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Episode
92

Christian Zimmerman

Co-founder & CEO of Qoins

Ep
92

The Vicious Cycle Of Debt - Christian Zimmerman of Qoins

Jan 4, 2022
With
Christian Zimmerman
39:25

The Vicious Cycle Of Debt

Imagine a debt-free world where you’ve fully paid off your student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and mortgage. That’s how Christian Zimmerman, one of the co-founders of Qoins, envisions the world will be with the help of their app. Qoins is a debt free financial app that helps people achieve financial freedom by starting a habit of saving money. The beauty of this app is that everything is fully automated too. Now, who wouldn’t want to use this? 


Christian shares his own experience with student loans and how creating Qoins wasn’t initially part of his plan. He simply wanted a solution to his personal problem. After reaching a low point in his life dealing with a health condition, Christian soldiered on. One thing led to another and serendipitously, Qoins was born. 


He talks about the validation they received that became their impetus to building Qoins, the process of raising funds and finding investors, what sets them apart from other financial apps, as well as how him being Latino and his co-founder Nate being black somehow played a role in all this. Christian also walks us through the Qoins journey and how exactly their product works both for setting money aside and paying off debt. Financial debt is something that plagues pretty much all adults, so what Qoins does truly creates an impact, because just like maintaining physical health, our financial wealth and financial health are important aspects of our lives too. 


Christian’s key lessons and quotes from this episode were:

  • “I never really told myself I couldn't do something. And so, I think that was one of the biggest things that I took when I started my own company was that, I have to have that type of mentality, otherwise, it's not going to work.” (15:36)
  • “The win is when we're able to say that we've successfully exited. We're able to create impact and again that goal, hitting that 100 million dollars in total debt paid off or a billion dollars, whatever we can to make sure that we did create a positive impact in our customers' lives.” (23:58)
  • “By automating this habit, we build education. By educating the customer, we then create impact, and then it's a full circle.” (34:29)
  • “Personal finance has three big pillars: automation, education, and recommendation.” (34:42)
  • “We're in the business of putting ourselves out of business… if we've done a good job of helping everyone become debt-free, then we've probably put ourselves out of business.” (36:09)


In this episode, we also talked about:

  • Christian’s personal problem with debt and the debt issue as a whole (2:00)
  • Bootstrapping Qoins and how they raised funding (9:47)
  • Dealing with health issues and the entrepreneurial mindset (14:31)
  • Christian and his co-founder Nate’s experience as minority startup founders (21:59)
  • Challenges they faced and how they overcame it (26:48)
  • The Qoins experience (29:23)
  • How Christian sees the world in 10 years if Qoins succeeds (36:09)

Transcript of the episode

Maiko Schaffrath  00:02

You are listening to Impact Hustlers, and I am your host, Maiko Schaffrath. I have made it my mission to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to solve some of the world's biggest social and environmental problems. And for this reason, I am speaking to some of the best entrepreneurs out there who are solving problems such as food waste, climate change, poverty, and homelessness. My goal is that Impact Hustlers will inspire you, either by starting an impact business yourself, by joining the team of one, or by taking a small step, whatever that may be, towards being part of the solution to the world's biggest problems. In today's episode, I speak to 92 - Christian Zimmerman, co-founder and CEO of Qoins, an app helping people pay off debt and achieve financial freedom by starting a habit of saving money. The app uses a range of automated ways of saving money, for example, by rounding up card payments, or taking a fixed amount from each paycheck and automatically pays off debt as well as accumulate savings for their users. Qoins has helped its users pay off more than 20 million US dollars in debt so far, and it's great to have you on the show today, Christian.


Christian Zimmerman  01:23

Yeah, thank you, Maiko. Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.


Maiko Schaffrath  01:28

Great to have you. So, let's dive straight into the problem that you're solving. I think probably everybody listening to this has heard of what a massive problem debt has become for a lot of people. Debt has been inherently connected to the millennial generation, especially. You're based in the US. There's this massive topic of college debt as well. Tell us a bit more about the problem. How big is that problem right now?


