Hello, dear listeners! Welcome to another transformative episode of Founder Hustle, hosted by Melissa Bradley, where we celebrate the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurship. In today’s new episode, she’s joined by the insightful Kiley Summers, Co-Founder of Spendebt. Tune in as we explore how Kiley and his wife Talisha are using FinTech to break generational curses by empowering families with financial knowledge. Through their platform, Spendebt, they are redefining the way we approach debt and wealth-building. Join us to discover Kiley’s remarkable journey from corporate engineer to fintech disruptor. Gain insights into his unique perspective on entrepreneurship, family, and making a lasting impact. Prepare to be inspired as we delve into Kiley’s mission to leave a legacy of financial empowerment.
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0:00:04.8 Melissa Bradley: From new Majority Ventures and Kinetic Energy Entertainment, this is Founder Hustle.
0:00:10.2 Kiley Summers: One. We are men. And it’s like, I gotta stand tall. I gotta be proud. I can’t be vulnerable. All of this is about vulnerability.
0:00:19.1 MB: Absolutely. Yeah.
0:00:20.0 KS: Right? The moment you think you are too big, you will fall.
0:00:23.4 MB: Welcome to Founder Hustle, a podcast series by, for and about the New Majority Entrepreneur. I’m your host, Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of New Majority Ventures, the Road from founder to CEO, can be both hard and rewarding. So in each episode of Founder Hustle, I interview a new majority entrepreneur to find out what their journey really looks like. As a CEO founder, professor, and general partner of a venture fund, I know how valuable good information and resources are for the new majority through shared tools, strategies, and life lessons. We are here to enlighten, uplift and educate anyone interested in this entrepreneurial ecosystem so that you too can go from founder to CEO.
0:01:16.2 MB: In the world of FinTech, Kiley and his wife remind us that money is a tool for leaving a legacy. SpenDebt is a platform to help families become debt free. Kiley is a family man committed to making generations wealthier. He was the first entrepreneur to make me cry as I learned of his story, to be a founder, husband, man of faith and Girl Dad. I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did.[music]
0:01:45.1 MB: I am here with Kiley Summers of SpenDebt. Now for you, this is special, ’cause so far I’ve been running these accelerator programs for six years. You were the first entrepreneur to make me cry. When you stood up there and talked about how and what this meant to you, and we don’t wanna go back there, but you said something so poignant in terms of why you were in this wacky, crazy world of entrepreneurship. Can you share that again?
0:02:13.8 KS: I can. And, it’s crazy that you asked this question in the state of the country based on what happened in Memphis.
0:02:25.4 MB: That’s right.
0:02:26.1 KS: One, I, my wife and I started this, because we became debt free. First generation, we come from humble beginnings, single parent homes. And we had the opportunity of our parents passing the baton to us, to set us, our lives in a better place. And so we graduated, but a year after we graduated, we found ourselves in over 140 plus thousand dollars of consumer debt. So, at that moment, obviously it’s a reflection of how we grew up, and us being in a position to change the trajectory of our lives and our children’s lives now. And so fast forward we became debt free. But a part of that is, before my late father passed away, he used to say to us all the time, when I die I want all generational curses to die with me. Meaning, that’s for us to establish generational blessings…
0:03:21.7 MB: Wow. Sure.
0:03:22.1 KS: For the family and for the sake of our name or his name. And we took that, and as a Black man in this country, to be able to have the opportunity to lead a financial technology company, through the pain and the journey I experienced as a person…
0:03:46.6 MB: Yep.
0:03:46.9 KS: Becoming debt free, wanting the right and the opportunity, to be financially free and have that financial freedom, independence, we wanna help other people. So in the culmination to answer the question is that’s why I started. And there is so many other inputs to that, but directly that those are the reasons, and it’s just not me, it’s me and my wife.
0:04:08.9 MB: Yep.
0:04:09.1 KS: Yeah. You definitely gotta give credit where credit is due.
0:04:13.0 MB: That’s right.
0:04:13.2 KS: To get us to this point. So…
0:04:14.4 MB: Yeah.
0:04:14.6 KS: Yeah.
0:04:15.1 MB: So what is SpenDebt?
0:04:16.8 KS: So, SpenDebt is a financial technology company. It’s operated using an app or you can get to us on the url it’s @spendebt.com. But it is a financial technology company helping people pay off debt every time they swipe their debit card or have a banking transaction. And just recently we launched our business to business Go to market strategy, helping companies use our Micropayment solution to recover payments from their end users. Leveraging all micro payments, through their everyday transaction.
0:04:46.9 MB: Wow.
