About Us

Meet our World-Class Management Team

Grit is managed by an experienced leadership collective. As senior executives, advisors and entrepreneurs with global prowess, this team understands how to help both customers and businesses move with great intent and impact.

Founder & CEO

Almaz Nanjappa

COO

Shirish Lal

Business Development

Brian Davis

Director

Adam Medrano

Customer Success

Alora Calcagno

Advisor

Dr. Ken Singleton

Saving money just got
easier with Grit.

Get the financial wellness tools you need to
take control of your finances – once and for all.

Founder & CEO

Almaz Nanjappa

Almaz is a serial entrepreneur with deep experience in the launch and scaling of tech platforms. His three successful exits include founding and selling Momentus Consulting to Cognizant, Divertica Inc. to Razor Scooters, and Awerena Inc. to Verizon. He has also built platforms for the likes of Lululemon, Shell, Macy’s, Starbucks and Reddit, in addition to creating the first home equity-backed credit card.

Almaz launched Grit to combat systemic inequity, financial insecurity and the challenge of accumulating emergency savings for employees across the U.S. – challenges he experienced during his college years and early career. His vision for Grit is to help people break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and relying on predatory payday loans, by helping them truly get ahead with financial wellness tools that empower and educate.

How he got financial grit: “As a college student, I earned money tutoring fellow students, but constantly had to do mental budgeting to make sure I kept enough aside for dorm fees every semester.”

Experience

  • Co-founder & CTO, Aven
  • SVP Cognizant Inc
  • CTO Razor Scooters
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Madison

Accomplishments

  • Founded & Sold Momentus Consulting to Cognizant, Divertica Inc to Razor Scooters, Awerena Inc. to Verizon
  • Built Platform for Industry’s first Credit Card backed by Home Equity
  • Built platforms for Lululemon, Shell, Macy’s, Starbucks, Reddit, Clover, Hotel Tonight, Restoration Hardware

Capabilities

  • Serial Entrepreneur with 3 successful exits
  • Deep systems integration expertise
  • Deep Fintech Platform expertise
  • Ability to scale tech teams

Shirish Lal

With more than 15 years’ experience leading business development, production and marketing teams, Shirish has a solid background in growing successful companies. He spent 11 years as Chief Marketing Officer of CenturyLink (now Lumen) and led its growth from $2.6B to $18B in revenue. He spent two years as Chief Operating Officer of Harte Hanks, a marketing services company that worked with over 30 Fortune 500 marketing departments. He also spent three years leading manufacturing and sales at Piping Technology and Products, during which he helped double sales and improve manufacturing efficiency.
As a first generation immigrant, Shirish has seen the power of saving and investing to build a better future. Through his work experiences he recognized a strong need for financial wellness solutions for employees, and the unique opportunity for employers to help them overcome financial insecurity.

How he got his financial grit: “As a first generation immigrant, I have seen the power of being able to save and invest in your skills in order to build a better future.”

Experience

  • EVP Piping Technology & Products
  • COO & CTO, Harte Hanks
  • CMO CenturyLink
  • MIT, Harvard Business School

Accomplishments

  • CMO for CenturyLink during growth from $2.5B to $18B managing all Consumer, Enterprise Product, Pricing, GTM, and Revenue Projections (incl. M&A)
  • Turned around Pipe Support manufacturer serving Energy markets during COVID Pandemic (>1,000 bps margin increase)
  • Set incentive comp for 30K hourly workers at CTL & led 400 employee custom steel mfg & engineering operations

Capabilities

  • Deep experience in both consumer & Enterprise marketing & GTM
  • Successfully operated in both small company & F500 environments

Business Development

Brian Davis

Brian has a lengthy career in municipal government and has worked with over 500 municipalities. He understands deeply about government work and has a passion to support workforce wellness.

Experience

  • Founder at Cityfront.ai
  • Founder BDA Consulting
  • Abilene Christian University

Accomplishments

  • Built Homeserve’s (HMSVF) US Municipal market presence to $1B+
  • Built CodeRED (Saas) to $20M in revenue and successful exit to Riverside Capital
  • Member of 1993 Abilene Christian National Championship Golf Team

Capabilities

  • 20+ Years experience in Municipal Sales & has visited 5,000+ city halls
  • Successfully built revenue streams for startup & new entrant in Municipal market

Advisor

Adam Medrano

With 15 years in public service in Dallas, Texas, Adam is all about improving life for people and communities. He has served on the Dallas City Council and Dallas ISD School Board as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem and as Mayor Pro Tem. He served on various council committees, including as Chair of Quality of Life, Arts and Culture committee and Vice Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He also chaired the city’s LGBT Taskforce, greatly improving the lives of LGBTQ+ city employees and residents. 

As an advisor to Grit, Adam connects with potential customers who can benefit from the ability to build financial stability – especially when faced with emergency expenses. A strong advocate for products and services that do not exploit people and profit off desperation rather than offering support, Adam firmly believes in giving people the tools they need to overcome financial burdens.

Why he’s all for building financial grit: 

“I have had two dear friends pass away because they waited for their next check to pay for essential medication, and it didn’t come in time. If they had had the ability to ‘borrow’ from that future check, things could have been different.”

Customer Success

Alora Calcagno

Alora is the Grit expert you’ll be speaking to if you need help – a real human! Alora has more than a decade of business and card operations experience in the tech industry. She’s happy to help whenever needed.

Experience

  • Operations lead for Aven
  • Operations Analyst, product planning at Samsung
  • Customer Engineering team operations at Samsung
  • 10+ years managing customer happiness

Advisor

Dr. Ken Singleton

Dr. Ken Singleton is a distinguished professor of Management, Emeritus, a Stanford Graduate School of Business, a president of a non-profit, and an author.

Dr. Singleton is our resident expert on financial literacy and is dedicated to providing assistance specifically to low-income households, to help them get ahead. 

Experience

  • Stanford Graduate School of Business,
  • Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus
  • President, 1 Grain to 1,000 Grains (Non-Profit)
  • Reed, U Wisconsin-Madison

Accomplishments

  • Authored numerous books on financial risks & impact to decision making
  • Founded non-profit to provide assistance to low-income communities

Capabilities

  • Serial Entrepreneur with 3 successful exits
  • Deep systems integration expertise
  • Deep Fintech Platform expertise
  • Ability to scale tech teams

Wendy Oliver

A seasoned lawyer and legal compliance expert specializing in the financial sector, Wendy has worked in large law firms and as in-house counsel for companies such as Bank of America and OnPoint Credit Union, and educational institutions such as the University of Chicago and Duke University. She’s also worked at a fintech startup, a consumer lender and a large credit union, as well as running her own practice advising financial institutions.
Well-versed in the ins and outs of disclosures and agreements, contracts and corporate matters, Wendy is most excited about helping others to achieve financial stability, something she had to grapple with herself in her younger years and as a law student. Her goal is to ensure Grit’s financial wellness tools not only help people through financial emergencies, but also establish long-term habits for financial success.
How she got her financial grit: “In college, when I was living off loans and part-time work, I had a budget and that really helped me. After college and law school I had loans to pay. Budgeting and understanding where your money goes can really make a difference in your financial security.”

Experience

  • General Counsel, OnPoint Credit Union
  • Chief Compliance Officer, Aven
  • Asst. General Counsel, Bank of America
  • Duke, U. of Mich, U of Chicago

Accomplishments

  • Led compliance function for the industry’s first Home Equity backed Credit Card
  • First GC at Oregon’s largest credit union preparing institution for crossing $10B threshold

Capabilities

  • 30+ years of experience in Banking Legal and Compliance including Startups, Scale Players, & Regional Players