Student Loan Genius Relaunches as Vault

Fall has brought not only a change of season for student loan repayment benefits platform Student Loan Genius, it also marks a name change, as the company has rebranded as Vault this week.

“Vault was born out of the desire and ability to be more than a third-party financial technology service for organizations,” said Matt Beecher, CEO of Vault. “We solve a very real and increasingly suffocating financial problem that affects a large number of employees: student loan debt. And, we are willing to get down into the trenches to create results that give our clients an advantage in the marketplace. We’ve changed our name to reflect that we’ve honed our focus, more than ever, on empowering financial freedom.”

The rebrand also helps to differentiate Vault from a student loan refinancing platform with a name similar to its former one, Student Loan Hero.

The news comes as Vault closes a deal with American Family Insurance. The firm agreed to provide its employees with two of Vault’s offerings, Vault Pay, which facilitates employer student loan contributions; and Vault Advisor, an online tool that suggests customized payoff plans based on employees’ actual loans.

Vault was founded in 2013 and demonstrated at FinovateSpring 2016, where it showcased a 401(k) product that allows employers to allocate unused 401(k) dollars to student loan benefits. The offering launched this week under the name Vault Match. Headquartered in Texas, Vault has raised a total of $7.7 million.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Daon Inks Deal with South Africa’s Capitec Bank.
  • Lighter Capital Launches Capital Client Perks Program.

Around the web

  • Ping Identity integrates its multi-factor authentication solution, PingID, with Microsoft Azure Active Directory.
  • MoneyTap, DLT-based payment app developed by SBI and Ripple goes live in Japan.
  • OutSystems appoints Tim MacCarrick as new Chief Financial Officer.
  • Baltic International Bank finishes upgrade of its private, corporate, and retail banking offerings courtesy of a partnership with Temenos.
  • Sberbank customers can now add “cash postcards” – automated images with sound – to their money transfers.
  • CNBC features Plaid: the startup you’ve never heard of.
  • Arxan begins a month-long initiative to raise awareness for improved application security and threat intelligence.
  • RightCapital launches white-labeled, native mobile app.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

How Fintech is Disrupting the Modern Workplace

From the way payroll and benefits are administered to the nature of work itself, fintech innovation is helping build the 21st century workplace.

Will “pay day” be a thing of the past? How long until companies across the country are competing on the basis of their ability to help you pay off your student loans?

Technology has done much to change the nature of work in recent years. The same can be said for specific areas like financial technology. Here’s a look at how fintech innovations are making their own contributions to the 21st century “office”.

Getting Paid

Many of us work because we enjoy what we do. But whether you consider getting paid a top priority or just a perk, who wouldn’t love the flexibility of being able to get income when you need the money most – rather than on an arbitrary, twice a month schedule?

Companies like Gusto are among those making this possibility a reality. This summer, the payroll, benefits, and HR technology company introduced Flexible Pay, a new solution that enables employees to get paid on a date other than their employer’s standard pay date. Calling bi-weekly pay schedules a “relic” of the days when payroll taxes were calculated manually, Gusto co-founder and CEO Joshua Reeves has set out to prove that “with modern technology, employees shouldn’t have to wait weeks to get paid.”

The New Workspace

Even the word “telecommute” sounds more like something from a bygone time rather than the way a growing number of Americans are “going to work”. But the reality of remote employment for a growing number of people is here and fintech companies have both encouraged and participated in this trend. “Millennials simply don’t feel they need to be in the office, or at their desk, to get a job done — especially since the evolution of technology has made portability very possible,” Demetrios Gianniris, a director at MG Engineering, wrote for Forbes.com earlier this year in a post called The Millennial Arrival and the Evolution of the Modern Workplace.

To this end, innovations in mobile technology and messaging (consider Eltropy’s innovations in providing secure, compliant communications via popular messaging apps) have helped accelerate the revolution in remote work. There are also fintechs removing friction from some of the more mundane aspects of working outside the office. Expensify, for example, has partnered with Uber to make it easier for workers who use the ride-sharing service to separate business from personal expenses. And speaking of expenses, the tools offered by companies like Ondot empower workers to make necessary purchases while ensuring control and accountability for managers and employers.

