Upwardli Raises $2 Million in Series Seed Funding to Help the New to Country Unlock Access to Credit
Upwardli, a financial technology company offering credit building products for consumers new to credit, announced a $2 million Series Seed funding round led by Dundee Venture Capital, with participation from Techstars, J4 Ventures, Cascade Seed Fund, Avesta Fund, Temerity Capital Partners, Service Provider Capital, and notable angel investors.
Nearly 50 million Americans lack a credit score, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a problem that disproportionately impacts those newly arrived to the country and the emerging Gen Z. Without established credit, these consumers are often unable to access basic financial services, from credit cards to car loans.
Upwardli’s founding team of Aaron Gregory and Danielle Hill saw this problem firsthand as early employees at Remitly, the Seattle-based international money transfer company that serves a primarily immigrant customer base.
“The lack of established credit created barriers to accessing needed financial services,” said Aaron Gregory, Upwardli’s co-founder and CEO. “For credit-based products, it’s a total mess. Our credit system creates a chicken-and-egg problem that exacerbates these barriers and penalizes those just starting their financial life.”
According to the company, consumers frequently experience a cycle of painful credit rejections that leaves without a clear path to reach their financial goals. Upwardli aims to change this. “We’re an onramp into the credit mainstream for millions of consumers that are traditionally overlooked and undervalued,” said Gregory.
The company’s next-generation credit building solution enables customers without a social security number or a U.S. credit file to quickly establish and build their U.S. credit score, progressively unlocking access to a range of financial products. Offered in partnership with Cross River Bank and incorporating a suite of banking services, Upwardli’s Credit Builder Plus product launched in November 2022 and is now available at www.upwardli.com.
The company partners with financial institutions to offer its credit building solutions as an alternative to a harsh credit rejection when an applicant fails to qualify due to a lack of credit history. Upwardli helps consumers build their credit into an acceptable range and then passes the customer back to the lending institution, ready for approval.
With this seed funding, Upwardli will hire additional staff, add features to boost credit scores faster, and expand its partnerships with financial institutions to embed its credit builder solutions into their own product experiences. Catherine Williams of Dundee Venture Capital and Danielle Hill, the company’s co-founder and COO, joined the Upwardli Board of Directors, a rare example of a majority female Board in the financial services industry, highlighting the company’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive company culture.
“Upwardli is an excellent example of an innovative fintech company leveraging data and technology to deliver much-needed financial services for underserved populations,” said Catherine Williams, Principal at Dundee Venture Capital. “Their inclusive credit builder product is already unlocking access to credit for creditworthy individuals across the country. Paired with their unique data and product capabilities, Upwardli is poised to deliver innovative credit products to customer segments where existing solutions are unavailable or prohibitively expensive.”
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