Business

Meet The Chinese-American Who Made $500 Million For His Startup Last Year

Kenneth Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma, has announced that the personal finance company increased revenues by about 50% to $500 million last year.

It was 2007 when Lin started Credit Karma as a means of helping people make financial progress. Five years later, the company launched its flagship product, a free credit report and credit monitoring service, which apparently set the stage for its current profitability.

So how exactly did Lin make it?

The answer lies in Credit Karma’s financial models that work their way with data.

The company collects information from users and returns them recommended financial products based on their credit score, TechCrunch said. In addition, these products are tailored to their personal objectives, which could be transferring balances to cards with lower rates, collecting points or getting cash back on purchases.

Credit Karma then passes users to companies offering the products, making money through qualified referrals. A new credit card customer, for instance, could be worth up to $700.

The company’s success can be traced back to Lin’s financial acumen, which developed from an early age. Born in Guangzhou, China, he immigrated to the US at the age of 4, landing in 80s Las Vegas.

“They were always starting something,” he told Fast Company about his parents, who worked long hours. “I saw that growing up and I think in many ways it really influenced me.”

Upon graduating from Boston University, he took a day job but also entertained business ideas. He sold computer parts and opened an internet cafe in the past.

Credit Karma then came, which by far appears to be his most successful venture. On top of the technical side of things, perhaps his sincere motivation in doing business explains the company’s success to date:

“There are a lot of families struggling to make ends meet. To the extent that we can help save $50 or $100–a month, a week, a year–that’s valuable. And we can make a business out of it, which is great. It’s hard to do both.”

Credit Karma, now available in all 50 states in the US, currently employs about 700 people and has recently opened offices in Los Angeles and North Carolina. The company also launched in Canada last year.


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