Christian Zimmerman  02:00

Yeah, so for me personally, I studied Business Management at Georgia State University here in Atlanta. And coming out of college, I was the first one my family to go to college, graduate, so I had student loans as well as personal loans, credit card debt. And so, when I graduated, I wanted to try to see what I could do to solve my own problem. And in doing so, I found that I wasn't the only one that had this problem. Obviously, on the student loan side, maybe one in five millennials have some form of student loan debt. But from there, it typically correlates to other types and  other forms of debt as well, such as credit card debt or personal loans. I want to say now that the total number is $14 trillion across all types of debts. That's student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, personal loans, mortgages, which mortgage isn't as bad, but it's still a large lump sum that you're putting down to purchase an asset, hopefully. In this economy right now, it's a big asset. But yeah, that's how big of a problem it is. And with the pandemic, obviously, the government came in and helped in support with cash, which I think was great. Some people definitely use it to pay off debts. Others held onto it, and you're starting to see now that the economy is opening up a little bit more that people are starting to spend more. It's holiday season. It's Black Friday today. I think we're going to see a lot of the credit card debt amounts increase economically going into 2022.


Maiko Schaffrath  03:37

Yeah, and that seems like a vicious circle that a lot of people are in, where debt is just accumulating, interest payments are accumulating. I think on your website, you're mentioning that the average US citizen pays about more than $1,300 just in interest per year in terms of credit card debt, something like that, if I remember correctly. Tell us about your personal situation when you came out of college. How was that situation? Not everybody then decides to actually start a company as a result of a situation like this, so how did you get to actually start Qoins as a result of your own situation?


Christian Zimmerman  04:18

Yeah, so for me, I had worked at two startups in the past, one while I was in college and another one that was similar to the initial product coming out of college. One of my best friends, they got me the job there, and I got to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to start a company from the ground up, all the dirty work that comes into getting your hands dirty and making the things come to fruition from the vision to actual product. For me, I come out of college, I had this initial problem, pain point that I had. I wasn't actually trying to build a product off of it at the time. I was really just looking for a solution out there was already out there or seeing if there was anything out there. And there's Acorns, there's Capital, there's Digit, all great products, but they only base focus on asset-based savings, so focus on the future. And I thought to myself, "What if we looked at the other way? Instead of looking at assets, why aren't we looking at liabilities and help you save that front?," so the credit card debts or the student loans that you have, and applying similar methodologies around saving methods. So, I looked to find a product that value prop was less around the savings and taking it a step further and to actually facilitate the payment forming. And so, that's what we decided to build. There was this pitch competition at the time that I had applied for. I had just come up with this idea for Qoins and long story short, I made top 10 for this pitch competition. It was for a $100,000 investment, which I've never obviously seen that type of money at the time and made top 10, and all I had at the time was a[n] Unbounce landing page, a Fiber video that I paid $35 for, and then the script that my friend had helped me write out for the video, and a Google forms that we had added to the website for a waitlist. That was our initial MVP. One of the things that I learned in the past was that don't spend a lot of money upfront. Really try to validate the product that it is you're trying to build. Are there customers? Are there people that even have any interest in it? And then from there, then expand on spending money. So, that's the approach I took. But yeah, it was really all serendipitous in the aspect of me wanting to try to solve my own problem. I wasn't trying to build a product at the time, but this pitch competition was a calling to go and apply to get myself jumpstarted. And then, within a month, I had to really show it, validate. Does this have any legs behind it? And so, once I knew that it did, I decided to just take that leap of faith, leave that company that I was working at. They let me go as well, because when you're in startups, they want to know that you're 100% focused at that place, but they saw my mindset and where my focus was, so they were like, "Hey, you go and do this. We're going to help you for the next month, so you can get your feet on the ground," which is obviously really awesome. But it was almost like, "Great. Now what? I have to do this." And so, that's the mindset I had.


Maiko Schaffrath  07:36

So, at the point that you left that startup to focus on Qoins, you had done a bit of validation, right? So, you spent a couple of bucks on basically having a landing page, getting some initial interest. That's all you had done at that point. What type of validation did you have at that point when you went into Qoins and started to focus your time on that?


Christian Zimmerman  08:03

Yeah, so once I started, as I mentioned, I had that waiting list. I think I had about a few hundred people that had already signed up, people that I didn't know. That was my big thing. It was like, "Can I get people that I don't even know signing up for a waitlist for a product that I haven't even built yet?," and that would tell me that, "Okay, it's not just my friends and family that are supporting me or saying, 'Hey, good job.'" I wanted to see, is this something that the outer world would actually be interested in? So, that was what my initial validation was. From there, I met my co-founder, Nate, and we started working together probably about a month or so after I had come up with the idea. I hadn't actually built the product yet. I knew what it needed to look like, but I hadn't built it. And so, he built a framework of what it would look like, and that was also a very exciting moment for me, because I hadn't seen anything that had come to from my head into an actual product that people could start using. And so, that was another validation point where I was, "Okay. Now, we have a product. We have a list of customers that are willing to pay. Now, we just need to start verifying, at what price point are the people willing to pay at?" So, we started out at a dollar, but during that time, again, we weren't really making money, per se. We were just excited about solving this problem and figuring out the things that come with it.


