The following Q&A is a feature by Chris Abbott of Rhodes College, one of The Venture Center's 2017 summer interns. Kathleen Craig is a member of the 2017 VC FinTech Accelerator cohort.
Q: What is the mission of your company, Plinqit?
A: Plinqit is a platform that provides a “digital front door” to community-based banks for millennials. The first way we’re doing that is through a goal-based savings account. The vision is that Plinqit becomes the bank’s face with this next generation, because right now millennials know nothing about community-based banking and why it’s important. So, we’re trying to create a product where they can get started and learn about community-based banking quickly and simply.
Q: A lot of your work is designed to assist millennials with their financial process. What sparked your personal passion to help the next generation?
A: I think that there is a big problem right now in the country, which is that we spend over 30%-40% of our income on debt repayment. When over half of the population can’t come up with $500 in savings, and with that being the ticket to most things like a car down payment or any type of investment account, something is broken and needs to be fixed. We started with young children, teaching them about finances and then it made sense at critical points as you become an adult to create solutions. There are critical points in your life when you need to know about money and you need more information, and you need a good advisor there to help you along the way so that you don’t make poor decisions and continue to do so.
Q: What are some of the things that you hope to achieve while working with The Venture Center’s FinTech Accelerator Program?
A: I’ve worked in banking for many years, which has made me familiar with companies such as Jack Henry Banking and Fiserv, given that we were previously a Fiserv bank. I’m not as familiar with FIS, so I’m really excited to learn about the breadth of their company because I wasn’t aware of how many companies they touch. They’re very respected by community-based banks, so learning about them made a lot of sense.
Q: What do you believe is the key to marketing your company, particularly to the younger generations?
A: This next generation requires things to be friction-free, digital, and they should actually help make the person’s life better. No one wants more to do, no one wants friction, and there is no tolerance for having to figure things out. With our first phase of Plinqit, you can open a Plinqit account in under a minute, which is great and unheard of in traditional banking. Being able to start a relationship with a financial institution that requires no money down and in under a minute, that is a great way to get them started.
Q: What are some of the obstacles that concern you the most when it comes to the growth of your platform?
A: As for any startup, speed and cash. You need to make sure that you have enough capital to do all the things that you want to do. I’m working in an industry of community-based banks that have typically been a bit slower to innovate. We want to support and help them, but at the same time, we don’t have the luxury of a lot of time to figure things out as a startup. Luckily, we’ve partnered with some really innovative banks across the country who are on the same timeline as we are.
Q: What is your biggest motivator when it comes to finding success for Plinqit?
A: From when I was in community-based banking, I know how good these bankers are and how much they care about their customers and they care about people’s finances. I think banking has gotten a bad reputation since 2008, so I think being able to bring these bankers who care about their community and the next generation together with young people who need the education is very exciting and motivating to me.