Doing the Work

The flip side of the convenience that technologies like chatbots and IVR provide is that, for a growing number of financial professionals, these technologies are virtually co-workers. As machine learning and AI become increasingly commonplace, workers are more likely to rely on interacting with processes than communicating with people when it comes to getting their daily tasks done.

For financial advisors, fintechs are developing a wide variety of tools to make it easier for them to communicate with customers, and build highly personalized investment portfolios and financial plans. Onist, which announced a partnership with Quovo this summer, enables financial advisors to set up a virtual family office to facilitate collaboration between advisors and clients.

Technology also promises to make it easier for workers to leverage the work of other workers more effectively. One of the key insights of New York-based WorkFusion was the way a combination of machine learning and crowdsourcing of human talent could enable smaller businesses to “punch above their weight” when it comes to managing data. The company has since leveraged this technology to produce the first integrated RPA (robot process automation) and cognitive automation platform: Smart Process Automation (SPA) currently deployed in verticals including financial services, healthcare, and insurance.

Managing the Gains

Fintechs are in the lead when it comes to helping workers make better financial decisions. A firm like DoubleNet Pay helps employees manage cash flow by automating their billpay and savings obligations and coordinating payouts around paydays. Wealthucate, a financial wellness specialist out of San Jose, California, provides an automated financial wellness program that helps businesses enhance their own offerings. Wealthucate’s solution leverages gamification and personalization to increase the participation rate in benefit programs and help companies better explain their benefit offerings.

Among the more interesting ways that fintechs are helping workers manage their money is the approach by Student Loan Genius. This company enlists employers in the fight to help Millennial workers in particular pay off their student loans while simultaneously investing in their own employer-based retirement plan as soon as possible.

Fintech and the Work of the Future

It may be only a matter of time before we are able to watch the real-time flow of micropayments into our accounts or a be a part of a workforce in which most of us have both a robot supervisor and a robot subordinate. In any event, it is clear that whatever innovations the workplace of the future holds, fintech companies will be very much a part of making them happen.

Top image designed by Freepik

Update: Student Loan Genius Raises New Funding in Round Led by Vestigo Ventures

Update: 5/17: Student Loan Genius announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. The round was led by Vestigo Ventures and featured participation from CMFG Ventures, Prudential Financial, and Rubicon Venture Capital.

“This new funding validates Student Loan Genius’ mission and efforts to enable companies to retain their top talent in an increasingly competitive workforce through unique benefits, like student loan payments, that meet their employee’s needs,” Student Loan Genius CEO Matt Beecher said. The company plans to use the investment to support commercialization of their offering and add technology, sales, and marketing talent to their team.

*

Xconomy is reporting that Austin, Texas-based Student Loan Genius has raised $4.7 million in funding. The news was seconded by Austin Business Journal, which added that 11 investors have participated in the round. Both reports – as well as a third from AmericanInno, are based at least in part on a SEC Form D filing, which suggests that the $4.7 million was part of a larger $5.8 million fundraising initiative. As reported, the new capital more than doubles Student Loan Genius’ total equity funding to more than $7 million.

Student Loan Genius helps young workers retire their student debts faster through a combination of education, debt, analysis, and the assistance of employers. The company helps students search for and identify student loan repayment programs that work best for them (i.e., programs that offer better terms based on higher credit scores, programs that offer discounts for military veterans). Student Loan Genius also enables student loan borrowers to see the difference among repayment options.

The company’s signature feature, demonstrated at FinovateSpring 2016, is Genius Save, which enables employers to attach a student loan benefit to their 401(k) contribution. The goal is to relieve the strain of student loan repayments on the budgets of young workers who are just beginning to save for retirement.

“Like the 401(k), a student loan benefit invests back into employees,” Student Loan Genius’ Content Manager Bobby Hilliard wrote on the company’s blog last month. “While benefits like pet insurance or chef-catered lunches are appealing, a student loan repayment benefit impacts lives immediately. Plus, it’s a great tool for retention.” Hilliard noted that employers offering a student loan contribution to their workers of “even $50 a month” can make a significant impact on their employees’ ability to retire their student debt quicker and begin saving for a home and investing for retirement that much sooner.