Maiko Schaffrath  09:28

And at least initially, if I understand correctly, you were bootstrapping everything. I think you took like a part-time job to fund yourself during that period. Was that the case? How long did you do that? And when was the point where you got some outside funding in some way?


Christian Zimmerman  09:47

Yeah, I definitely bootstrapped initially. I had never thrown myself into these type of waters, venture capital funding and angel investing, things like that. I didn't know anything about that at the time, so everything that I was doing, I was learning as I went. I hadn't heard about, "These are some of the routes that you can take." I heard bootstrapping was one of the routes you can take. So, unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of friends and family that could go and throw in $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $100,000 at the time. But over time, I was able to build a network. But yeah, to your question, we did bootstrap it. I think it took about, before we fully actually started paying ourselves, legitimately about two years. We got into an accelerator program about a year and a half after we started. In that, I think we got $20,000, and that really didn't pay us. It was really to go back into the business, but that was the most we had got at any one point. And then from there, we had got our first angel investor, which was also pretty crazy, because during that time that we were bootstrapping, I was doing part-time jobs. I was doing brand ambassador work where I would work for different brands and manage different events that they were hosting. Actually, when I was leaving my job and then looking to figure out how it was going to pay the bills, a buddy of mine who lives in Texas had reached out to me say, "Hey, there's this job that you can do full-time, but it's on your schedule." And at the time, I was like, "I'm not going to get that job. I already have a full-time job," but then obviously, I left. And then, literally the same day that I left or the day after, he called me back and said, "Hey, do you still want the job?" And so, it was crazy how everything aligned really perfectly for me. So, I was able to do that job, and that was paying really well being able to still focus on Qoins. And then, unfortunately, I got really sick, and so I ended up being stuck in the hospital for a little bit. This was also right as I left the other company. I think I have a good path of success to continue Qoins and then I really got into this trough of not depression, but just really dark point where I didn't know what was going to happen at that point. So, I started getting creative. I think going to that new year, I did have to take unemployment checks which, at the time, I felt like was super not something that you did, but obviously now, I understand the value of, that's the reason it's there for. It wasn't that I was trying to mooch off of it. I was really in a position that I needed it. And so, I set the pride aside and used that for a little bit. And then, I was able to get back on my feet. And from there, I started getting really creative. I had a car that I used to drive for Uber, and so I started renting my car out. My biggest thing was time, "How much how can I give myself back time that I can utilize to put back into the business?" And so, I started renting out my car. So, instead of Ubering, I would rent the car out, charge $50 a day, and it was actually pretty lucrative. I had it rented out for almost three years. Two or three years, it was rented out almost nonstop. I think I got the car back throughout that whole time, maybe a month. And so, I had a whole system down. I had an oil change shop. I had a part shop. I had a carwash. I had a gas place all within one block. And then, once I got the car back out, I had to have this rotary system, and then have it rented back out. And so, that was how I paid most of most of my bills after that. Yeah.


Maiko Schaffrath  13:31

Wow. So, while you were trying to build a company, you were actually also running a household to fund yourself with the car and everything else. 


Christian Zimmerman  13:42

Yeah. 


Maiko Schaffrath  13:43

What strikes me the most, I think on another show, you talked about health condition as well and pretty serious surgery at a time. You're basically in this position: you're getting out of college, you know that you're in massive debt, you want to solve that problem of your own college debt, and your decision is to start a company without a lot of funding, improvise, basically hustle to make sure that you can pay the bills. At the same time, this health issue is coming up. A lot of people would have given up at that point. I'm wondering why you haven't. Is it just your DNA or what was it at the moment, at that time that kept you going?


