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Meet Calanthia Mei: The Fast Interview

Calanthia Mei, Head of Partnerships at Fast

Calanthia Mei

Role: Head of Partnerships

Team: Partnerships

Talk about your background leading up to Fast.

I have been a fintech nerd through and through. My fintech journey started on Wall Street, as a “banks’ banker” working with large financial institutions such as Wells Fargo, Visa, MasterCard and First Data. I thought I was going to work on big acquisitions like in the movies, but I ended up learning all the nitty gritty of payments – anti-money laundering, “Know Your Customer” procedures, sanctions screening and correspondent banking – which I now count as a blessing.

From that point onward, I developed a fascination around understanding the innovation in payments. I luckily joined PayPal’s Ventures Capital Team as the second full-time hire, where I invested in 20-plus global fintech startups such as Toss, Tala, and Dosh and sat on several startup boards.

How did you learn about Fast, and why did you say yes?

As a fintech venture capitalist, my job was to spot upstarts. It was difficult not to notice Fast if you were on Twitter at all.

But my connection with Fast actually started with connecting with Allison (Barr Allen, Co-Founder and COO at Fast) on Twitter when she was at Uber. We had been following each other on Twitter. One day, I randomly DM’d Allison to learn more about her angel investing efforts, and Allison used the opportunity to convince me to join Fast.

Fun fact: The first time I met with Domm (Holland, Co-Founder and CEO at Fast) I had just taken out four wisdom teeth. Half of my face was swollen, and I couldn’t smile at Domm at all, and I love to smile. I’m glad Domm didn’t think I was a poker face monster.

Where did you grow up, and what were you like as a child?

I grew up in China in a household led by unapologetically ambitious and strong women. My mom was the breadwinner of the family, which was atypical in Chinese society at the time.

I was competitive and fiercely independent as a child. I remember moving to live on campus in middle school at the age of 12 and moving to the U.S. by myself at the age of 17 to attend college. Like your typical immigrant story, I landed in the U.S. knowing no one in this country. I still operate from a mentality of scarcity.

What was your first job ever?

I was a voice actor in a cartoon!

What career path did you almost take?

Either a diplomat or a war zone foreign correspondent. When I was in college, I was very active in think tanks, NGOs, political campaigns, and investigative journalism. I am still passionate about international affairs – my partner and I talk and fight about politics at home all the time.

What app on your phone do you use the most?

Slack. It is really hard to take me away from my work.

What food do you uncontrollably eat?

Anything spicy! My palette and my stomach have a love-hate relationship.

What was the last show you binged? What’s the verdict? Do you recommend it?

“Money Heist.” Season 1 is 9.5/10 for me. It was a meticulously planned heist, with hints of classic Spanish romance.

What personal goal would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I wouldn’t bore you with my quarterly and annual goals – yes, I have those. Above all, I want to stay energetic, stay curious, and stay caring.

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