Founded in 2013, the company partnered with New York Life last fall, helping the firm launch its student loan repayment program. Last summer, Student Loan Genius joined the inaugural U.S. cohort of BBVA’s program for social entrepreneurs. Prudential Financial, John Hancock, Socratic Ventures, Village Capital, Kapor Capital, and Capital Factory are among the company’s investors.  Twenty-five year fintech and venture capital veteran Matt Beecher was appointed CEO of the company in August 2017.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Trusted Key Raises $3 Million for Passwordless Authentication.
  • Student Loan Genius Picks Up $4.7 Million in New Funding.

Around the web

  • Argentine prepaid services provider Nubi partners with Mambu.
  • Mitek to provide KYC for cryptocurrency broker BTCDirect.
  • Flywire and Billtrust collaborate to improve cross border accounts receivable for Billtrust customers.
  • BioCatch offers its behavioral biometrics solution as an integrated module to the ForgeRock platform.
  • Personal Capital partners with benefits firm Alight Solutions and asset manager AllianceBernstein.
  • OurCrowd is set to hit $1 billion in crowdfunded assets in 2018.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Truphone Raises $339 Million to Fuel Global Expansion.
  • Best of Show Winner Voleo and Nasdaq to Launch Equity Trading Competition.

Around the web

  • New York Life launches student loan repayment program; partners with Student Loan Genius.
  • NCR unveils new mPOS solution, Ring Up, designed for U.S. micro businesses.
  • Invstr to offer fractional share trading via partnership with DriveWealth.
  • MarketEarlybird announces availability on cloud-based workflow and collaboration platform, Symphony.
  • Quadient (formerly GMC Software) expands Partner Advantage Program.
  • Top Image Systems eFLOW Remit tops 50 billion transactions.
  • Ondot Systems brings its card control technology to Access Softek mobile banking platform.
  • Pendo launches Pendo Machine Learning Platform (PMLP).
  • ICBA adds CECL Solution from ProfitStars to Preferred Service Provider Program
  • Finastra adds three new CU clients
  • Kony to power next-gen digital platform for NRT and Sightline.
  • Pendo Systems selected by SWIFT as One of 16 Fintechs to Exhibit at SIBOS 2017.
  • 35 Finovate alums named in IDC Financial Insights’ top 100 fintech rankings

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Student Loan Genius Joins Inaugural U.S. Class of BBVA Program for Social Entrepreneurs

Student Loan Genius will join 19 other startups in the inaugural U.S. class of BBVA’s training program for social entrepreneurs, BBVA Momentum. The program, in existence since 2011, has helped more than 100 companies with “high social impact” in Spain, Mexico, and Peru. This year, BBVA Momentum has opened the doors to its seven-month training program to U.S. companies “who want to change the world through their work.”

“We saw a lot of passion and innovative approaches to some of our most stubborn issues,” BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and one of the program judges, Reymundo Ocañas said.  “We scrutinized the organizations to determine which ones had the most sustainable business models and the highest social impact.” Through the program, BBVA Compass seeks to help startups “scale up so they can change even more lives,” Ocañas explained.

Pictured: Co-founders Tony Aguilar (CEO) and Emiliano Villareal (Chuck Norris of Product) demonstrating Student Loan Genius at FinovateSpring 2016.

Student Loan Genius leverages employer’s existing participation in their employees’ 401(k) plans to provide a unique student loan repayment benefit. Because paying off student loans tends to delay a young worker’s ability to begin saving for the future, Student Loan Genius enables employees to focus on repaying their student loan debt while employers make pre-tax contributions to their employee’s retirement account based on the amount of debt repayment. “We tell the story all the time: young people need to start investing as early as possible, but we can’t afford to do it because of our student loan debt,” Student Loan Genius CEO and co-founder Tony Aguilar explained during his company’s demo at FinovateSpring last year. “With (our platform) we can now make this a reality,” he said.