Christian Zimmerman  14:31

Yeah, so I think for me, I'm an only child but I've always had this very risk-oriented appetite, obviously calculated. During college, I had taken the risk of taking a semester off, almost a whole year and then traveling abroad and just getting to know myself, getting to understand what it is I wanted to do in life. I always had an entrepreneurial mindset, so even when I was in college, when I took that time off, I went to Argentina and did a Study Abroad program there not associated with the school, just with myself and one of my mentors. And then, I got to learn the business acumen outside of school, which was what really excited me. And then, I went to Spain where I taught English. But while I was teaching English, I was also selling my own clothing brand at the time to skate shops. And so, that's how I funded myself while I was teaching English. I knew I had this energy and this hustle to figure things out. That was one thing that I always knew. I never really told myself I couldn't do something. And so, I think that was one of the biggest things that I took when I started my own company was that, I have to have that type of mentality, otherwise, it's not going to work. But obviously, with the health issue, I felt like I had lost that mentality a little bit. As I mentioned, I did feel a little bit depressed. I'd feel a part of it was the medication that I was on, because I had had two open heart surgeries prior to this. I was getting told I was going to have a third one, because I had this infection within my heart, and that's pretty depressing. It sucks, especially as I had just left the job, I'm trying to start my own company. I had a realization moment while I was in the hospital. It just felt like this weight got taken off my shoulders. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work, and the best thing that can happen is it becomes wildly successful, and I learned something throughout the whole process. Once that clicked in my head, I didn't really worry about anything else that came with the whole journey. Honestly, I love the whole process. I feel like sometimes, it takes longer than you expect, but I've learned so much and that's the mentality I keep today is if I personally can't take care of my health, then none of these other pieces matter. And if I can take care of my health, then I should try to do everything that I can in my power to strive to be as great as I can and strive to do as much as I can for this business and strive to be as much of an example of what you can do when you don't have anything.


Maiko Schaffrath  17:17

And I assume it also gives you a perspective, isn't it? Like if you face a-


Christian Zimmerman  17:22

Oh yeah, absolutely.


Maiko Schaffrath  17:23

Situation, it just gives you perspective on how little- maybe in the end, as much as you think the business obviously matters to you, but in the end, your health is on a whole 'nother level.


Christian Zimmerman  17:36

Exactly, exactly, so yeah.


Maiko Schaffrath  17:39

Thanks for sharing. Wow. One thing I'd like to get into a little bit further and then- wow, there’s so much to your story that I'd love to dive deeper into. We'll talk about the mechanics of Qoins a little bit as well in a second. But before that, I'd love to go a little bit deeper into your fundraising journey. At which point did you actually get external funding? Did you find it was relatively straightforward? Was it really tough to fundraise for you? How did you approach that?


Christian Zimmerman  18:15

Yeah, it's funny. My current investors always say that, "You're really good at fundraising." For me, I'm like, "I don't know about that." It's definitely taken a while for all of it to click. But yeah, like I said, our first real check, our first official check came from an investor, as I mentioned, that I met just randomly. We were working out of this co-working space, and one of my mentors at the time, he wasn't a mentor at the time, I was looking for office space, and he was like, "Hey, come work out of this office space. We like what you're doing. We think you'll do really well. We have free office space. So, all you have to do is help out with certain things around the office, co-working space." I said, "Of course." That was a great opportunity. One of the things that I would do is send people their new coffee mug. Everyone that joined this co-working space would actually get a coffee mug. I messaged this one investor told him, "Hey, your coffee mug's ready." He reached back out said, "Hey, I love what you're doing," connected with him organically, and long story short, he was able to invest our first $10,000 and that was the summer of 2018. And then, fall of 2018, we had applied for accelerator programs, and that's where we got that $20,000 check from Queen City Fintech. But it took another six months after that for us to raise a real round of $750,000, and it took me taking a step back to understand, "Okay, at what level are you trying to connect with a certain type of investors?" Because what I had found was that everyone's the ones looking for venture capital right out the gate, but really, there's friends and family. If there's no friends and family, there's angel investors, high net worth individuals. And then if you can't get there, then obviously, the venture capital, but all in all, you have to have traction, you have to show numbers, you have to have a good value prop, and a business model that sounds like it can succeed for there to be any interest. The other thing that I found was that you can't just go and say, "Hey, I need money. Give me money." That's not how this works. It really does take a lot of relationship-building, getting to know each side of the table. And so, that's really what I did. I started reaching out, cold emailing everyone that I didn't know. If I was traveling, I would cold email everyone that I saw "investor" in their tag in LinkedIn, and that started working for me. Our first check, the $750,000 initial money raised, that was really off of a cold email from LinkedIn. I was able to connect with the founder who worked at, I believe, Acorns at the time. He wasn't a founder at Acorns, but he was an employee at Acorns at the time. And so, from there, we were able to connect, flew out to LA or Orange County, and was able to raise our round just off of that cold email. That doesn't happen for everyone, but that was my method.


