Brigit co-founders: Zuben Mathews (left) and Hamel Kothari (right). Image Source: Brigit
Americans have a financial literacy problem. Brigit, a financial management app, hopes to change that.
A 2018 study found that more than 53% of adults in the United States were anxious about their financial situation and the pandemic has only further exacerbated this problem, with unemployment rates reaching record highs and many Americans losing their only income source.
Co-founders Zuben Mathews and Hamel Kothari both struggled with financial stress growing up. As a college student at the University of Chicago in the late 1990’s, Zuben often felt anxious waiting for his paychecks. Being an immigrant without a credit score, he could not apply for credit cards or loans and ended up spending thousands of dollars in overdraft fees. Many nights he ate only a Snickers bar for dinner. Similarly, Kothari grew up in a low-income household in Lowell, Massachusetts, where his family would often live paycheck to paycheck. So when the duo decided to build a company in 2017, they landed on building a personal finance app.
This is how Brigit came into existence. The app collects data on its user’s financial history and prevents overdrafts by sending alerts and notifications to customers when their balance is low. On occasion, the app will transfer up to $250 in a user’s account so that they do not have to pay an overdraft fee. It also provides emergency loans which are delivered in under 90 seconds. The company recently announced that it has helped save more than $250 million for its users since launching its app in 2019.
"We've helped over a million people on the application," said Kelley Furlong, head of people and operations at Brigit, in an interview with The Org. "It's just such a mission that is so easy to connect to because everybody's been there or know someone who has been there."
The Team at Brigit
Since its founding in 2017, the team at Brigit has grown significantly. The company had roughly 20 employees at the beginning of 2020 and now has almost 40 employees that sit across eight functions, including teams in engineering, customer experience, product, design, data/risk, marketing, finance, and people and operations.
The engineering team is the company's largest. Managed primarily by co-founder and CTO Kothari along with and Head of Product Engineering, Shuo Zheng, it currently consists of 15 people. Kothari graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in computer science. Before founding Brigit, Kothari worked as a software engineer in multiple companies, including Palantir Technologies, Bloomberg, and Two Sigma. Zheng is a computer science graduate of Dartmouth College and previously worked as a forward-deployed software engineer for Palantir.
Brigit's customer experience team currently consists of seven employees, making it the second-largest group at the company. They are member-facing, talking to Brigit’s customers regularly, and work closely with all of the teams across the company.
"They're the voice of our member and that's the voice that we want heard in every room," Furlong said.
Product, design and data/risk teams are the smallest in the company, with two members sitting in each. Joshua Herzig-Marx is the interim Head of Product at Brigit. Before joining the company, he founded a retail marketing technology company, Incentive Targeting, which was later sold to Google in 2012, and was the Head of Product for Alyce, an AI-powered personal gifting platform. Now at Brigit, he works closely with Sandra Posternak, a product designer, who graduated Cum Laude from New York University in 2016 and worked as a UX/UI designer and search engine optimization strategist for OSCURO.
The marketing, finance and people and operations teams at Brigit currently consist of three people in each function. This will soon change, as the marketing team will be onboarding four new members over the next month. Brigit's People and Operations team is led by Furlong, who joined the company in August 2020. Previously, she worked at Cadre as People and Talent Partner Lead.
"The coolest point of a company lifecycle is where every hire that you make gets to impact not only your tech and your products and your processes, but your culture," Furlong said. "So your fingerprints can really be all over everything."
Building a Welcoming Virtual Team Culture
"We have some of the best investors in FinTech as well as social impact investing, which really feels like we have the right partners that support who we are holistically," Furlong said.
Although the pandemic has moved Brigit's operations completely remote, the New York City-based company has ambitions to double its number of employees by the end of the year. In recent months, the team has placed heavy emphasis on building a welcoming team culture, new employees will have an opportunity to chat one-on-one with the CEO and are paired up with mentors.
“With the aspiration of being closer to about 80 people by the end of the year, we want to truly be building a company of continuous improvement,” Furlong said. “Based on my experience that the way in which to grow effectively is to also have processes and practices that evolve with your organization.”
The Org is a professional community where transparent companies can show off their team to the world. Join your company here to add yourself to the org chart!