Introducing Petal, Providing Access to Credit to Thin File Consumers

One of the biggest fears about the future of data is that everyone will turn into a number–that algorithms will turn everyone’s personal experience into a single score that will decide whether or not you get what you want, a job, a house, a car, financing for a new business etc. or whether you get shut out.

Actually, you don’t have to wait for that to happen.  Consumers have been living this reality since 1956.  That’s when a company called Fair Issac, or what we now today as FICO, started selling consumer credit data to lenders.  A four billion dollar publicly traded company basically decides who gets credit and who doesn’t–and if you don’t already have credit and you’re invisible to FICO, you’re going to get financially left behind.  As they say, it costs money to make money, and without access to credit at key moments in

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life, you’re going to wind up on the wrong side of the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Just because you’re invisible to FICO doesn’t mean you haven’t been doing anything financially.  You’ve been paying your bills on time, socking some money away for savings–you just never had a credit card or took out a loan.  Maybe you immigrated from another country.  Either way, this shouldn’t stop you from being able to get credit when you need it.

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That’s what I believe and that’s what Petal believes as wellBrooklyn Bridge Ventures led their seed round last winter.  

Petal is a simple, no fee credit card that looks at the money you make and the bills you already pay to help you qualify instantly. That means you can get a great credit card and start building your credit history, even if Petal is your first credit card.  You can sign up to be one of their first customers here.  

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It’s not only about building up a score–it’s about learning how and where to use credit appropriately.  Petal provides transparency to consumers through their technology to help them make smart credit decisions.  What card do you know tells you how much you’ll pay in interest *next month* based on what you pay now?

I first got introduced to them by my friend Kevin Marshall back in March of 2016 when they were Creditbridge (Petal is to Creditbridge what Frogger is to Highway Crossing Frog, I suppose).  He sent me a pitch and I didn’t quite understand the issue, so I passed.  Undeterred, they kept plugging away, working on the brand and the message.  They got mentioned to me again by Nan Li at Obvious as an interesting team he had just met.  When you start to hear of a team multiple times from multiple people (which is the same thing that happened to me with Canary and The Wing), you take notice.  I don’t mind cold intros, but market buzz helps push things over the line to at least take a meeting.  

In our first meeting, which was theoretically scheduled for 45 minutes, I sat down with co-founders Jason and David for more than two hours.  What sold me was their fluency in this market.  It was obvious that they had spent most of the year becoming the smartest possible founders they could in their space–and talking to every founder who had done anything adjacent.  That’s important for a VC.  You don’t want to be able to be smarter than your founder about a pitch after an hour of Googling around.  

In the last ten months since I’ve invested, I’ve seen them execute in the most organized and professional way possible–it’s not easy to stand up a consumer credit card company from scratch.  They’ve gained the attention of large players in the space and attracted some high quality talent to their team.  

As we saw with the Equifax breach just yesterday, the monolithic world of centralized control over your financial life is being disrupted more and more each day.  New consumer friendly brands are being created and new products are coming to market.  It’s a dynamic space and I’m excited to have gotten the opportunity to back Jason, Andrew, David, Jack and Berk and the rest of the team in their mission to bring credit and financial opportunity to underserved “thin file” consumers.