0:04:47.2 KS: And so it’s really a tool that it’s really mindless. It’s just three easy steps to sign up, but it allows people to pay off their debt, as they spend.
0:05:00.2 MB: So I’d love for you talk about the origins of SpenDebt and what it was like to what it is today?
0:05:04.8 KS: SpenDebt Evolution is, it was a unique process. The idea came as to… Was to help people spend money and pay off debt, right? We knew how a Bank of America keep the Change program, which was a spend and save program. Acorns was just getting started, and that’s a spend and invest platform, but there was this third category that wasn’t there, and that was a spend and pay category, and we wanted to stand that up. And so the whole idea of SpenDebt was really in the beginning, was really focused to help people pay off student loan debt.
0:05:38.3 MB: Amen.
0:05:38.5 KS: That was the first market, because it obviously, it’s still one of the most critical topics today.
0:05:42.2 MB: That’s right.
0:05:43.6 KS: To help people spend money and pay off their student loan debt. And the premise behind it has never changed, right? We didn’t wanna use Roundups. We wanted to allow the customer to have control on defining what that micro-payment is to be added to every transaction that they have. So that was the basis. The market has evolved. We start started off with student loans.
0:06:08.9 KS: Then we went to… They asked us to… Customers asked us to do credit card debt. And then by the end of our first year in 2018 in the market, they wanted us to pay all consumer debts. And so we unlocked it to pay all consumer debts. And most recently now, we’ve taken our micro-payment solution and now positioned it to be a new payment solution. The premise of spend-and-pay-off-debt has always remained from the moment God gave me the idea. But we’ve seen the market evolve to help people pay, from student loans to student loans, to credit cards, to all consumer debts, and now position it to help companies recover accounts receivables and to improve their cash flow.
0:06:53.0 MB: It’s funny ’cause most entrepreneurs never wanna talk about finance.
0:06:56.7 KS: Yeah. [chuckle]
0:06:57.7 MB: We say, “Let’s do those statements.” They’re like, “We don’t really wanna see that.” Talk a little about, what is your psychology around money? Because I would say most people, but certainly people of color or Black people, we grew up with a few sayings. We grew up with, “You gotta be 150% better than everybody else.” And then I grew up with, “You got champagne taste and beer pockets.” How do you… But then you grow up with that, and you’re like, “What do I do when I even have a little bit of money?” You’re overwhelmed in terms of because you still owe… If you’re coming out… If you had the privilege to go to school. How do you tell people to wrap their heads around that?
0:07:33.9 KS: Man, you got these loaded questions. [laughter]
0:07:36.1 MB: Well, ’cause you did it. And one of them is already patience. But in a capital society, getting grasp and feeling comfortable with money is hard.
0:07:45.8 KS: It’s we had… One, we had a lot of pram mothers and grandmothers.
0:07:48.5 MB: Okay. There you go.
0:07:49.7 KS: And it starts with that. But more important, it’s not thinking about the now it’s thinking about tomorrow or the future and understanding where you’ve come from.
0:08:01.5 MB: Gotcha.
0:08:02.5 KS: Because money is a tool. Money is a tool. That’s all it is. It’s, obviously, to have a transaction. How I think about money is what do I… The legacy that I want to leave. I could spend it… I could spend everything now on me, and that’s it. Then I gotta… And I would know that my kids are gonna go through the same struggle. But how do I leverage it to position our family to be in a better situation? And that’s how I personally, or we personally, think about money. It’s using it to position us into a better society…
0:08:39.5 MB: Gotcha.
0:08:39.8 KS: As a family. And if we could do that, do our part, then our kids are gonna have a better opportunity in life. And whether it’s starting their own business, whether it’s going to some of the best schools across the world, or just having access to go acquire assets, these are the opportunities that I believe that we should have. And it starts with the mindset. And that’s how I think about money. And we are trying to do our best to execute on that level so we can acquire the things that position our kids to have a better future.
0:09:16.7 MB: Tell me about your family.
0:09:19.1 KS: I have the best family in the world.
0:09:21.1 MB: You definitely have the best wife. You have one of the best wives I know after mine.
0:09:22.1 KS: Man.
0:09:23.7 MB: You got a great wife. [laughter] She’s wonderful.
0:09:25.5 KS: Talisha Summers is my co-founder, my life partner, my backbone. Then we have two beautiful girls. I’m a girl dad, for sure. My oldest, her name is Elle. She’s a little brainiac. She love words. She’s killing it, 7-years-old, in the second grade. Yeah. The pandemic really helped us just accelerate her learning. And then Iris is our 1-year-old going on 2. She’ll be 2 in April. And she’s just… She knows how to establish her presence, and she knows how to get attention. She knows how to get things done.