Maiko Schaffrath  21:14

Wow, alright. Maybe something that isn't spoken much about, we had some episodes with founders in this space in the past, but you yourself, you're Latino, you're a first-time founder. Your co-founder, Nate, is a black founder, I'm not sure if he's a first-time founder as well. But if you look at any of the statistics, you've seen that minority-founded startups are massively underfunded and neglected by investors. Is that something that you experienced yourself? Did you find the cards were stacked against you?


Christian Zimmerman  21:59

Yeah, I definitely have felt that from time to time. I think, as well, we're starting to see that change a little bit. We definitely get the support. Obviously, when it comes to the money and the valuation side of things, I always have felt that everything has been undervalued from my perspective. But again, to your point, typically, that's a normal thing based on me being Latino and Nate being black. But yeah, it's one of the things I try not to think about anymore. I mean, I definitely think about it, and it's in the back of my head, and it's definitely a conversation that needs to be had and be open about. But like I mentioned before, if I'm not able to succeed, then I'm not able to even have that type of conversation, because then, I'll be another statistic, and I don't want that. So, I'm doing whatever I can in my power to continue to figure out ways to create wins, to keep pushing forward even if there are things that- and I've made mistakes too throughout the process. So, understanding what valuations look like, how you go about calculating them, how you go about actually raising with from the right investor, finding the right partners, all those things take into account of why this is a big problem. But yeah, absolutely. I mean, we've only raised to date, I want to say just under $2.5 million since our inception. We've been around for four and a half years, whereas our big our closest competitors have all raised like $10+ million. So, I think that alone already tells you we've done away more I think with the amount of dollars that we've raised, and we're in those same types of conversations with those same competitors. So, on that front, it's obviously very exciting. But yeah, we'd love to get another hundred million dollars from investments, but that's not a win for us. I think the win is when we're able to say that we've successfully exited. We're able to create impact and again that goal, hitting that 100 million dollars in total debt paid off or a billion dollars, whatever we can to make sure that we did create a positive impact in our customers' lives.


Maiko Schaffrath  24:14

Love it. That's a really important lesson to just keep focusing on that and maybe at some point, also giving back into the ecosystem when you're an exited founder and you can contribute and give back and invest and people as well. Did that situation of having raised relatively little funding compared to some of your competitors out there, did that shift your focus on having to generate revenue pretty earlier than them, trying to be profitable earlier than them? Do you feel like you're following a different strategy because of that?


Christian Zimmerman  24:53

Yes and no. One of the other things, we're based in Atlanta so raising capital here, I had almost never raised capital. I have all done it from angel investors. And so, here, if you're consumer startup, you need to either raise a lot of money to grow or you raise, generate revenue to show traction. For us, yeah, we definitely had always focused on, how do we generate, monetize our customers, to really more than anything stay afloat? And then secondly, obviously now, especially with the pandemic, how do we create a longer LTV for the customer? That's been our big focus now and less on the growth or scale of the customer. But now that we're getting post-pandemic, we're definitely trying to change that focus more on the customer growth versus just revenue growth. But yeah, absolutely. The way that we've approached it has been much more different in the aspect of, I couldn't just go out there and get $2 million and burn it and say, "Okay, cool. I'm going to grow X amount customers for free." I couldn't do that. I had to figure out ways to obviously pay the bills that we were using and the resources we were using to actually develop the product, to maintain the business while also being able to make sure that our customers are taken care of as well.


Maiko Schaffrath  26:17

So, what I'd like to ask you is, throughout this whole journey that we just discussed since starting Qoins as a first-time founder, what was one of the hardest lessons that you had to learn during that journey? I'm sure there's a million lessons and things that you maybe would do differently. Every founder I speak to has that, but is there anything that jumps out at you, a lesson learned that you can share with people listening to this?


