Startup Spotlight #186: Debbie
Debbie is building a unique debt-freedom financial product for borrowers, by borrowers.
Debbie is building the first rewards platform for debt-payoff. Debbie was founded by three Wall Street and fintech veterans who have also personally experienced the struggles of debt. We are backed by some awesome investors who are just as passionate about helping folks break the vicious debt cycle as we are, including Village Global, BDMI, One Way VC, Liquid 2 Ventures, TA Ventures, Green Egg Ventures, and others.
Startup Spotlight: Debbie
Problem: Credit card companies, BNPLers, e-commerce companies, and retailers have worked to create a culture that promotes poor spending decisions; we’ve seen credit card balances grow by $52 billion in Q4 2021, the largest quarterly increase ever recorded by the Fed, while BNPL balances have doubled in the last two years. The “new age” solutions to the problem, such as $300 cash advances, debt auto-pay apps, and debt consolidation, have had little long-term impact because they do not target the underlying behaviors that lead to debt.
Market: U.S. credit card debt stands at $860bn as of Q4 2021, while the refinance market amounts to $167bn in debt consolidation balances. Debbie works to help the folks who are burdened by this deadweight debt - the 40% of American families revolving on their credit card balances and the 30% of BNPL customers who miss a payment.
Solution: Debbie is building the first rewards platform for debt payoff, offering financial products that weave behavioral psychology and incentives to create long-lasting positive change (think Noom for debt). Through Debbie’s debt refinance + savings program, customers can continuously earn rewards as they improve their financial habits and begin to build wealth at the same time.
Team: Frida Leibowitz (ex-Marcus by Goldman Sachs Credit Risk and Product), Rachel Lauren (ex-VC at BDMI, Equity Research at Credit Suisse), and Maxime Fourmault (ex-Earnest Engineering Manager and entrepreneur).
Leibowitz: When we started raising our pre-seed round, our #1 “pass reason” was skepticism around customer acquisition in the highly crowded consumer fintech space. Within 4 months of closing our pre-seed round, we grew our waitlist from 0 to 10k users, with 70% of that being organic and a total blended cost of under $1.50 per user. Not only that, but we’ve been able to convert folks off our waitlist at a rate of 30%, with users hooking up on average 2.5 financial accounts (via Plaid).
This milestone is the direct result of becoming deeply ingrained within the debt freedom community, building alongside our users, and relating to our users by sharing our own debt struggles. We’ve seen very strong engagement and excitement from our waitlist - we now get daily emails and IG messages from people asking to get access to our beta.
Leibowitz: One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is being able to both follow a long-term vision while simultaneously being nimble and adapting to changing circumstances/learnings. As a startup, you want to treat the business as a collection of experiments in the early days; however, this can often throw you off-focus.
We and our investors both know that it takes a long time to get meaningful data and product-market fit. At the same time, we all want to build and grow as quickly as possible. Sometimes we need to focus on proving out one step at a time to make sure we reach our destination without forgetting our luggage.
Leibowitz: You’ll often hear entrepreneurs talk about all the sacrifices you have to make when you’re starting a company- the long nights you’ll spend instead of going out, the friends’ wedding you’ll have to miss, the relationships you may sacrifice. I don’t aspire to be anything like that- maybe it’s the Wall Street Dropout in me that really despises that mentality.
I truly believe that building a company is a marathon for the most part, with some occasional sprints. I would advise entrepreneurs to surround themselves with a strong team that values both hard work and mental health. I feel very lucky that I have two amazing co-founders who share the same values and that we are able to give each other the ability to actually enjoy the ride, not just wait to get to the destination.
Five Cool Founders You Should Know About:
Leibowitz: Here are five founders you should check out next!
Jaime Getto, Founder of Bottled: Bottled allows users to send a “message in a bottle” to anyone, anywhere in the world.
If you liked reading about Debbie, learn more about them in a Case Study here:
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