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From a Payments CEO: 5 Discriminatory Behaviors That Need To Go

Payments Dive

“Until the industry addresses this blatant lack of advocacy for women in leadership, it will continue to foster a culture where women can’t thrive,” says Stax CEO Suneera Madhani.

Suneera Madhani is the co-founder and CEO of the Orlando-based payments processing company Stax.

My fintech company, Stax, achieved unicorn status in 2022, after nearly a decade of growing and championing our payments platform. We went through six rounds of fundraising, at times requiring a line of credit to keep the business running.

In one of those moments, a particular investor voted against giving us a company-saving investment of $500,000 in the face of a $12 million buy-out offer. But we continued to grow — and ultimately exited our early-stage investors at 18x their investment. Not long after, upon learning of Stax’s $1 billion valuation, he sent me an email: “Suneera, I wanted to let you know I’m proud of you.” 

The audacity floored me. When someone says, “I’m proud of you,” that person usually occupies a higher status position, like a mentor, or is someone who knows you well. But this man was neither — he was simply trying to assert authority over me. He neither earned nor contributed to our company’s achievement. In fact, he specifically voted against our growth — to the point where my co-founders and I mortgaged our homes and deferred our salaries to keep the company afloat. Yet now he felt compelled and entitled to give me his patriarchal validation, as if he shared ownership of my success. As a prominent venture capitalist who had only “believed” in me when it was convenient, he thought I would be happy to receive his praise.