An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Curu

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

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Curu’s co-founders at the Semifinals, from left: David Potter, CEO and Abb Kapoor, COO

Curu

David Potter, CEO
Abb Kapoor, COO

curucropped
Curu is a website and mobile application that assesses your spending habits and then notifies you of convenient, seamless ways you can improve or enhance your existing practices to optimize your credit score. Curu’s selling point is “credit confidence”—keeping Curu in the background to help you spend smarter will ensure you can make big purchases like buying a car or a house and never worry about high interest rates. Though the target market for Curu is primarily 25-30 year-olds working toward making large purchases, the founders see their product as appealing not just to an age group, but to anyone who is interested in improving their credit score.

DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?
Abb: Months ago, in a conversation with our Dingman granted advisor, Phillip Elliot, he explained how important it is to be completely bought into your idea, product and vision. He explained that it went beyond just a passion commitment, but it was also a time and monetary commitment as well. It was after that conversation that David and I knew we weren’t ever going to stop until Curu became a platform that would help millions. We were both extremely passionate about our own problems with credit, and we knew it was an amazing opportunity to help other people in our exact same situations. After that and months of planning, customer interviews, Curu related trips, product iterations and team expansion, we knew this was our lives. And we fell in love with the business.
Ever since then, we have been putting in countless hours a week. Once signup for Pitch Dingman came around, we knew that an opportunity for $15K would be huge! Along with that, we have been following Pitch Dingman Competition since we got to school as freshmen, so it was one of our goals from the start to compete and win Pitch Dingman! We considered waiting until our senior years to participate because we would have a much more developed product and more metrics, but decided that we would apply this year in case we made semi-finals. Fortunately we did and were lucky enough to advance to the final round!

DC: What have you learned from the Semifinals that will help you better prepare for Finals?

Abb: It’s essential to understand your audience. Dave and I have been working on this for a year and a half, so if he pitches Curu to me I’m going to understand it, but if he goes down the hall and pitches it, it’s going to be a completely different situation talking to people who have no idea what you’re doing. So what we found is one of our biggest goals that we’ve definitely accomplished is finding the best ways to make this more relatable to who we’re talking to.

David: We knew that super-compelling technology isn’t what sells, but we got lost in ourselves and our own circle of people who understood it more. So it’s our job to not rely on the compelling technology or validation from people who have heard [the pitch] a hundred times, and finally understand it. It has to be digestible in the first sentence. With each and every sentence that you give, you should be strengthening the message and the reasoning behind why someone would use it and what it does.

DC: What has Curu been working on since Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals?

David: Immediately after [Semifinals] we had two rounds of good news. One was we received an investment from our family and friends round of funding, that was for $20,000, and then we recently got accepted into an accelerator, which was another $20,000. So, we are definitely leveraging that for our bigger business goals. As for the competition we’re looking to leverage those funds to address our areas of weakness which are traction and getting our product out.

Abb: We’ve been working on our waitlist for our inital app—we’re at over 4,000. Another thing we’ve been working on is the student market. We don’t want students to feel the burden that we felt. Helping people sign up for their first cards when they can, but then also not just throwing them in the water–teaching them how to swim, teaching them how to fish by knowing their credit score.

DC: What are some goals you are looking to reach before Finals?

Abb: Securing our affiliate programs—working directly with bank partners. We have a team of developers who have been working on our public release product, the web platform, releasing mid-April to May, and our iPhone application will launch in February.

David: We’re looking to save people money on large purchases—be it a car or a loan app again. And we have someone who got a car with the app.

Abb: Being on our services got him a lower interest rate on the car as well. So leveraging our platform being out and then having stories of people being successful with their financial future because of us.

DC: If you win Pitch Dingman Competition, what will you do with the $15,000?

Abb: The $15,000 will be our vital runway towards our initial web platform, which is going to have all the lines of credit and then a credit score. Adding all these components and working with these third-party providers costs a good amount. So $15,000 would really help us to secure access to those resources as well.

David: $15,000 would go toward in-housing payments. Right now our service costs users, but if we in-house these payments and get that absolutely free, which is what we’re working on, then the entire service becomes free. And then all the automation becomes incredibly more valuable. You’re not paying a dime for all this to happen.


This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Read our previous feature on Curu when they participated in the Summer 2016 cohort of Terp Startup, the final phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program.

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