0:10:06.5 MB: That’s Talisha.
0:10:08.7 KS: All day long.
0:10:08.8 MB: That’s Talisha. Yes.
0:10:08.9 KS: All day. All day long. And so a beautiful family. And I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I tell people this: “I hit the lottery when it comes to my wife and my girls.”
0:10:18.4 MB: I love that.
0:10:19.1 KS: Yeah.
0:10:19.6 MB: Yay.
0:10:20.1 KS: Yeah.
0:10:21.0 MB: Are you doing the business full-time?
0:10:22.4 KS: I am doing the business full-time.
0:10:23.6 MB: Talk about that journey, ’cause that’s a big step.
0:10:25.5 KS: Ah, whew. People always ask, “When did you quit your job? How did you quit your job?” Formerly, I’m an engineer. And I worked at PepsiCo/Frito-Lay for almost 10 years before I lost my dad, I had this whole life-changing moment, and I wanted to figure out what to do next. I coulda stayed an engineer. I was doing good. I was on my second mid-level manager role. I had just finished a corporate startup. But I was ready to go do something different. And it was 2015. I’ll never forget. And I told my wife my… We lost my dad in August of 2014. I Told my wife, “Year of 2015 is gonna be a year of faith.” I didn’t know what that meant. She didn’t know what that meant. But I just declared at the top of that year. March of that year, I went to my wife. And I said, “Babe, I’m ready to go do something different.” And before I can say anything, she was like, “Quit your job.”
0:11:24.9 MB: Wow.
0:11:25.7 KS: She’s like, “Quit.” I’m like, “Quit? I just can’t quit.”
0:11:28.3 MB: Nobody’s wife usually says, “Quit. Just quit. Just quit.”
0:11:30.6 KS: And she was pregnant. Mind you, we had just found out she was pregnant with Elle at the time. So A Black woman telling they…
0:11:35.7 MB: Right, with a baby on the way? Right.
0:11:37.1 KS: It don’t happen.
0:11:37.9 MB: No.
0:11:38.6 KS: And I was like…
0:11:39.5 MB: You’re a blessed mofo, let me just say. [laughter]
0:11:40.1 KS: Ooh, come on. Say that. Say that. And so I took it in, Melissa. And then it took me two months to develop enough courage to then quit, to put my two-weeks in. And at that point, I didn’t really know what we was gonna do. We was on this… Obviously, we was on a trajectory to become debt-free. So We kinda saw the writing on the wall. And when I quit, I said, “You know what? I’m gonna start an in-home healthcare business. I wanna take care of families like we got to take care of my dad in his 30 days before he died. I want families to feel the same way that I felt everyday going home from the hospital.” And that became kind of the mission after I quit. I went on this journey to become this home healthcare owner. But that same time, God planted SpenDebt in my head. And when SpenDebt first came to me, I ignored it. I wanted to go to Sarasota, Florida to go learn about this whole healthcare stuff. Came back, went to the Urban League in Houston, and I saw entrepreneurship being taught. And I was like, “Hey, I’m going to position this to learn about this healthcare business, but I’mma build this thing called SpenDebt.” And I didn’t know what it was at the time. [laughter] But I…
0:12:56.2 MB: But you had the name.
0:12:57.7 KS: Well I did have nothing but this journey from May until August of the year, it was all about this healthcare. And then SpenDebt came and I was like, I’m gonna build this at the same time. And so I started just putting together the one page document, the one page business plan as my secondary business. I remember calling out to Silicon Valley, I was like, Hey, I’m trying to build an app. How much is it gonna cost? I didn’t know who to…
0:13:26.6 MB: All you entrepreneurs picking up the phone, like, yeah. Somebody gonna answer on the other side.
0:13:30.7 KS: So I called out to Silicon Valley, dude was like, it’s gonna be $600,000 to build an app. I said, is that for two or is that for one? He said, that’s just for one. I said, well, I got the wrong number [chuckle] because I ain’t got that type of cash and but he was like what are you trying to build? And I told him, he’s like, man, you got an excellent idea. At the time. He was like, you got some intellectual property. I didn’t know what the heck that meant. Wow. And anyway, I hung up the phone and just kind of continued to pursue SpenDebt but December of that year, obviously we had Elle so at the top of 2016, I became now entrepreneur and a father.
0:14:03.3 MB: That’s right.
0:14:04.1 KS: Stay at home. And so the journey got real because now you’re trying to build a business and manage kids. Now, mind you, the baby in the first few months just eat, poop and sleep right?
0:14:16.3 MB: That’s it. And so that’s it.
0:14:17.8 KS: But then they become very active.
0:14:19.5 KS: That’s right.
