July 18, 2016
While on the road to finding the global Tech.Co Startup Of The Year, we’re on a mission to feature and highlight as many rising stars as possible. From tech and hardware, to entrepreneurs improving the accessibility of health information, each month dozens of new startups try to break out and create an impact in their industry.
Meet Lenny From Santa Monica, CA
Lenny is the first iOS app to offer credit lines to Millennials (ranging from $100 to $10,000) all while reporting their payment activity to credit bureaus to build their credit history. Lenny is modernizing credit for Millennials. That group lacks credit, which impedes them later in life for major purchases: 49 percent don’t own a credit card and 43 percent have a credit score under 600. The company empowers users to take control of their finances through credit lines, peer-to-peer payments and credit-score education.
If asked about your core values, what would you say when asked why do you do what you do (as an organization)?
The founder of Lenny, Joe Bayen suffered his own set of credit challenges while he was in college. After using a credit card to purchase a car while in college, he landed himself with a poor credit score. Now having fought his way out of those difficulties, Bayen is keen to make sure that no other students or graduates find themselves with the handicap of a damaging credit rating.
What has been one of your largest challenges as an organization, and how did you overcome it?
Bayen: “A big challenge is appealing to Millennials that don’t think that credit is a necessary thing. They just don’t think about it. The more educational services we offer and push out, we’ve found that we are breaking down barriers. Since launching in March 2016, Lenny has delivered over 2,000 credit lines.”
In one word, how would you describe yourself as a leader?
What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
Bayen: “It depends on the zombies. If they are fast zombies then i would run as fast as I can and find a house, board it up, get some allies, a ton of guns and show them who’s boss. If they are slow zombies…I would just walk around and shoot them.”
What is the best piece of advice or quote you’ve ever received regarding running a business?
Bayen: “Follow your instinct.”
What was your first paying job?
Bayen: “I realized that many students residing on my college campus (University of Miami) loved to indulge on fast food restaurants, but they were relatively out of reach from a walking distance. Uber did not exist, and a cab ride made no economical sense. There was a supply and a demand but no service to bridge the gap.
This is how ‘University 4.0 delivery service,’ an ancient version of postmates or grubhub, was founded. For just $5 an order, I went on to deliver some fresh fast food to my fellow students on a daily basis. The revenue was not extravagant, but it significantly improved my finances and allowed me to finally pay my credit card late fees. However, little did I know that these late payments would remain a black mark on my credit history for the following 7 years.”
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