As part of the BBVA Momentum program, entrepreneurs will get seven-months of training, both online and in-person. In-person training will take place at UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. The Corporate Learning Alliance, a joint project between the Financial Times and Spain’s IE Business School, will manage the online portion of the training. The program will also feature networking opportunities with previous BBVA Momentum companies and investors. A select number of entrepreneurs – based on the sustainability and social impact of their solutions – will be eligible for what BBVA called “further investment opportunities.”

Also participating in the program are:

  • A Caring Safe Place Inc.
  • Cafe Momentum
  • Capital Plus Financial
  • Chicks with Class
  • Community Loan Center of Texas
  • E4 Youth
  • Education Opens Doors
  • Ensosoft
  • Give More HUGS
  • Go Rings
  • GroupRaise.com
  • IDEA Public Schools
  • JUST
  • LOHAS Capital
  • LynxGRC
  • Magpies & Peacocks
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul
  • The Giving Field
  • Upswing

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Student Loan Genius demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016. Last fall, the company announced that HVAC manufacturer Mestek would offer its employees the Student Loan Genius benefit through a partnership with Prudential. Student Loan Genius powers loan benefit programs for workers at Pinterest, Spredfast, and fellow Finovate alum, Twilio, among others. The company has raised $3 million in funding, courtesy of a seed round in early 2016 led by Gibraltar Ventures and featuring participation from Capital Factory, Fenway Summer Ventures, Kapor Capital, VilCap Investments, and Village Capital. Read our profile of the company from last summer.

 

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Blockchain Lands $40 Million Series B.
  • With AI and Automation, Personetics Act Turns Banking Apps into Financial Wellness Apps.
  • Student Loan Genius Joins Inaugural U.S. Class of BBVA Program for Social Entrepreneurs.

Around the web

  • Greater Wyoming FCU ($23 million in assets) transitions to integrated banking solutions from Fiserv.
  • Mitek adds Jeff Davison as new Chief Financial Officer.
  • Trustly readies first The State of Online Banking report for release next week.
  • ZipZap chosen to participate in U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Regulatory Sandbox.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

 

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • “The Best of FinovateAsia 2016 in Photos
  • “Sezzle Raises Seed Funding Ahead of Shopify Debut”

Around the web

  • PayNearMe to power cash payments at Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
  • IBM to launch 4 new data centers in the U.K.
  • NYMBUS partners with QTS Realty Trust to enable financial institutions to move legacy core systems to NYMBUS’s private cloud.
  • Compass Plus enabled processing center Quipu to reach 100% service availability in 2015.
  • PYMNTS.com takes a look at the challenges facing Prosper and its incoming CEO David Kimball.
  • Trustly hires new Head of People Operations, Ulrica Falkenberg.
  • HVAC manufacturer Mestek to offer Student Loan Genius benefit via Prudential.
  • Lighter Capital ranked #4 in Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of fastest-growing private companies in Washington state.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • P2Binvestor Scoops Up More Than $7 Million in New Funding.
  • Ahead of Anticipated IPO, ayondo Acquires TradeHero.

Around the web

  • IBM introduces blockchain-based KYC project with Singapore’s KYCK!
  • Cardlytics adds Peter Gleason as president of international operations.
  • Jordan Ahli Bank goes live with T24 core banking system from Temenos.
  • Let’s Talk Payments features Ripple and Plaid in roundup of “startups to support your startup.”
  • Ben Brandt of Retirement Starts Today Radio interviews ProActive Budget.
  • ProfitStars announces RemitPlus Express, a remittance solution.
  • InComm collaborates with CVV+ to reduce payment card fraud.
  • Student Loan Genius powers student-loan benefits for employees of Pinterest, Twilio and Spredfast.
  • Prosper names Chief Executive Officer David Kimball.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Fintech Trending: Look Who’s Chasing Venmo, Student Loan Servicing Falls Short

VenmoImage

A look at the trending topics of the past two weeks, co-authored by Finovate’s research analysts David Penn and Julie Schicktanz.