Christian Zimmerman  26:48

I think probably one of the biggest things was last year, so with everything being remote and not being able to interact with my team as much as I'd like to, and then also just interacting with investors also on a more remote platform, I will say is, communication is important. Whether you don't like something or you do like something, just being open about your perspective on things and having professional conversations about what it is you're trying to get out of that particular conversation or a particular goal that you have for the business, I think is very important, because sometimes, you can get so into the weed of things and just be focused on building, building, building or growing, growing, growing that you also forget how to communicate with your team effectively in helping them understand what the overall chain goals are for success. And also, with founders, just understanding that you guys are a team and there's no separation of business. It is a one business piece. I would say that's probably one of the biggest things for me. And then, the last thing is just trusting your gut. I always say that. Me and my co-founder, Nate, I'm a very big picture thinker, where he's very methodical, but I think that having both is really important. But at the same day, if you trust your gut and you've definitely thought through the process and some of the scenarios, then I think that's the right approach to take, because if you don't feel right in the decision-making, then you're going to continue to have this type of inability or lack of feeling like you're doing the right thing.


Maiko Schaffrath  28:43

Got it. Two last topics to focus on. One is a little bit more insight on where Qoins is right now in terms of the product. I mentioned in the beginning, you've helped your users pay off more than 20 million US dollars in debt already. I'd love to dive a little bit deeper into the mechanics of that and how that works. And then, after that, go look at the future a little bit. Maybe let's start first, if a user signs up to Qoins right now, what are they getting through the Qoins experience at the moment? How does it work?


Christian Zimmerman  29:23

Yeah, so how the product works is when someone first signs up, they're obviously there to pay off debt and/or just save money. When they first sign up, we ask them, "Okay, what goal is it that you're trying to achieve? Is it to pay off debt or is it to save money?" Typically, it's to pay off debt, so we'll go that route. Once we've asked them, "Okay, great. That's the goal that you're trying to achieve," we then ask you, "Okay, how do you want to save throughout the month to achieve this goal? What is the saving method that you want to set money aside with? Is it rounding up money through everyday purchases? Is it payroll deductions? Is it weekly deposits? Is it algorithmic savings?," so just give the customer more sense of optionality to decide what works best for them and their budgeting methods, or even if they don't budget, something that helps them create a much more structured system for setting money aside. That's the second step. And then third, in the event that they're paying off debt, we're like, "Okay, great. We know you want to pay off debt. This is how you want to set money aside throughout the month to pay off that. Now, which debt is it that you want to pay now? Where do you want that money to go?" And so, that's where the specific type of debt comes into effect so, is it a credit card? Is it a student loan? Is it an auto loan? Is it a mortgage? And from there, we just asked the account number associated with that loan and then maybe the address payable if we don't have it on file, which typically we will, and that's pretty much it. We'll then automate the whole process of setting the money aside throughout the month. If you do weekly deposits, every Friday, money will get into your Qoins account. That'll happen every week, and then once per month on a specific date that you can set, all the money that you saved in the Qoins account will then be sent out to the lender on your behalf. You don't have to tap a button. You don't have to hit anything. We're actually automating the process of not only saving the money, but then sending the payment out for you as well. That's how our product works now. And then obviously, on the saving side, it's the same steps except instead of the money going out to a lender, it's just sitting within your Qoins account, and you can see the accumulation of the funds being held, whether it's for an emergency fund, rainy day, a specifical goal that you want to set up within savings. But that's really much the process. And again, our value prop is for people that aren't paying down their debts in full every month and there's a lot of people, it's almost half of consumers either pay their credit cards in full or they only pay their monthly minimums, and we're really tailored to the people that are only paying monthly minimums, they probably have auto-pay set for the monthly minimum, we're saying, "Okay, well, if you can pay extra every month, let's do that, because that's going to lower your overall interest that you pay, the overall time it takes to pay down the debt, and improve your credit score, because you're making double payments on this loan every single month."


Maiko Schaffrath  32:09

Got it. Amazing. Quite a while ago, I had the founder of Plum on the podcast. I don't know if you came across them. They're based in London here, and they're in the space of helping people save more money also through automatic savings. And when I talked to them and also, I talked to a bunch of users, it's just amazing to see how many people are able to save money that they didn't even think they would be able to afford to save just by small amounts being taken out of the account. To be honest, I've been in the same situation myself as well with credit card debt, where I was in the mindset, "I either have to pay off everything at once, or I try to minimize the payments as much as possible, so I can get by and still have money to live," and you don't really feel like you have half any room for more than that. So, how's the share for your users? Is it a lot of people that previously didn't have any savings or that didn't really have any way to pay off the debt beyond maybe the minimum payments they were making? How does it impact your users?


