“Life is too short to not take a leap to do something that you love”: A day in the life of Dang Saengchanpheng, director of fintech development at VizyPay
- Dang Saengchanpheng is the director of fintech development and data analytics at VizyPay.
- After leaving the corporate world to help develop a startup, Dang now feels empowered to lead and create, and is excited to come into work everyday.
Dang Saengchanpheng has always been intrigued by software development and entrepreneurship. As a kid, he watched shows like Silicon Valley and observed the growth of companies like Facebook, stirring a curiosity over the startup mentality. And using logic through code to create something, an application or a website, was right up his alley.
After studying business and computer science in college, he got a job at one of the US big banks. He worked there as an analytic consultant for about ten years, helping govern and manage databases, pull reports. It was a safe and comfortable role.
But as time passed by, the tedious corporate world began to weigh in.
“The corporate world is very slow. You have to follow rules that have been developed probably five, six years ago and stick to the same process. They got very boring. 10 years in the corporate world takes its toll,” he said.
So about two years ago, Dang reached out to Austin Mac Nab, the CEO and founder of VizyPay, a payment technology provider for small businesses. He wanted to see if Mac Nab needed someone on the development side of his startup, as he was eager to leave the corporate world if the grass was truly greener on the other side.
They met over some beers at the startup’s office. No questions about qualifications, just a casual conversation – the most intriguing interview Dang’s ever had. He got the job to lead the fintech department at VizyPay, innovate its applications, and design one code base for future efficiency.
This was exactly what he wanted -- an opportunity to lead and create. His experience as a bank analyst helped him see how every part of development touches data – a perfect segue for his future ambitions.
“I wanted to start a new chapter in my life that gives me the freedom, the opportunity to lead, to mentor, to create technology that will benefit a company and expand with it. I didn’t want to work for a company that I know that I'm just a number, where I can't really do anything that I want to do. I must do something that they want me to do. This wasn't a mentality that I wanted even more in my life,” Dang said.
At VizyPay, he gets to think outside the box every day, there’s no template. If anything, he creates his own templates while shaping a direction for his team, figuring out how to create the best outcome using limited resources.
“At a startup, there’s no process in place for you to follow - the path needs to be created and you need to be the person to pave the way.”
But even though it felt right to leave a cushy stable job for a leadership opportunity at a startup, it was still a risky decision.
Coming from an immigrant family, it was difficult to explain this choice to his parents. They had come to the US not knowing any English, having no education, nothing – his father was making just $5 an hour feeding a family of six. After all the difficult times endured in order for their kids to have a better life, they had trouble understanding why their son would leave a safe job.
But it was precisely the chance they took decades back when they were nothing more than refugees in Thailand to move to a foreign country that inspired Dang to take a leap of faith and pursue his dream. Their experience showed the rewards you can get if you work hard for what you want.
“As comfortable as I was with my life at the previous company, it's not even about being safe or the money anymore – it's about what drives you every day to wake up, to be able to create and do whatever it is that you love. What's the legacy that you're going to leave behind? I think life is a little bit too short to not take a leap to do something that you love,” he said.
It turned out to be the right choice in the end. It’s exciting for Dang to come into work knowing that he’s not going to be doing the same thing over and over again. Sometimes he’s the first one at the office and the last one to leave.
“It just doesn’t feel like work to me,” he said. Over the past year, he’s been waking up earlier than he ever had before, at 5:30am, and consistently coming into the office before seven.
Working through lunch, he only takes a break to play ping pong - the whole team’s game has grown quite a bit. This is what they do to relax and have fun, to break the 12 to 13 hours spent at work.
The culture at VizyPay is relaxed and friendly, at the other end of the spectrum compared to the corporate world Dang had experienced before. Team members are encouraged to let their guard down and truthfully express themselves – there won’t be any of the consequences of a formal environment.
“VizyPay has provided a great environment for us to collaborate and get to know each other outside of just working together. It feels more like a family here to me, we're pretty close, and we always have each other's back,” he said.
And the office location is cozy, too. Floor to ceiling windows showcase Iowa’s green fields, with the sunrise perfectly hitting the lounge area, inviting folks to just sit and have a pleasant morning coffee.
At home, Dang loves spending time with his girlfriend of four and a half years, and their two dogs. He spearheads the kitchen, where you’ll usually find him making some of his favorite Thai dishes. He’s got a unique way of making Pho (a traditional Thai noodle soup) - it's all about cleaning and roasting the bones a certain way.