An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Steve Jarvis (founder and CEO) of CredHub, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of CredHub – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
CredHub was a pioneer of rental credit reporting, launching shortly after FICO began accepting a lease as a debt obligation that impacts a credit score. At the time, I was leaving Expedia with a personal mantra of “learning and giving”. After a career in travel innovation, I had a desire to bring that experience to a new market. I also had a need to be directly connected to making lives better. The CredHub idea allowed me to achieve both.
A large share of our population rents, and that payment is an enormous share of household income. Many renters have low credit scores or are “credit invisible” (no credit at all). Additionally, property managers and landlords have not had the tools that other creditors have (e.g. car loans, mortgage, credit cards) to incentivize on-time payment. CredHub as born of a desire and opportunity to help them all.
Before CredHub, both of my sons fell into the credit invisible category. The CredHub mission is “to empower our community to build a better financial future”. Executing on that mission with my teammates has been a tremendous journey.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
As our service was new when we launched CredHub, our market was “problem aware” but not “solution aware”. Prospects had all the problems we solve: high payment delinquency, quality tenant retention, thin margins. However, they didn’t equate credit reporting as a solution for each of these problems. Selling business-to-business can be tough. When the prospects also need education about the general service offering, it is even tougher. As one of the pioneers of the service, we leaped this hurdle in the early years.
What does the future hold for CredHub?
Most important for CredHub right now is to be focused on delivering world class service for our clients and growing our customer base efficiently. We deliver the best and most complete rental reporting in the market and it is my job to ensure we deliver every day with clarity, alignment, and passion. As we grow our customer base, there are additional services we can deliver for our residents, and adjacent markets for us to open. Right now, it is all about focus and execution.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Spokane?
The CredHub founders grew up in the Seattle tech scene. Chris and I spent three decades apiece in that community. The Spokane startup scene feels more vibrant, excited, and hungry right now. My sense is there is pride and camaraderie in the local community for tech startup. Getting to know innovators like Tom Simpson and the folks at Ignite, learning about the Spokane Angel Alliance, and interacting with the local press and investment community has shown me that this region has an awesome future in tech.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Simplify your product or service option and be laser focused on delivering it. It is easy to get distracted by new service features or variations, different revenue models, and adjacent verticals. Your most valuable asset is time, lack of focus can demoralize your team, and cash efficiency is paramount. Those distractions negatively impact all three. Also, don’t listen to the extreme highs and lows. There will be times when you feel you’ll conquer the world and go out of business, all in the same day. Steady, calm, and confident is what your team needs from you.