Payments

Venmo competition heats up
We’ve lately noticed more P2P payment app competitors trickle in. They have Braintree-owned Venmo’s (FD2016; F2013) millennial-focused social components stamped all over them:

  1. Founded by former N26 employees, Cookies launched this week to offer Germany-based users a free P2P payment solution. The simple UI has a messaging platform for senders and recipients to engage with, and it allows people to include emojis with their payments (Cookies calls them paymojis). Some paymojis have special powers, for example, a lightning bolt that allows users to send the money faster. Unlike Venmo (more like Square Cash), users do not maintain a balance on Cookies; instead, Cookies connects directly to a user’s bank account.
  2. Tilt originally began as a crowdfunding platform but launched P2P payments functionality this week. While the user interface is very Venmo-esque with emojis, gifs and a social feed, Tilt has a few differences. Aside from being based on a crowdfunding model where users pool money for weekend road trips and pizza nights, Tilt lists fundraising campaigns in its social feed and is available outside the U.S. Tilt has already launched in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
  3. Our last Fintech Trending post described the growth of P2P payment service clearXchange, which scored Fiserv (F2016) as a distribution partner and added MasterCard Send debit cardholders to its client base. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that clearXchange is rebranding to Zelle in October to step up its competition with Venmo. While there is no word yet on UI and UX specifics such as emojis with special powers, gifs, and social feeds, there have been a few questions about the name Zelle, which Urban Dictionary defines as “a girl who is attractive and intelligent.”

New mobile payments methods are everywhere (and that’s not a good thing)

Last week, CVS joined a group of other retailers, banks, technology providers and payment services companies to launch its own mobile wallet. With the launch, the pharmacy intends to streamline the use of its rewards points with point-of-sale (POS) payments, but what it may actually be doing is adding yet another wet log to the slow-burning, mobile POS-payments fire.

The issue lies in part with low consumer interest and adoption; it’s still faster to swipe (or insert) your credit card than to take out and unlock your phone, open an app, and try to convince the cashier it is a legitimate way to pay. Also at fault is the large, fragmented number of suppliers. We’ve lost count, but here’s a partial list:

  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • Cake Pay
  • CVS Pay
  • Walmart Pay
  • MasterPass
  • Samsung Pay
  • Wells Fargo Wallet
  • Chase Pay
  • Starbucks
  • Capital One Wallet

Other news in the payments space

  • UnionPay’s mobile payments launched in Canada. The China-based payments network is the third largest in the world (following Visa and Mastercard). The launch enables Canadian cardholders to use UnionPay’s QuickPass EMV cards or app to pay at participating merchants.
  • Visa (FD2014; F2010) is in discussions with Nigerian banks to roll out mVisa, its QR code-based mobile payments service, by the end of this year. Consumers will be able to use their smartphone or feature phone to pay for goods with merchants, send domestic P2P payments, and access cash.
  • Apple expands carrier billing to Taiwan and Switzerland. The Taiwanese carrier is EasTone and while there’s no word yet on the carrier in Switzerland, it is expected to be Swisscom. This expands Apple’s carrier-billing partnerships, already operating in Germany and Russia, to four countries.

A big deal in ATMs gets a second look

Diebold (F2014) finalized its merger with German ATM maker Wincor Nixdorf last week, a deal that combined two of the largest three ATM companies. The deal closed for $1.8 billion and makes Diebold Nixdorf the world’s largest ATM company, claiming a third of the worldwide market.

Days after unveiling the newly formed entity, the ATM giant is facing an “in-depth merger investigation” from the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority. The agency said that it is concerned the deal will reduce the number of companies supplying ATMs in the U.K. The companies have until April 26, 2017, to “offer undertaking to address competition concerns.”

This further highlights the opportunity for disruption in the ATM space, a realm where companies such as Liqpay (F2013) have showed off solutions that allow cardholders to use their smartphones for a contact-less way to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Lending

Making Sense of Student Loan Debt—notwithstanding Bernie Sanders’ promises of free college tuition for all, the challenge of student loan debt isn’t going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suggests that loan servicers are a part of the problem, at least when it comes to income-driven repayment plans.