0:14:19.7 KS: And so.
0:14:20.3 MB: They wanna stand up, see what you’re doing.
0:14:24.1 KS: All of that.
0:14:24.2 MB: They wanna be close to you.
0:14:24.3 KS: All of that. Yeah. And so, fast forward the journey of being a stay at home father, an entrepreneur is probably the best job anybody could ask for. I got the chance to have my daughter there with me, and she got the chance to be at the table when I’m having conversations with bankers, when I’m having conversations with dignitaries, she was right there and to me, that is an opportunity that I could never, ever pass up on.
0:14:52.6 MB: Absolutely.
0:14:52.8 KS: And she remembers that. She knows how to pitch the business. She knows everybody.
0:14:58.3 MB: Love it.
0:15:00.4 KS: And so as time went on, when we didn’t show up with her, they would ask, Hey, where’s Elle? Right? And so…
0:15:03.1 MB: We ain’t doing business without Elle. [laughter]
0:15:06.2 KS: So from that perspective, Melissa, that journey has been very rewarding. So your kids can see you do your job or the work that you do. I’ll make this point and I’ll be quiet.
0:15:19.6 MB: No, no.
0:15:20.4 KS: Mark Zuckerberg dad was a dentist. Mark Zuckerberg dad was trying to figure out how to build a network, as a part of his dentist practice. And Mark Zuckerberg was a witness to his dad being a dentist in the business he built the network in which his dad and other dentists used because he was there.
0:15:50.7 MB: Right. And he saw the challenge.
0:15:52.5 KS: He saw the challenges he was hearing the information. It’s about the things that you hear and they say faith come by hearing. And so by kids being in the room, just by hearing.
0:16:02.4 MB: They know.
0:16:03.1 KS: They know. And so just being a witness to that, I know my daughter, our daughters will be in a better position that we were. So that’s the journey. It has been very rewarding.
0:16:15.3 MB: I love it. I wanna double click on that for a second because I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs who have kids and they’re going, how do I do both? And I’m not sure they would even think about, let me bring them with me. So for them, what was going through your mind? Were you like, this could go either really, really well or really really badly, or was just like, Nope, it is what it is. Like this is who I am?
0:16:38.8 KS: In the beginning it was challenging. Man, I don’t know if I should take them in but it’s like, this is who I am.
0:16:45.0 MB: Right.
0:16:46.4 KS: Either they’re gonna accept me for who I am and who we are or not. And at that point, I know if I wanna do business with them. And so we showed up as a father and daughter as a family. But I think it’s, the homework there though is is prepping the kids and I don’t care what age they are from a newborn to a toddler.
0:17:07.4 MB: This is not playtime.
0:17:08.7 KS: It’s not play time and you tell them, Hey, daddy has a meeting. We are going to meet such and such at such and such time. I need you to be on your best behavior right? It’s again, faith comes by hearing. It’s about every moment it’s a teaching moment. And so when we get there, you kinda give them that look like, okay. Here’s your iPad.
0:17:28.0 MB: Does it the look?
0:17:28.8 KS: That’s the look. It’s the look.
0:17:30.2 MB: Stay over there.
0:17:31.5 KS: And so you know, what I did is I used to make sure that they were fed.
0:17:34.5 MB: Gotcha.
0:17:34.8 KS: They were changed. They had the iPad and they had a little snack. They bottle whatever it is. And they was content.
0:17:40.4 MB: I love that.
0:17:40.9 KS: And I got about an hour. I got a good strong hour.
0:17:43.0 MB: You gotta stay on time. You gotta say on time.
0:17:45.2 KS: And then it is gonna change. So it was setting the expectation. People rise to expectation. If you don’t set them.
0:17:52.2 MB: They don’t know what to do. They can’t rise.
0:17:53.8 KS: They can’t rise.
0:17:55.5 MB: I love that.
0:17:55.6 KS: And so that’s been the thing I did with Elle my oldest, and now I’m doing it with Iris.
0:18:00.3 MB: So what’s the vision? Where do you want SpenDebt to be in the next few years?
0:18:03.3 KS: You know, we want SpenDebt and we’re working on it in the present. We want SpenDebt to be the new micro payment solution to help companies recover a payment. So nothing more than a payment solution. Now, if you look at the landscape of payments today, traditionally you can pay by phone, credit debit card, ACH payment, mail in a check or cash. Those are the traditional payment solution.
0:18:28.2 MB: I’m smiling ’cause I’m like, people still take mailing, huh? Okay. I guess they do. I guess they do.
