Tomas Campos and Tushar Vaish co-founded Spinwheel in 2019 after Campos saw how student loan debt was affecting his sister, who graduated from college over a decade ago, and his niece, who graduated in 2019.
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“When she graduated, we thought it was an awesome milestone, but she was distraught over how she would pay her student loan debt,” Campos told Crunchbase News. “My sister, who worked for the government, was rejected for student loan forgiveness and had to take all of her savings and put it toward the student debt. She had been saving for a house.”
It’s that financial shock that Spinwheel is trying to help people avoid. It secured $11 million in its first round of financing to enable Americans to get out of debt sooner by providing an application programming interface to embed loan management tools into the apps people use the most.
Arjan Schütte, founder and managing partner of Core Innovation Capital, said his firm invests in fintech companies and was particularly interested in student debt.
After looking at more than 100 apps in this space, Core formed a hypothesis that there needed to be a student loan debt payment-as-a-service. They found that in Spinwheel, he said.
“If you are just doing it directly you are not going to get traction, but if you build it into existing channels, such as banks, grocery store points or airline points, there will be more success,” Schütte added. “Financial services are complicated, and Tomas and Tushar have an extraordinary motive for getting up in the morning. We were moved by what we felt was an authentic story and reason to chip away at student debt.”
Spinwheel is starting with student loan debt, where the Federal Reserve estimates $1.7 trillion in U.S. student loan debt is owed. Students, on average, graduate with $29,000 of private and federal loan debt and default on their loans at a rate of 15 percent.
The new funding will go toward scaling the company’s product roadmap and doubling its team of six in the next six months. It will also enable the company to quickly expand to other debt categories, such as credit card, auto and mortgage, over the next 12 months, Campos said.
“We see ourselves as the modern API infrastructure to help Americans understand, manage and pay their debt,” he said. “We want to start on student debt with people and grow with them as they make big purchases throughout their lives.”
Its clients include loan service providers, employee benefits, points and cash-back providers, as well as fintechs and banks looking to add these tools to their tech stack. Clients are able to drop in Spinwheel’s low-code or no-code API and be up and running in under an hour.
Although there are a number of fintech startups addressing the student loan space, Campos believes Spinwheel’s differentiator is its holistic approach to the entire sector rather than focusing on one aspect, such as point solutions, payments or data.
“We have found pent-up demand in the market, especially because dealing with student loan data is the most complex part,” Campos added. “When we thought about use cases, we knew we needed to bring all of those together. Our approach is to provide data and insights and the payments in one integration.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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