Kikoff Raises $ 30 Million for Hybrid Financial Education and Consumer Credit Services

kekovHoy, the personal finance platform aimed at helping consumers build credit announced that it has raised $ 30 million in a Series B round.

The capital is in addition to the $ 12.5 million the startup raised through the foundation and previously unannounced first rounds, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Portage Ventures led the Kickoff Series B, which included participation from Lightspeed, GGV, Coatue and Core Innovation Capital. The company’s past sponsors include NBA star Steve Curry, Wex CEO Melissa Smith, and Teresa Rissell, former chief financial officer of the US Treasury.

CEO Cynthia Chen the CTO Christoph Chong co-founded the San Francisco-based company in late 2019 with the goal of helping consumers with no credit history create one, and help those with credit history continue to build credit. Chen said the couple comes from “low to middle income” families and says they want to help others who also come from similar economic backgrounds. Chen grew up in Beijing before coming to the United States for college on a scholarship, and says he was surprised by his parents’ experience of having to borrow money from family and friends to buy a television.

While the company declined to disclose difficult revenue figures, Chen said Kekov had “hundreds of thousands” of customers after being out of beta for half a year.

Kikoff’s product, the “Kikoff Credit Account,” is the first in a set of planned offerings, all aimed at improving consumers’ financial health.

“There are a lot of Americans who don’t come from wealthy families and have tons of student loan debt,” Chen said. “For them and many others, we wanted to create a better way to generate good credit than the current offerings on the market.” While anyone can use his platform, Chen says the vast majority of his clients are millennials and geniuses because they desperately need a way to build credit.

Image credits: kekov

With Kikoff, the couple aims to give people not only a way to build a credit history, but also a way to increase consumers’ financial literacy. Rather than offering a debit or credit card that can be used anywhere, Kikoff restricts the use of your credit limit to the settings of an online store. Users can buy things like e-books that cover a variety of finance-related topics, like how to plan and budget, or profit from trading bitcoins. You also have a selection of courses you’ve vested in, covering topics like teaching personal finance, setting up an e-commerce store, or even learning Python programming skills.

“When a consumer buys something in our store, [that] The article that will help this person improve their financial habits or help them make money by making smarter investments, starting their own small business or learning skills, Chen told TechCrunch.

The company also does not charge interest on the credit line or finance charges.

“There is no cost to borrow money,” he said. Instead, Kikoff collects revenue by taking the margin between the wholesale price of the items he sells in his store and the retail price that customers pay.

To sign up, customers first apply for a $ 500 revolving line of credit that can be used for purchases at Kikoff’s online store. The company claims that in a few months, its clients may “be eligible for better interest rates, competitive credit cards and home loans,” among other things, in a relatively short period of about 45 days.

Kikoff has intentionally worked to help his clients build credit in what Chen describes as a “very responsible approach.”

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“That’s why they can only use the product within our online store, and we have a number of reasonably priced items in the store to purchase,” he told TechCrunch. “So it’s relatively easy for them not to overspend or make any kind of impulse purchase that they can’t afford later.”

Ensaf Karim, a partner at Lightspeed, said he can sympathize with Chen and Chung’s experiences in having to create and build credit for the first time, “especially as immigrants and first-generation Americans.”

He said a credit score is the key to your financial future, yet many Americans struggle to create and build credit. “Neighborhood’s products may allow you to check your credit score, but they do not provide tools or guidelines to improve it without charging a fee or requiring a significant cash commitment up front,” he added. “Kikoff has created a product that provides real value through a simple structure with no fees to get started and build credit. And they are just beginning ”.

The Kikoff executive team certainly has impressive financial technology expertise. Chen previously served as Chief Risk Officer at Figures and held senior executive positions at Capital One and OnDeck. Chung was a former head of growth at Lime and led the growth teams at Facebook and Square. Kekov’s Chief Product Officer Andrew Brix was Credit Karma’s 15th employee and served as Chief Product Management Officer. He was also a senior product manager for e-commerce. Patrick Glover, Chief Marketing Officer, has worked for Plaid and Square and Vinni Bala, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Credit Officer for Deserve.

Other companies with similar goals that have recently obtained project financing include Tome de Crédito and Welcome to Technology, among other things.

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