0:18:31.2 KS: Yeah They do, they do. But then you have the shared economy. You have the PayPals of the world. The whole roundup thing has took the world by storm but then as SpenDebt. What we do is we allow the end-user or the customer to pay every day. So if whether you are the utility company, you’re the healthcare, medical, the hospital, the financial institution, the banks, what if you can recover payments from your customers every day through their everyday transactions.
0:19:02.0 MB: Wow.
0:19:02.2 KS: That you now become… You have the ability to predict your cash flow, because you know, you have the money not guessing, at the end of the 30 or 60 or 90 days, is that customer gonna send that payment? We do that for you and we facilitate all of that. So we want SpenDebt to be stood up as a permanent payment…
0:19:22.2 MB: Gotcha.
0:19:22.8 KS: Solution.
0:19:22.8 MB: So it’s like a new platform in this space. ‘Cause you’ve got two customers. You’ve got me if I’m the person that owes, and then you’ve got companies.
0:19:30.0 KS: That’s correct.
0:19:31.0 MB: I would like to believe that companies were excited to see you.
0:19:35.4 KS: They are.
0:19:36.0 MB: Okay.
0:19:36.2 KS: But like anything else, anything that’s new is like, huh, does this really work? And so the B2C model proved that it worked.
0:19:43.4 MB: Okay.
0:19:44.2 KS: In 2022, we had customers in one month pay $530.
0:19:50.3 MB: Wow.
0:19:52.1 KS: Just through the everyday transaction. We have customers pay over $5000 in one year.
0:19:57.5 MB: Wow. That’s a lot.
0:19:58.9 KS: It’s a lot. We average $2.64 cents per transaction… Excuse me, $2.54 cents per transaction.
0:20:07.8 MB: Wow.
0:20:09.2 KS: So it is working.
0:20:11.6 MB: Right. So it’s not a lot…
0:20:12.4 KS: It’s evident.
0:20:12.8 MB: If I’m the person that owes, but you’re telling me that could add up to several hundred dollars a month. That’s my payment for the month.
0:20:19.2 KS: That’s correct.
0:20:20.0 MB: You get to the end of the month, you’re like, “Oh, shoot, here come the first.”
0:20:22.5 KS: Yeah.
0:20:22.9 MB: Tomorrow’s the first. What do I got left?
0:20:26.9 KS: What do I have left?
0:20:27.7 MB: Yeah.
0:20:27.9 KS: And so now what if you don’t have anything left?
0:20:29.8 MB: But now you can say every day, what do I have left?
0:20:31.8 KS: See what I’m saying? And it makes a big difference.
0:20:34.9 MB: Sure.
0:20:35.0 KS: And so we are closing that gap. We’re closing that gap. I like to tell people like doing the research and having customer discovery calls with like the utility companies. In 2019, utility company wrote off $35 million for 118,000 customers. If you do the math, that’s roughly $300 a customer.
0:20:52.0 MB: Wow.
0:20:52.6 KS: If they would’ve used SpenDebt…
0:20:54.0 MB: They would’ve had it.
0:20:55.0 KS: They would’ve been able to recover those payments from those end users. Now, of course, everybody’s not gonna use it, but the point is, how do you close the gap? You took your hard-earned profits and wrote off all that money and lost customers. What about the social impact you could have for people at the bottom? How can you extend the lifetime value of that customer? That’s how we wanna change, because it’s our communities that are suffering.
0:21:15.2 MB: Absolutely.
0:21:15.3 KS: I remember not having lights growing up. I know what it felt like not having gas, having to warm up your water in the… All of that. You know what I mean?
0:21:22.0 MB: That’s right.
0:21:22.1 KS: So how do you change the paradigm to support people at the bottom because it’s expensive to be poor. And so these corporations have an opportunity to do that. You write the money off anyway.
0:21:31.5 MB: That’s right.
0:21:32.0 KS: Reposition that, empower people financially and watch them succeed. Because I tell you, Black people are proud people.
0:21:38.1 MB: That’s right.
0:21:38.7 KS: We want to pay our bills.
0:21:39.7 MB: Right.
0:21:40.9 KS: So how do we do that? That’s why financial education is important. That’s why having access to financial tools, like SpenDebt is important and we wanna position, SpenDebt as a new payment solution to help people of all kind meet their financial obligations.
0:21:54.7 MB: What do you think has been the turning point to go from B2C to now working with B2B? Was it that you were able to share the data with people? What do you think has now allowed some of these corporate folks to pay attention to you?
0:22:08.5 KS: That’s a very good question. I think, one is the newness of it. It’s new in Fintech, it’s very hot. So everybody wants to understand it. But I think also it’s, they are being charged to meet the customer expectation.
0:22:24.4 MB: Got you.
0:22:24.5 KS: Everything is about the customer. And the moment we forget that we lose.
