
Lee says there hasn't been a seamless solution created for the backend of these transactions, things like custody of those assets or transferring and keeping track of them.
"The reason why I thought this was what I wanted to focus on next was exactly because it was an issue I struggled with as a founder of NextSeed," Lee says on the show. "The backend was always an issue. There's not one single vendor that we felt really understood our business, was doing it efficiently, or enabled us to deliver those services to our end clients."
Lee says he has been working on addressing this gap in the market for the past two years under his role at Republic. After holding an executive position at the company as a whole, he currently oversees the Asian market as general partner of Republic Asia.
"We didn't know where this process was going to go. It was a corporate initiative to try to understand what the market needs — because we needed it," Lee says. "We quickly realized that this idea can be really big. Once we had that conclusion, that the problem we're trying to solve and the opportunity that the market presents is significant enough, we knew Brassica deserves to be its own company."
Shortly after that, Lee started reaching out to potential investors and raised an $8 million seed round to take the company out of stealth last month. Houston-based Mercury Fund led the round, with participation from Valor Equity Partners, Long Journey Ventures, NGC Fund, Neowiz, Broadhaven Ventures, Armyn Capital, VC3DAO, Alpha Asset Management (Korea), and other global FinTech investors participated in the round.
Lee shares more about the future of Brassica, including the challenges he's facing within regulation and the state of fintech as a whole, on the podcast. He also weighs in on how he's seen the Houston innovation ecosystem grow and develop alongside his own entrepreneurial journey. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.