As reported in PYMNTS.com, much of the problem is bureaucratic, with “delays and rejections” that can expose student borrowers to greater interest, penalties, or even lost eligibility. “Student Loan servicers continue to fall short when it comes to helping borrowers address $1.3 trillion in student debt,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “It’s time servicers focus more effectively on processing applications for income-driven repayment plans properly.”

And the CPFB is focused on more than just the student loan servicers. Wells Fargo was slapped with a $3.6 million fine this week for “illegal fees … and [depriving] others of critical information needed to effectively manage their student loan accounts,” according to Cordray. Wells Fargo said that it has already made changes to the processes criticized by the CPFB in its consent order.

It’s impossible to read about student loan debt in the headlines and not think of Student Loan Genius (F2016), which made its Finovate debut this spring. The company empowers employers to help millennial workers in particular pay off their student loan debts faster. This not only helps reduce what is often an onerous debt load (especially relative to the income of the average recent college graduate), but also enables young workers to start saving better.

Development

Make Room for Dev—Google (FD2016 ; F2011) is the latest major technology company dedicating major square footage to support collaboration between “local and international developers and startups.” Writing in the Google Developers Blog, Global Lead Roy Glasberg revealed that more than 14,000 square feet at 301 Howard Street would be the home of a variety of dev-friendly events ranging from Google Developer Group meetings to Tech Talks. The new facility will also host Google’s equity-free, three-month accelerator for emerging market startups, LaunchPad Accelerator.

Earlier this summer, IBM (F2016) announced the opening of its developer space, Bluemix Garage, in New York City. The New York garage, IBM’s sixth, will be hosted by developer networking and education organization, Galvanize. In the U.K., Allied London announced a new fintech co-work space called “The Vault” that will occupy 20,000 square feet in Manchester’s business neighborhood. Meanwhile in Germany, ING-DiBa announced its sponsorship of the latest fintech hub in Frankfurt.

Meanwhile in Asia, PayPal (FD2014; F2012) announced this week the opening of an innovation lab in Singapore, its first such lab outside the U.S. The lab joins PayPal’s other Indo-Asia Pacific innovation lab in Chennai, India, and will be focused on improving productivity among SMEs in the food and beverage industry. We also learned this week that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is setting up a fintech innovation lab, Looking Glass @ MAS1 in that country.

  • “Google Developers to open a startup space in San Francisco” – Google Developers Blog
  • “IBM Opens Bluemix Garage in New York City” – Finovate
  • Allied London unveils fintech startup “Vault” in Manchester – Manchester Evening News
  • ING-DiBa backs new Frankfurt fintech hub – Finextra
  • PayPal opens Innovation Lab in Singapore for next generation fintech – Deal Street Asia
  • Singapore’s MAS gets in on the fintech innovation lab game – Tech in Asia
  • Fintech Groups Will Unite into Global Hubs – Fortune

Life in the blockchain

Swiss-based UBS announced a year ago its work on a virtual currency—Utility Settlement Coin—to facilitate faster transaction settlement. This week, UBS announced it has joined forces with Deutsche Bank, Santander, BNY Mellon, and ICAP to convince central banks to agree to a commercial launch by 2018. Competition for this digital currency include Citigroup’s Citicoin, Goldman Sachs’ SETLcoin, and a similar, yet-unnamed, offering from JPMorgan.

Finovate Debuts: Student Loan Genius Gives Employers Tools to Help Millennial Workers Tackle Debt

StudentLoanGenius_homepage_July2016

A generation ago, employers were enlisted in the movement to help employees save for their retirement. Today, Student Loan Genius is inviting employers to do the same thing when it comes to millennial workers and student loan debt. The Austin, Texas-based startup has built a platform that allows employers to match their employee’s student debt payments, as well as help them manage the balance between paying off debt and saving for retirement.

“We are working with great organizations like Teach for America, Twilio, BP3 in Austin to help shave off tens of thousands of their student loans,” Student Loan Genius founder and CEO Tony Aguilar said. Aguilar, who was the first person in his family to go to college, is also the first person in his family to be saddled with potentially crushing student loan debt. He even carries the amount—$100,000—etched on a business card.