0:22:29.1 MB: We’re all in trouble.
0:22:30.2 KS: Yeah. We lose. And so I think that is the turning point. It’s like everything is now prescribed to the customer, to the end user. To the person. And so like, how do you continue to get granular in your model and your thinking strategically? So that’s what I think has caused the attention to…
0:22:45.6 MB: I love that.
0:22:47.1 KS: What we are doing.
0:22:47.6 MB: Just stick to the basics.
0:22:48.7 KS: That’s it.
0:22:50.1 MB: We’ll be back with more of my conversation with Kiley Summers right after the break. Welcome back. Here’s more of my conversation with Kiley Summers. So, we were talking earlier, not a lot of Black people in Fintech certainly not a space that you see a lot of Black men. What’s your journey been like?
0:23:16.2 KS: That is a loaded question.
0:23:18.4 MB: Just leave it out. You’re bald.
0:23:19.8 KS: Yeah.
0:23:20.8 MB: But, did you have hair when you started? Is that part of it?[laughter]
0:23:25.6 KS: No.
0:23:26.1 MB: Okay, okay.
0:23:27.8 KS: Some little things up there, but that got shaved off. But as being in this space, it’s… And it is not even a lot of people that you can reach out to and see. So we’re based in Houston, Texas. This idea came about 2016-ish. And I remember starting, and I didn’t… I couldn’t look around at anybody, to see anybody. And fast forward to this day the Houston ecosystem has just starting to Fintech mingle, innovation ecosystem. And so, from that time to now, six, seven years is still building. That’s just in Houston. So just across the country it’s almost mirrored and especially when it comes to Blacks. So the journey has been long.
0:24:16.1 MB: Yep.
0:24:16.5 KS: It has been very difficult in all facets. Whether it’s looking for resources, and I’m not just talking about capital because I think every business needs capital.
0:24:26.9 MB: Sure.
0:24:27.2 KS: But, you think about talent where to go find the talent, trusted talent, cultural fit talent because I think that’s important and the like. I think, all those things have been difficult. But at the end of the day, you need an ecosystem to drive. You need corporations, businesses to say, hey, we are looking for kind of the reverse pitch. Here’s some problems and we need solutions that’s going to solve these problems.
0:24:50.6 MB: Sure.
0:24:50.6 KS: Because it helps position in our product and service. And obviously it’s the audience. And I mean, we know that is a big burden on a lot of people in America.
0:24:58.6 MB: It is.
0:25:00.1 KS: So I think the audience has always been there, but it’s the evolution to connect all those dots.
0:25:04.2 MB: Sure.
0:25:04.6 KS: And so I think all of the back-end office things, those things are starting to come into play. And we’re starting to see a lot of open banking and all these stuff are going to help financial technology companies like ours.
0:25:21.3 MB: But why do you think it’s not a diverse space? Particularly because money is often the bane of most people of color’s existence. Are we afraid of it? Do we not know? Why do you think there’s not more of us in this space?
0:25:34.5 KS: Access?
0:25:34.8 MB: Say more.
0:25:37.8 KS: The Zuckerberg story. He had access to understanding business.
0:25:44.8 MB: Yes.
0:25:45.3 KS: He had a skill set of being a developer. And there was a problem before him for him to solve. We have a lot of problems in our community, a lot of problems.
0:25:57.7 MB: Amen.
0:26:00.0 KS: But we don’t know where to then turn to get the resource or have the access to exercise that thought or to exercise that idea to turn into a business. We may help one or two people before somebody say, you know what? That is a great idea. You need to do XYZ. It’s because, my mom and dad, they didn’t… I was the first one to go to college. So if you not around it, you don’t know what next step to take. It’s you at the end of the cliff. It’s easy to just turn back and just be comfortable. It’s a far drop.[laughter]
0:26:34.7 KS: You know what I’m saying? So I think…
0:26:35.7 MB: That may not make it back.
0:26:37.0 KS: I don’t have access to that airplane, to go up or to a parachute to land softly. So I’m not gonna take the risk. I’m gonna take that walk of faith. It’s having that access to resources to explore. One of the things in Houston, that we talking about funding and founders, investors, the majority, not the new majority. White males, let me just say it.
0:27:07.0 MB: The majority people in Texas, yes. [laughter]
0:27:10.0 KS: They get the funding to run the course of their idea to fail.
0:27:19.5 MB: That’s right.
0:27:21.7 KS: Minorities, we don’t get that, Black people do not get that, have not gotten that. And so that is a big difference. If I knew I could sacrifice some time and not all of my life savings to go run an idea with unlimited support. Man…
0:27:43.5 MB: All day, all day every day.