Christian Zimmerman  33:25

Yeah, so I mean, primarily, there's definitely other products out there to help you save. We didn't come into the market saying, "Hey, we'll help you save better," per se, because the roundup methodology has already been there. There's obviously a lot of products that were already doing that. What we said was, "For those of you that are making monthly minimum payments," and most of our customers that we work with do, we said, "Okay, great. Use our product, and we will help you save, and we will also help you pay down the debt faster, because we're automating the whole process." Majority of our customers come in and they're either strung tight on money, or they feel like they are strung tight on money. They're lower to middle-class income households. Most of them are college-educated and they're saying, "Hey, I just probably wasn't taught really well around financial literacy," or, two, "I just feel like I'm not in a position to do that, because I haven't built that habit and automated it for me." So, we come in and say- we don't even say anything. We say, "Let's take the action of automating this habit first. By automating this habit, we build education. By educating the customer, we then create impact," and then it's a full circle. And that's how we look about look at it when we get our customers in. We've always focused on the automation piece, but I think personal finance has three big pillars: automation, education, and recommendation. And so, we've always focused on automation for the longest time. Now, we're really trying to drive ourselves into education and recommendation to help really close that loop around, "Okay, we've helped you build the habit, but how do we help you also not make the same mistake again, especially going for the holidays?" And then third, how do we then look at the insights of the transactions or the places you are spending money at to say, "Hey, you could be saving money in other ways." And so, we think that it's a large ecosystem. It takes baby steps, but if we can build the trust of the customer, with their biggest goal, which is typically to become financially free which is paying off debt, then we can help start spurring into these other aspects of their financial journey, which is saving money, which is finding other ways to save through transactions, which is through debit purchases, or maybe utilizing that as an impactful way for creatively saving. So, those are the things that we're looking at.


Maiko Schaffrath  35:49

Great. One last question I have to you, if you think about the future, and let's think 10 years ahead from now, in 10 years' time, how would you like the world to look like if Qoins succeeds. If you succeed as a company, how does the world look like?


Christian Zimmerman  36:09

I think we're in the business of putting ourselves out of business. What I say when I mean by that is that if we've done a good job of helping everyone become debt-free, then we've probably put ourselves out of business, and it's such a big problem and I don't think that'll ever happen, per se. It's such a simple thing that continues to happen, especially as generations start to get older as well. But this idea of, if we're doing hundreds of millions or hundreds of billions of dollars, that's still a tip of the iceberg compared to the trillions of dollars that we know is out there that customers are still dealing with. So, in a perfect world, we're creating that type of impact on our customers' lives and hopefully, helping them also be able to make these other bigger financial decisions such as, say that we're able to help increase the number of homebuyers or help increase the number of overall life savings that people typically have in their savings account, because these are very big statistics. That's almost crazy to think that in an emergency, people don't have the funds to take care of their families, or in the event that they want to buy a home, they just feel like it's such a big step that they almost will never be able to buy a home. So, in a perfect world, we think that these are all things that are very accessible to each and every individual.


Maiko Schaffrath  37:34

Amazing. Thank you, Christian, for sharing your journey, going deep on your personal story and sharing how you're making a difference in the space on helping people pay off debt. I really appreciate your time, and thanks so much for joining today.


Christian Zimmerman  37:50

Thank you. I have one more thing. I just wanted to share, because we obviously are very focused on financial health and financial wealth. We definitely want to continue that focus, and one of the things that we've done was recently launch our republic campaign. It's a crowdfunding campaign. So, really, anyone in the world can invest in Qoins and become a part of that journey. Just $100 minimum, you can become an investor of Qoins, and whether you're a customer or you're not a customer, you can still participate in this long-term journey that we're on, and we'd love to have more and more people supporting the mission that we have.


Maiko Schaffrath  38:31

Amazing. Thanks for mentioning that. For anybody who wants to check that out, check out the Crowdfund campaign on Republic. It's Qoins. Yeah, go ahead.


Christian Zimmerman  38:45

There we go, there we go. Yeah, no, I was going to say republic.com/qoins like you just said.


Maiko Schaffrath  38:53

Amazing. Thanks, Christian. Appreciate your time and see you soon.


Christian Zimmerman  38:58

Thank you, Maiko.


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