StudentLoanGenius_stage_FS2016

Left to right: Co-founders Emiliano Villarreal and Tony Aguilar demonstrated Student Loan Genius’s Genius Match 401k Contribution feature at FinovateSpring 2016 in San Jose.

The Student Loan Genius solution is straightforward. Clients create an account on its website and answer a set of questions to provide basic information to see what possible repayment programs may be available (i.e., veterans discounts, better terms based on higher credit score, etc.). The platform pulls data from outstanding student loans from various loan servicers and uses algorithms to determine the optimal repayment plan.  The plan also projects forward so the student can see the difference in savings between repayment alternatives.

At FinovateSpring, Student Loan Genius unveiled its Genius Save feature. This feature helps clients manage the challenge of trying to repay debt and save at the same time. Genius Save, as Aguilar explained it, allows companies to attach a student loan benefit to their 401(k) contribution. This enables young workers in particular to focus on paying back debt as quickly as possible, while not losing out on the benefits of saving for retirement as they begin earning an income. “With the flip of a switch,” Aguilar said of his hypothetical millennial employee during his FinovateSpring presentation earlier this year, “she’ll have an additional $170,000 at retirement just by doing what she does every single month: pay her student loans.” Student Loan Genius estimates an average annual savings of more than $3,000 with its platform.

StudentLoanGenius_image_1

Student Loan Genius is in the process of rolling out pilot projects with financial services companies like Prudential. Just this week Student Loan Genius announced a new partnership with TrendKite, a PR analytics firm that will offer the Student Loan Genius benefit to all of its employees and their immediate family members. “For us, taking care of our team means reaching outside of our office walls and doing whatever we can to make [our employees’] lives better,” VP of People at TrendKite Jennifer Cantu said. “When we saw the data, we knew student loan benefits were a requirement, not an option.”

Company facts:

  • Founded in 2013
  • Headquartered in Austin, Texas
  • Employs 14
  • Investors include Gibraltar Ventures, Kapor Capital, Capital Factory, and Village Capital
  • Provides benefits to 45 organizations in the United States

StudentLoanGenius_JovanHackleyWe spoke by phone with Student Loan Genius Director of Marketing and PR Jovan Hackley during FinovateSpring 2016 and followed up with a few questions by email.

Finovate: What problem does Student Loan Genius solve?

Jovan Hackley: Our Genius Platform helps companies and employees significantly reduce the nation’s nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt that the Congressional Budget Office projects will double to $2.4 trillion by 2024.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Hackley: Our primary customers are companies and our users are their employees with student loan debt.

Finovate: How does the Student Loan Genius platform tackle the problem of student loan debt?

Hackley: The Student Loan Genius Platform is the only holistic solution for helping employees pursue freedom from student loan debt. The platform includes:

  • Genius Advisor [enables] online tool access and one-on-one advising to help employees find the best repayment plan and scenario for their goals.
  • Genius Pay  lets employees make student loan payments directly from payroll
  • Genius Match allows employers to make a direct contribution toward paying down an employee’s student debt.
  • Genius Save helps employees increase their  funds/401k by using their student loan payment as a trigger.

Overall, the benefit helps employers attract and retain top talent and helps employees pay down student loans.

Finovate: Do you have a favorite feature of the platform?

Hackley: My favorite part of our technology is Genius Save, which not only helps build wealth, but also shows employees the long-term impact of reducing their student debt.

StudentLoanGenius_image_2

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to take on this challenge?

Hackley: Our CEO is a former financial planner who helped millennials achieve financial wellness.  The spreadsheets, insights, and presentation he developed were the foundation for helping the thousands of users we work with today. 

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Student Loan Genius that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Hackley:  Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing how some of the largest companies and partners are leveraging student loan benefits to create financial wellness. This is in addition to a few new platform/benefit enhancements. 

Finovate: Where do you see Student Loan Genius a year or two from now?

Hackley: Our aim is to be the student-loan benefit-provider for companies across the nation and a key player in creating the legislative progress that ends the personal financial crisis of student [debt] that faces millions of Americans.  


Check out the demo video from Student Loan Genius