0:27:45.5 KS: How much successful will I be? Versus the… Where we are today. You know what I mean? So I think that’s it. It’s the access.
0:27:55.5 MB: How do people overcome the fear? How did you overcome the fear?
0:28:00.7 KS: I don’t think I have, fear and faith have to coexist, but faith is the driver.
0:28:06.7 MB: So fear is in the backseat. It’s okay for it to be there.
0:28:10.2 KS: It might be on the passenger seat.
0:28:12.0 MB: Okay. [laughter] As long as you stay focused.
0:28:13.2 KS: Exactly, but it don’t have the steering wheel. But it’s a necessary evil. The fear, we know it’s not real. Faith is, and so as long as I know that fear is just gonna keep me moving forward because I don’t wanna stay in the same spot because it can’t overtake you. I’m not gonna let it do that.
0:28:34.0 MB: Wow. Statistics show that the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs are Black women. What’s it like as a Black man being an entrepreneur?
0:28:48.7 KS: It’s a proud moment. And I think it’s great that we have sisters in that space. And it’s not a competition at all. It’s a celebration. And I think it’s a beautiful thing to see both of us in that space. And, I have a lot of female entrepreneur colleagues who are crushing it. And, I love to see them because they have resources. They have connections that they’ll pass along. A lot of us that was in the cohort together, we still stayed strong. I think I was one of the only Black man in there. [laughter]
0:29:34.0 MB: That’s what I’m asking because I was just gonna say, you were the only Black man in the cohort where we met. And obviously the women loved you. They were like, we gonna make sure Kiley, okay. I’m like, I think Kiley’s gonna be okay by himself. Don’t worry about it. But, that’s not the norm. And so what do you say to other brothers who may or may not be fortunate enough to have Talisha that says, go with it. What do you say? Because I know brothers have got amazing ideas, but they’re not showing up the same way Black women are why is that?
0:30:01.0 KS: Yeah. I think it’s… One, we are men. And it’s like, I gotta stand tall. I gotta be proud. I can’t be vulnerable. Much of all of this is about vulnerability.
0:30:14.0 MB: Absolutely. Yeah.
0:30:15.0 KS: The moment you think you are too big, you will fall. And so I think you gotta be vulnerable. You gotta say, Hey, I need help. It’s okay to say, man, like, I told my wife and not babe. Like, this is tough. I’ll go to earn confidence, this is where I need support. But my dad used to always say, when he met my wife, you got a winner on your hands. He used to call a little money mouse. But I think you got to be comfortable in who you are. And you are not bigger than anything that’s out there. And I think that’s the most important thing for people to overcome and it’s okay to fail. And it’s… Jay-Z, it is not a loss. It’s a lesson. Take these lessons and use them for few as fuel to continue to move forward. And so that’s how I pursue it and I keep going is, I can learn from anybody, whether it’s my one year old daughter or it’s a seasoned veteran in the entrepreneur space, I’m not bigger than that. And it’s that perspective and mindset. I think you gotta have as a black man, it’s gonna be challenging. I walked in some rooms where you almost get laughed outta the room because one, they don’t believe in the diversity of your solution or technology. Two, they never even heard of debt. Now…[laughter]
0:31:36.5 MB: That’s true.
0:31:37.7 KS: What? Huh? Have you read the news [0:31:40.3] ____.
0:31:40.4 MB: They got a trust fund.
0:31:43.0 KS: Exactly. And, so, you just gotta believe in who you are.
0:31:46.3 MB: Yeah.
0:31:46.4 KS: And you just gotta just know that it’s okay to not have it all. And it’s okay to not know…
0:31:53.5 MB: And to be vulnerable.
0:31:54.0 KS: And to be vulnerable. Yeah.
0:31:55.1 MB: Yeah. What are the things, obviously because you’re in the FinTech space in particular, it’s really hard. And as you mentioned, FinTech is now coming online. Is like the thing to be. And as we were starting, we were talking about different programs that you’ve been in and obviously for better or for worse post, George Floyd, everybody kind of cares about Black entrepreneurs. Talk a little bit about your journey in terms of getting that help. I get a lot of questions from folks saying, well, how do I know which program I should be in? And we don’t have to name specifically.
0:32:26.7 KS: Yeah. Yeah.
0:32:26.7 MB: Like, what are things that people should be looking for because it’s an opportunity cost for you. It’s an opportunity cost for an entrepreneur, particularly for you brother, to leave your family…
0:32:34.7 KS: Yeah.
0:32:35.3 MB: Back in the day before COVID.
0:32:36.5 KS: Yeah.
