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Daniela Binatt

Our Positive Woman is Daniela Binatti, co-founder and CTO of Pismo, a technology company for the financial sector. Daniela shares how she began her career in this still predominantly male sector and asserts that her passion for technology helped her overcome the obstacles of a humble background to found a company that is now present on five continents and has more than 450 employees. “My parents worked in the fields and studied only until they were nine years old. No one in the family had technological or business knowledge. Their dream was for my sister and me to get a good job in a bank,” she reveals. “That’s why, at 13, I took a typing course. At the same school, there was a computer course that caught my attention. The world full of possibilities in computing seemed fascinating to me.”

1. How did your career start? I came from a very simple family. My parents worked in the fields and studied only until they were nine years old. No one in the family had technological or business knowledge. Their dream was for my sister and me to get a good job in a bank. After all, it was the most stable employer with growth potential. So, at 13, I took a typing course. At the same school, there was a computer course that caught my attention. The world full of possibilities in computing seemed fascinating to me. At 14, I started studying and later entered the computer science college. I attended college at night, running after work to get there. Over time, I saw several female colleagues drop out for various reasons — from the insecurity of returning home late after class to the difficulty in finding a job in the very male-dominated technology sector (it still is). Since it was my passion, I was never intimidated. I finished college and built a career at one of the first card processing companies in Brazil, where I worked for 16 years. There, I held various leadership positions — the last as infrastructure director.

But it was never easy. Besides facing the challenge of building an infrastructure to support a demanding and rapidly changing sector, I managed a data center that needed to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and required constant attention. I was married and the mother of two young girls. I led a team of 100 people — 98 men and two women — and had to balance giving attention to my daughters without losing focus at work. The stress reached such a high level that I chose to leave. I started studying topics like cloud computing and big data, thinking about working as a consultant. I went to the United States to update my skills. On this trip, I realized that the technological gap in the financial world, compared to other industries, was huge. The technology available at that time would allow us to build a much better platform than what we had previously created. We wouldn’t need a data center since all the necessary technological resources were available in the cloud. Thus, the idea of creating Pismo was born.

My three partners and I spent almost a year listing the problems we couldn’t solve with the previous platform and how we would do things differently this time. The changes were many, not only in technology but also in the business model and how we related to our clients and teams. The result was the development of a cloud-native platform composed of microservices that allow the creation of financial products, both in payments and core banking. We provide our clients with a toolkit of resources so they can create innovative financial products and have control over their product roadmap without being tied to our backlog. With our technology, we serve banks, fintechs, and other companies in the financial market. Large banks like Itaú and BTG Pactual use our platform. These companies develop their own financial products with our APIs. Today, the Pismo platform also includes features for financial asset management, marketplace vendor administration, credit operations, and digital wallets.

2. How is Pismo's business model structured? It is a software as a service (SaaS) company. We offer a modular platform for banking and payment services based in the cloud. This platform is formed by a set of microservices that communicate with clients' applications through APIs (application programming interfaces). We are present today on five continents, serving banks, fintechs, and non-financial companies. We have more than 450 employees. This model is known as "headless" because we handle the backend processing while the client manages the applications and websites that interact with the consumer. This allows banks and fintechs to have full control over the customer experience and differentiate themselves from competitors by offering unique features in the applications.

This architecture has other advantages compared to more traditional ones. It offers instant scalability when there is a sudden increase in transaction volume — as happens on Black Friday, for example. It is very reliable and secure, and it allows the development of a new financial product in a few weeks (instead of months). We can offer our services in any country where AWS, which provides our infrastructure, is present. Additionally, there is no resource idleness, and the client only pays for what they use, making this model attractive for financial institutions. I like to compare our platform to a toolbox that enables building a variety of customized financial products. With Pismo, it is possible to set up a card operation for a retailer, for example, in a few weeks.

3. What was the most challenging moment of your career? Certainly the transition from an executive career to an entrepreneurial one. Despite believing that I had the necessary experience to build an innovative and successful company, I was not educated to be an entrepreneur. I was educated to get a good job. There were many doubts, and I often say that entrepreneurship is like riding a roller coaster every day. We go from heaven to hell in hours. With each new challenge, I wondered if it was time to give up and return to the job market. Today, I am grateful for persisting. Building Pismo taught me a lot.

4. How do you balance your personal life with your corporate/entrepreneurial life? I don't believe in separating personal and professional life. It is not possible to fully commit to work while your daughters are at home with a fever, nor to play with the children when there is a crisis at work. My daughters are 15 and 13 years old, respectively. Throughout their lives, there have been times of intense work. Initially, they complained. But today, they understand why I dedicated myself so much. And more than that, they were able to witness firsthand how difficult entrepreneurship is, as everyone overvalues success stories and rarely talks about the difficulties. Sometimes we have to make tough choices, giving up short-term comforts to build something more solid in the long term. Since separation is not simple, I try to dedicate time to them whenever possible.

5. What is your biggest dream? I am very proud of the company we are building — not just for the platform and product we offer to the market, but mainly for the focus on our team and the inclusive and welcoming environment. I believe in a world where people can be themselves and openly talk about their difficulties. My dream is to leave this legacy, showing that it is possible to build something innovative and profitable while still making people's lives better.

6. What is your greatest achievement? My family. I am very proud of my daughters, and despite making many mistakes, I think I am doing a good job in raising strong, confident, and self-sufficient women.

7. Book, movie, and woman you admire:

Book: “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton M. Christensen.

Movie: “Hidden Figures.”

Woman: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.



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