PitchIt Podcast #11: Char Saintilus of Stubenefits – Lend Academy

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In episode eleven of PitchIt: the fintech startups podcast we talk with Stubenefits Founder & CEO Char Saintilus.

Stubenefits offers student loan benefit and repayment solutions for employers, employees, consumers and more. Student debt is one of the hottest topics today, and companies all across the fintech spectrum are looking to develop solutions to ease this burden.

Offering the solution as an employment benefit is beneficial to both the employer and employee, this type of thinking is exactly what we need to solve the student debt problem. Char and I discuss the benefits of offering this solution, the overall student debt problem, financial wellness and a whole lot more. We had a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy the show.

PITCHIT FINTECH STARTUPS PODCAST NO. 11–CHAR SAINTILUS

 

Welcome to PitchIt, the fintech startups podcast, one founder, one startup, one investor at a time. I’m your host, Todd Anderson, Chief Product Officer, LendIt Fintech.

 

(music)

 

Todd Anderson: On Episode 11, we talk with Char Saintilus of Stubenefits. Stubenefits are for student loan benefit and repayment solutions for employers, employees, consumers and more. Student debt is one of the hottest topics, not only in fintech, but in broader society today and companies all across the fintech ecosystem are looking for ways to ease this burden on graduates and offering a solution as an employment benefit is not only beneficial to the employee but also the employer and this type of thinking is exactly what’s needed to help solve the student debt problem. Char and I discuss the benefits of offering the solution, the overall student debt problem and potential solutions surrounding that, financial wellness and a whole lot more We had a lot of fun and we hope you all enjoy the show.

 

(music)

 

Welcome to the podcast, Char, how are you?

 

Char Saintilus: Good morning, Todd, thanks for having me.

 

Todd: Of course. You know, I like to start off these episodes with a little background so if you can, go ahead and tell the audience a little bit about yourself, where you were professionally before you started Stubenefits, you know, introduce yourself to the audience.

 

Char: Excellent. Well, thanks again for having me. So, I’m Char Saintilus, Founder of Stubenefits. My background is actually in Software Engineering though I’m one of those lucky technical founders, but before kind of venturing out into the workforce studied at Florida State University, I got a degree in Computational Biology and another one in Bio Math, Bio Mathematics. None of those things are really related to what I’m doing today, but it’s been a fun journey. My Computational Biology degree gave me an opportunity to work in technology software engineer, that’s been great. Spent some time at Capital One and a few other organizations. I’ve since ventured out to start Stubenefits.

 

Todd: How did you come to the idea of Stubenefits? I know when we were talking the other day you said it did have a personal connection to you like a lot of founders I’ve talked to so tell the audience a little bit about why you thought of the Stubenefits idea and why launch when you did.

 

Char: Yeah, so that’s a great question. I think it probably started when I was still in college, at least my venture into entrepreneurship, but Stubenefits as an idea is more recent although my inspiration for starting it is that it has personal impact. I have student loans as 45 million other Americans do and so it was in some ways trying to solve my own problem. So, I was working at my company, it offered great benefits, but helping me pay down my student debt was not one of those benefits and so I saw an opportunity there in that sense.

 

But to back up a little bit, I finished at Florida State in 2014, but before then, I started a consulting company helping small businesses and startups with, you know, their launch and sales processes. That business eventually fizzled out and failed, but it taught me a really important lesson, one I could have learned from a book, but taught me the distinction between a scalable business and a non-scalable business. Consulting is a not a scalable business and so I was looking for ways to start another company that would scale so I started another startup that was intended to match companies with my own consultants.

 

That business also eventually went away, but since then people like to say that since this event I never looked back, but I’ve been doing anything but like I’ve been looking back ever since, but this time I wanted to do something that would have both impact, would be financially viable, scalable, etc. and with the rising cost of tuition across the country, rising level of the student debt…we’re talking 100% increases here, I saw there a real opportunity to help people and the number of people who suffered today with excrutiating level of student debt, staggering 45 million or more than $1.7 Trillion, not hundreds of billions, but $1.7 Trillion, it’s an amount I cannot even fathom and so we saw an opportunity that can help the everyday person who may be having issues with student loan.

 

Todd: What exactly does Stubenefits offer? I know when we caught up the other day, it’s kind of the three main things that you guys do, so tell us a little bit about exactly what you guys offer.

 

Char: So, at a high level, we are a personal finance platform, Stubenefits is, and we do three key things. In general, we are building solutions in order to tackle the student debt crisis and more, but today, we do three things. First, we enable employers to provide a student loan payment benefit to their employees so that means that companies who want to help employees pay down their student debt can coordinate with Stubenefits and we manage that process end-to-end. We help them define and establish and manage a new benefit program where they are making regular contributions to the employee. We process that end-to-end taking in contributions and then making payouts to loan servicing companies based on the employees who have been contributed to so that’s what we’re doing it for employers.

 

There are different reasons why an employer might do this, for one, there is a recruiting edge. You know, imagine two identical job offers, one offers to pay down your student debt, $5,000 a year and the other doesn’t, right. Studies have shown that you are more likely to accept the offer with that benefit, there’s a retention edge as well. I imagine, if you work for a company that helps pay your student loans, that’s the company you want to stay at, right, more likely want to stay at than leave. It really helps the employer to kind of entendre the kind of culture that they want, the positive work culture where people feel like their employer cares and the employer generally is thinking about them and wants to help them. So, that’s all on the first part for the student loan benefit.

 

Todd: Just a quick question on that part. Are most employers doing either or right now and when I mention either or, are they giving the student loan pay down option or a 401 (k) option. I’m assuming some might do both, but for the most part, is it kind of an either or right now where we are today?

 

Char: Yes, that’s an excellent question. So, it’s not an either or. Today, there are some employers, I think they’re more the exception than is the case who are being really creative and trying to find ways to save money in offering one or the other or finding a hybrid solution than incorporates, the 401 (k) Match as a student loan payment, but that’s more of the exception than is the case because the process for setting one of those up is a little more involved, working with an administrator and maybe get the IRS involved, etc.

 

You know, most employers who do offer student loan benefit are offering both. At the end of the day, it’s who you work with, it’s really a customized process. Some employers are saying, hey, we’re going to give you $4,000 at the end of each year, some are saying we’re going to give you $100 every pay check, some are saying, hey, we’ll give you $200 for the lifetime of your employment here. Another is saying, hey, we’re going to cap it out, $15,000, we’ll give you $100 every pay check, but once you reach $15,000 it’s done and the law doesn’t prescribe any of that, that’s up to the employer.

 

Regarding the second thing that we do, that…

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