Fintech startup Kikoff launches out of stealth with over $42 million in funding to build credit for Millennials and GenZ
Having a solid credit history is key to building future financial health. However, for many people, the hardest part about building a credit history is getting access to it in the first place. Enter Kikoff, a San Fracisco-based fintech startup and provider of a credit building platform for Millennials and GenZ. Kikoff is designed to help customers achieve financial wellness.
Today, Kikoff launches out of stealth with $42.5 million total funding to boost the expansion of the ultimate financial ecosystem for Millennials and GenZ. The company recently secured a Series B round for $30M led by Portage Ventures. Its Series A was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and joined by GGV, Coatue, and Core Innovation Capital. Kikoff is also backed by investors including basketball star Stephen Curry, Wex CEO Melissa Smith, and former CFO of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Teresa Ressel.
Founded in 2019 by Christophe Chong and Cynthia Chen, Kikoff is a personal finance platform that offers credit-building solution. Its platform lets the users demonstrate their creditworthiness without the need for a bank account, credit card, or credit score and offers loan to kick off payment history to start building credit.
Kikoff’s team also includes executives well versed in consumer credit and financial technology. Chen’s deep financial experience includes serving as Figure’s Chief Risk Officer and senior executive roles at Capital One and OnDeck. Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Christophe Chong was former Head of Growth at Lime and was in key tech roles at Facebook and Square. Kikoff’s broader executive team brings leadership experience from Credit Karma, Square, Plaid and Deserve.
Kikoff’s core product, the Kikoff Credit Account, allows customers to build a credit history from scratch or to improve an existing one. Driven by the co-founders’ and team’s personal experiences, Kikoff’s mission is to provide refreshingly fair, effective, and simple pathways to meet your financial goals. Kikoff has an instant approval process and enables customers to establish credit history within 30 days. Headquartered in San Francisco, Kikoff is a licensed lender and uses bank-level encryption to protect customer data. For more information, please visit www.kikoff.com or download the app.
“There are many Americans who don’t come from affluent families and have tons of student loan debt. For them and so many others, we wanted to create a better way to build good credit than existing offers in the market,” said Cynthia Chen, Co-founder and CEO of Kikoff. “We’re gratified to be able to introduce this foundational tool that can help put customers on a path to financial health.”
Customers apply for a $500 revolving line of credit which helps to build credit history much like a credit card, allowing purchases at Kikoff’s online store. By using the Credit Account, within months, Kikoff customers can become eligible for better interest rates, competitive credit cards, and home mortgages, among other things. The platform has already seen strong demand, fueled in part by a low-interest-rate environment, which makes loans for cars and homes less expensive.
As many as 45 million Americans are unable to access mainstream credit products according to the Consumer Financial Protection Board. And for those who have credit, many struggle with their credit scores. The average credit score of a GenZer (aged 18-24) is just 674 and of a Millennial (aged 25-40) just 679, both below the 700 score that’s generally considered “good” according to credit reporting agency Experian. A better credit score can be worth thousands of dollars in customer savings. The difference between poor and good credit on a $25,000 car loan can be $6,000 in interest fees, for example.
“Establishing and building credit are the keys to accessing the financial system in the U.S., yet the on-ramps are completely broken for millions of Americans,” said Ansaf Kareem, Partner at Lightspeed. “Kikoff is solving a critical problem for consumers in the early part of their financial journey. We’re excited to continue partnering with them as they grow the platform and offer more innovative products that enable better introductions to the financial system and help people reach their financial goals.”
Credit building tools are just the beginning of Kikoff’s financial wellness platform. The Kikoff Credit Account is an initial product as part of a larger planned financial ecosystem. Kikoff is committed to helping customers across their entire financial journeys and creating an easy and positive banking relationship: from stabilizing cash flows to accumulating savings, and building towards long-term goals such as a mortgage. The company will be using some of the newly raised funds to build out its technology and its team, across all function areas, to bring new products to market.