With 70% of recent graduates going into the workforce saddled with student debt, Laurel Taylor saw a massive opportunity to rethink the way debt repayment, roundup, and refinancing was handled. Her startup, FutureFuel.io, uses machine learning and technology to reimagine how employers can use student debt repayment as an attractive recruiting and retention tool. Taylor sat down with the Financial Health Network to share her company story.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I’ve lived the problem my company aims to solve–as a leader looking for innovating ways to retain top talent, and as a college student. As a business school grad student applying for student loans, I had a credit score north of 800 but was only offered a 9% interest rate on a student loan. This experience showed the business opportunity and the need for innovation for student loan indebtedness and inappropriate risk profiling. My aspiration is for student debt benefits to be embedded at the core of financial health and wellness benefits packages offered by employers.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting your company?
Because FutureFuel.io is inventing a net new category of employee benefits, student loan round ups, repayment, and refinance, timing market adoption and new category creation is tricky. We’ve addressed this challenge by working to close employer customers and iterating new products. Our goal is to help employers offer a high value benefit to employees at a modest budgetary ask. We have to do that by very closely managing our burn.
What new innovation in fintech are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the explosive potential of this new category of employee benefits. Our mission is for student debt centric benefits to become a new normal in financial health and wellness, just like 401k.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started your company?
I wish I’d known from the beginning that establishing an advisory board with specific, performance-based milestones can dramatically accelerate success.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?
The most valuable advice for me comes from my mom who taught me “actions speak louder than words.” This philosophy is important in establishing trust, credibility, rapport, and relationships within business and life.