NBA’s Curry-backed Kikoff launches out of stealth with $42m to build credit for millennials and GenZ

Kikoff launches out of stealth with $42.5m total funding to help consumers build or rebuild credit and boost the expansion of a complete financial ecosystem for Millennials and GenZ.

The company recently secured a Series B round for $30m led by Portage Ventures. Its Series A was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and joined by GGV, Coatue, and Core Innovation Capital. Kikoff is also backed by investors including basketball star Stephen Curry, Wex CEO Melissa Smith and former CFO of the US Department of the Treasury, Teresa Ressel.

The company will be using some of the newly raised funds to build out its technology and its team, across all function areas, to bring new products to market. Kikoff plans to build an entire financial ecosystem that will help users do things like build savings and get mortgages.

Founded in 2019 by Christophe Chong and Cynthia Chen, Kikoff is a personal finance platform that offers a credit-building solution. Its platform lets the users demonstrate their creditworthiness without the need for a bank account, credit card, or credit score and offers loans to kick off payment history to start building credit.

Kikoff’s core product, Kikoff Credit Account, allows customers to build a credit history from scratch or to improve an existing one. Driven by the co-founders’ and team’s personal experiences, Kikoff’s mission is to provide fair, effective and simple pathways to meet one’s financial goals. Headquartered in San Francisco, the startup is a licensed lender and uses bank-level encryption to protect customer data. Having an instant approval process, it enables customers to establish credit history within 30 days.

Customers can apply for a $500 revolving line of credit which helps to build credit history much like a credit card, allowing purchases at Kikoff’s online store.

Kikoff’s team includes executives well versed in consumer credit and financial technology. Chen’s deep financial experience includes serving as Figure’s Chief Risk Officer and senior executive roles at Capital One and OnDeck. Co-founder and CTO Christophe Chong was former Head of Growth at Lime and served at Facebook and Square. Kikoff’s broader executive team brings leadership experience from Credit Karma, Square, Plaid and Deserve.

Chen said, “There are many Americans who don’t come from affluent families and have tons of student loan debt. For them and so many others, we wanted to create a better way to build good credit than existing offers in the market. We’re gratified to be able to introduce this foundational tool that can help put customers on a path to financial health.”

As many as 45 million Americans are unable to access mainstream credit products according to the Consumer Financial Protection Board. And for those who have credit, many struggle with their credit scores.

Lightspeed partner Ansaf Kareem said, “Establishing and building credit are the keys to accessing the financial system in the US, yet the on-ramps are completely broken for millions of Americans. Kikoff is solving a critical problem for consumers in the early part of their financial journey. We’re excited to continue partnering with them as they grow the platform and offer more innovative products that enable better introductions to the financial system and help people reach their financial goals.”

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