Trina Ray Choudhury is the co-founder of Zibra, an AI-driven digital card & app that helps users be smarter with their spending.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My role is co-founder at Zibra, an AI-driven digital wallet that helps consumers see, save and spend without changing their behaviour. The world of finance can be complicated and cluttered. At Zibra, we believe you should be rewarded, automatically and effortlessly, every time you spend.
I have a career background in strategy and design thinking, so my primary focus at Zibra will be connecting people with our product and being in charge of customer, marketing, and strategy.
My co-founder, Elliot, has a software development background in fintech, so he will be working on technology, operations and infrastructure. Elliot and I met in the Antler program and came to the idea by combining our passions; mine in deal and rewards hacking, and Elliot’s in digital payment methods.
Having worked in both corporate and startups, I have always known my purpose is to run my own business and make an impact. I have been so fortunate to be doing just that with an awesome business partner – sure, there is a lot of stress and responsibility involved, but there is something so fun about the fast-moving nature and uncertainty of it all!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
No two days are the same – and these days it has been mostly back-to-back investor meetings!
But the way I like to structure my days is keeping organisational/admin/email-related tasks in the morning, and the harder projects for the afternoon. I use the Pomodoro technique to break up my tasks throughout the morning, which are short bursts of productivity with quick breaks. I am not a morning person (night owl!) so I like to take things easy and structured (including appreciating my 9am slow sips of coffee).
I have found my most productive hours are actually 4pm onwards, so late afternoons and evenings are when I do my concentrated work when the creative juices are flowing and the meetings are mostly done.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. 80% of Zibra has been built remotely as we were in lockdown for the majority of it. Secondly, Elliot and I live in different cities (Sydney/Hobart). We have quick catch-ups in the morning and afternoon to check-in, and Elliot travels up to Sydney every couple of weeks so we schedule workshops etc in for those dates.
Flexible and remote working is an important part of our working relationship and productivity, and we will definitely have that option for employees. We both recognise that people have different situations and needs, so if anything, we encourage finding what and where works for you.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance to me is achieving harmony between the time I spend working and the time I spend doing leisure activities. As a founder of a startup, it can be really difficult to find that balance (I often have dreams about the business) and I find myself making sacrifices on the latter. I definitely don’t sleep as much, nor is my social life as active!
However, I strongly believe keeping healthy and happy ultimately makes you more productive, which leads to greater professional success. For me, planning is key to try and achieve this.
At the very least I make time to cook & eat well (healthy body, healthy mind), do yoga, spend time with my partner & family, and most importantly being aware of how/what I am feeling (and taking a break when I need it!).
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have definitely been guilty of scrolling on my phone right when I wake up, which I have now stopped.
Every few weeks I have a phone/laptop-free day and make sure I get plenty of fresh air, a good book/podcast, and a movie. I always feel very energised and creative the following day.
I’ve also begun to write down (pen & paper) my list of tasks every morning, create subtasks, prioritise them, then tick them off as I go. Whilst we do use online workflow tools, this old-school method helps me feel more grounded.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
To be honest my favourite books are fiction and podcasts are news & pop-culture related. When I do make time to read, I like to “escape” for a couple of hours, and I love doing just that in cultural fiction books, especially Asian fiction. Otherwise, some business-related recommendations are:
Books: Project Hail Mary & Hooked.
Podcast: Reply All & Heavyweight.
Newsletter: Benedict Evans & Bits about Money by Patrick McKenzie
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Gadgets: wireless earphones (best invention ever), my Fitbit, and my iPad. Apps: Fitbit (again), Bitwarden, Podcasts.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s impossible to have a one size fits all approach to work-life balance. I think what is most important is to have intuition and self-awareness into what is working for you. Surround yourself with the right people, I am so lucky to have a partner and close friends who inspire me and empower me every day. Lastly, I 100% believe in finding your passion, as they say – “Love your work, and you’ll never work another day!”
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