I’m Rob Curtis, Co-Founder of Daylight. I’m a proud Aussie who’s been living in London for 14 years and in the middle of relocating to Los Angeles. Though as I write this I’m currently in Mexico with my fiancee where we can enjoy some sunshine and delicious food while being close enough to pop across to LA and meet our team as we need.
In London, I was lucky enough to work on lots of wonderful projects in finance, banking, and the third sector. More recently I’ve been closer to my passion as a serial LGBT+ entrepreneur. I was previously Managing Director of Gaydar, a dating site for 1.5m LGBT+ people which taught me a lot about the internal lives of the community. I then built a couple of start-ups – the latest one, Helsa is a mental health platform that connects LGBT+ people to specialist mental health support.
What steps led you to Daylight?
Daylight is the culmination of my work as an LGBT+ entrepreneur, an activist, a professional in finance, and as a consumer frustrated with banking in general.
It’s been a long journey as a gay man learning how to thrive (not just survive) as an adult in a world that’s not often designed with us in mind. So I’ve tended to be most interested in “grown up” things that I had to figure out myself like investing in mental health, having a life plan, and managing my money. I do a lot of public speaking about LGBT+ mental health and entrepreneurship at businesses like Google (for OutinTech) and in professional settings as a Board member of Series Q, the network of LGBT+ entrepreneurs in the UK.
I met Matej, my co-founder at a Series Q event when I was on a panel about motivating people in a start-up environment. Fast forward two years until February 2020 when he gives me a call saying “hey I’ve got an idea you might be interested in” and the rest is history!
When was the first time you thought about money?
Money was something that I thought about young because my parents gave us $15 AUD (around $10 USD) every two weeks to do chores around the house. It wasn’t much but if I wanted to buy something big, I knew I had to put money away.
But I really understood how impactful money was when I was around 13 and my family struggled to make ends meet in the early 90s recession. My parents were very stressed and I ended up delivering newspapers to houses in our neighborhood so our family would have a bit of extra cash to spend on treats like a dinner out.
I think this experience makes me the kind of person who gets anxious thinking about money so I’ve had to develop positive financial habits and not just ignore those unopened, unpaid bills sitting on my desk.
What was your “aha” moment with money?
My aha moment came a few years ago when I was offered an appointment with an LGBT+ financial advisor. They helped me go from feeling anxious and ashamed talking about money to being comfortable opening up and trusting someone to help me figure out my financial goals and how to get there. I realized that as a gay man, I needed to organize my money differently to my brothers and how important it is to have someone who understand your lifestyle to help plan and get things in order.
What do you do outside of work?
I spent time with my fiancee, Cesar – he is wonderful and very supportive of my crazy entrepreneur life. I’ve always been a geek, so you’ll probably find me reading about the latest Sci-Fi show or video game on Reddit. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful group of friends from all over the world, so finding ways to spend time with them always makes me happy. Oh and podcasts. I LOVE podcasts – you’ll hear me listening to Pod Save America, Keep It, Lovett or Leave It, Reply All, 99% Invisible, and Winds of Change which was probably my favorite podcast of the last few years (alongside a long list of fintech and business podcasts).
Favorite LGBT+ business?
There are so many wonderful queer entrepreneurs and business leaders out there that it’d be hard to pick just one. On my shortlist, though, would be
- Media: them.us – a media company that really gets that many modern queer lifestyles are intersectional and non-binary and there is a rich vein of important stories that aren’t being told.
- Coffee: I popped into Bloom and Plume in LA for a take-out coffee recently. I love the community spirit there.
- Lifestyle: I’m always impressed by the work that Robyn Exton and the team at HER do. Queer dating platforms have always been dominated by men so it’s great to see how Robyn’s vision has been brought to life and how they’ve created a wonderful community of womxn, trans and non-binary people.