Career Path - Matt Marra, VP of Growth at Knox Financial
What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for the VP of Growth at Knox Financial?
We connected with Matt Marra to find out!
Interested in learning more about Knox Financial? Make sure to check out their company page!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in Hampton, New Hampshire. My dad started his career at General Electric as a Sales Engineer and then started his own business called Measurement & Control Solutions. He’s been selling for the business for 30+ years and my mom has helped run the bookkeeping. I grew up in a small business / entrepreneurial team environment.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I studied Interdisciplinary Engineering & Management with a minor in Supply Chain Management at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. I also studied Management Information Systems during a semester abroad at Newcastle University in Australia.
My first job out of school was a leadership development program at IBM for their Global Business Services consulting division. After about 2-3 years in various verticals, including marketing, financial services, and industrial systems integration, I thought it was time to take a swing in the startup world. I applied for a position to lead Boston Operations with Uber in 2011.
You were one of Uber’s early employees. Can you share what led you to join Uber, and what you did at the company?
I was coming out of a leadership development program at IBM and was looking for a startup where I could have more impact. One of my friends Max Crowley sent me a Jason Calacanis podcast of Travis Kalanick talking about how Uber’s tech was going to change transportation. His passion and track record was enough for me to apply for an operations role and build out that side of the business.
What did you do after leaving Uber?
I took a long break. I traveled with my wife, invested, advised a number of startups. We also had our first child—a baby boy named Mason.
After investing in Knox Financial, you decided to join the company as VP of Growth. What led you to join Knox?
There were a lot of similarities between Knox and Uber that made it an attractive opportunity.
I often reference how Uber scaled coming out of a recession with limo drivers looking for supplemental income. Property investing can be a strong investment for homeowners to compliment their stock and bond portfolio, especially when it comes to cyclical downside protection. There are also a lot of marketplace aspects to this business in a new industry that was attractive to me. Much like Uber got involved in related marketplaces such as vehicle discounts, auto lending, and car rentals, there's a lot of opportunity for Knox to build a strong data set and expand into marketplaces like mortgages, property insurance and maintenance.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as VP of Growth at Knox Financial?
Two primary drivers of growth for our business is geographic expansion and compounding referral engines. We recently expanded from operating only in Boston to across Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. We have a couple of industry expert referral programs coming later this summer. And of course, anyone can refer a friend, parent, or landlord and receive $500 when they join the Knox platform.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?
For folks looking to break into a career in tech, I would say offer your time to help a founder or entrepreneur. Opening up doors to new customers, investor introductions, or even beta testing goes a long way. Especially in Boston with such a tight knit community. That effort is not forgotten and your name will be top of mind when a new position becomes available.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Coffee (2-3 cups)
What time do you get into the office?
Well with COVID19, my house is my office so I’m always here. :)
What motivates you in your role?
Advising homeowners from various financial situations how to optimize their wealth generation using the real estate equity they have already built up or looking to expand.
I’m really looking forward to rolling out this product nationally to learn more use cases of our platform outside of New England.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
Coffee, team stand up, biz dev creation and follow up, special growth programs, operations onboarding progression, and lunch with my wife Briah and our 1-year old son somewhere in between.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
After family dinner and our son’s bath time, I tend to check in on emails after I put him to bed.
Any productivity hacks?
Sleep is underrated. Some of my best ideas and ah-ha moments come when I’m winding down for bed.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Nanit (techy baby monitor), Uber (duh), and GCal (work + life coordination).
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
The career development of my new hires at Uber was always super important to me. Looking at where those folks are now it is pretty incredible. Some have stayed at Uber and lead new divisions (Uber Freight, EATS) while others have gone on to lead at other companies (MainVest, Getaround, CloudTrucks, Blueground, and Facebook, for example).
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
Has to be my Dad. He’s been a successful business owner for 30+ years with my Mom running the books. Each major career decision at IBM, Uber, and now Knox I like to get his unfiltered and thoughtful take.