When I was a freshman in college at the University of Maryland, I met my roommate and future co-founder, Abb Kapoor. We both attended school on full scholarships, mine being a Bill Gates scholarship I’d worked incredibly hard to secure. After our freshman year, we started our search for off-campus housing to share. Abb and I had enough money to cover the expenses, but we came upon the same roadblock over and over. We didn’t have established credit scores, and therefore couldn’t secure housing.
Feeling trapped, we used it as an opportunity to learn more about credit. We earned our certifications in credit counseling, and started to help other people build their credit. Abb has a background in computational finance, so a natural progression led us to building an app or solution to address this issue.
That’s the how and why of Curu, which stands for Credit Guru. Curu is an app helping people with approvals for credit decisions. Lenders reject 60%-90% of all credit applicants, resulting in a negative experience for lenders who don’t like rejecting people, and also for applicants who don’t like being rejected. Curu provides ways to create a positive experience and improve credit scores by giving you reparative actions to take in real time.
We started out helping underbanked individuals like students who needed help securing housing, but at the end of the day, this is a problem the whole middle class faces. It’s not just the people who don’t have access to credit, it’s also people who need help repairing their credit. One missed payment, for example, can hurt someone’s credit score and have an immediate negative impact. Now, Curu is now partnering with banks so we can help the most people.
I’ve had an entrepreneurial mindset for as long as I can remember, so starting Curu was just another step in that direction for me. As a kid in high school, I would sell candy to earn money, but I ended up hiring about eight other students to work for me. I’d go to Costco and stock up on candy, give the inventory to my workers, and we’d sell out every day. I’d developed a small business, but eventually the school store shut us down.
I certainly didn’t let that stop me from making the most of every opportunity I had, and applying to the Bill Gates Scholarship was no exception to that rule. When I was in high school, and kids were applying to different schools and for different scholarships, I was laser focused on one, and that was the Bill Gates Scholarship. It was a very long process and involved writing multiple multi-page essays. I was undaunted, and I was focused. I only applied to one school and this one scholarship, and I gave it all of my focus – and I got it.
I faced challenges growing up, but used those challenges as an opportunity to be resilient. I learned to harness my ability to focus, and because of that, I learned to flip misfortune and turn it into fortune. Overcoming obstacles early in life ultimately made me confident and clear in my goals, so it wasn’t too much of a risk for me to know it was time for me to pursue Curu.
While there are always ups and downs when starting your own business, the ups greatly outweigh the downs. For Curu, one of the biggest ups has been being part of the FIS Fintech Accelerator and forming so many relationships with banks who can help us reach more people than we could have ever imagined. When I was awarded the Bill Gates scholarship, Mr. Gates told me “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I have always taken that to heart. I’m proud that we’re helping people in such big ways and am grateful for the experience at the Venture Center.