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.

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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

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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

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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
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  • 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

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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

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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

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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.