0:32:36.8 MB: To go to a program. And now there’s lots of them. What advice can you give folks saying, okay, well I got all these programs, where do I go?
0:32:43.3 KS: Yeah. So first of all, if you need help, you gotta put your name in every hat. You let them tell you no.
0:32:51.3 MB: Gotcha.
0:32:51.3 KS: Don’t you tell yourself no.
0:32:52.6 MB: I love that.
0:32:53.6 KS: And for when you don’t feel like going, you gotta go because sometimes when you show up, no, not sometimes when you show up, you’ll get the thing or the things that you didn’t even know that you were going there for. It could be the relationship, it could be the customer, or it could be your new teammate.
0:33:13.7 MB: Right.
0:33:14.2 KS: So that’s what I would say first. And you have to plug in to… And subscribe to all things business. If you’re entrepreneur, be… It’s a… You gotta be a student.
0:33:26.9 MB: Right. Yeah.
0:33:27.3 KS: You have to be a student. You gotta know who your competitors are. You gotta know who your collaborators are. And you gotta know some of the platforms and resources that are providing information that you need in order to make your product or service succeed. Right?
0:33:41.7 MB: Yeah.
0:33:41.7 KS: And so, you have to subscribe. You have to subscribe Melissa.
0:33:46.8 MB: Yeah.
0:33:47.0 KS: And you gotta study. You gotta put your name in a hat. But more than anything, you have to be a giver.
0:33:53.0 MB: Say more.
0:33:53.9 KS: You have to be a giver.
0:33:54.8 MB: ‘Cause you walking away from your stuff, you’re like, I’m here to get.
0:33:58.6 KS: Yeah. It’s so… Yeah. Absolutely. The name of the game is you, need to obtain the information and things you need in order to be successful. But you can’t know and get everything. And it’s gonna be some things that you gonna receive that somebody to your right or to your left need will you give it. Because the more you can show up as a giver, the more you will receive. And so that’s what it’s a fist you can’t put anything in, but open hand, you could put a lot of things in. It could pass through. So don’t be a, what they call a lake, be a river, be a pass to have the information. That’s what I believe that we have to think about and we have to do, in order to, obtain the things. And it’s okay to reach out to people.
0:34:39.2 MB: Sure.
0:34:39.4 KS: It’s okay to pick up, hey, heard that word again. Vulnerability.
0:34:43.7 MB: Yeah.
0:34:43.8 KS: So coach send a LinkedIn message, man, hey, I just saw you on CNBC or I just saw you on Shark Tank. I just saw you down the street at this in local media spot man, I just really wanna get to know you can I have 15 minutes of your time. I just really wanna know more about what you’re doing, I see how I can be helpful. People always wanna share what they do or what they know.
0:35:00.3 MB: Right.
0:35:00.7 KS: But you gotta be in position and you can’t be afraid to say and do that.
0:35:06.3 MB: You’ve mentioned pitching a couple of times and, I’ve had the privilege to see, both of you pitch, your wife actually won to a pitch competition. We did with, new Voices. People pitch all the time and they don’t get a response after all the pitching that you’ve done. What are a few key takeaways that you would give to entrepreneurs in terms of how they show up and what should they say?
0:35:34.3 KS: One, keep pitching.[laughter]
0:35:34.4 KS: First of all, let’s…
0:35:35.0 MB: There you go.
0:35:35.7 KS: Keep pitching. Every, every moment is a pitch moment, I think you gotta study that. And what I mean by study that, so here’s an example of study. I used to watch Shark Tank faithfully. And not because I wanted to see the businesses but I wanted to practice. After the founders, business owners give that pitch on that rug. You hear a bunch of questions from this esteemed panel. I try my best to answer every question. And if I didn’t have an answer, try to figure out what are they asking how do I need to respond? Can I respond to that question?
0:36:14.1 MB: Right.
0:36:15.1 KS: I’m always practicing that. And I just recently started the back watching Shark Tank, because I fell off.
0:36:20.5 MB: Well, now there’s where people look like you too.
0:36:22.3 KS: Yeah… Exactly.[laughter]
0:36:23.4 KS: Exactly. And so it’s okay if you don’t get a response. That means it, didn’t land.
0:36:30.2 MB: Right.
0:36:30.8 KS: Comedians tell jokes all the time and don’t get a…
0:36:32.7 MB: You got that right.
0:36:34.4 KS: A response.
0:36:34.7 MB: Yes.
0:36:36.2 KS: In church the pastor may give a word and don’t get a response.
0:36:38.4 MB: He does that pause there’s no.
0:36:39.9 KS: Yeah.
0:36:40.2 MB: There’s, a call. There’s no response.
0:36:42.3 KS: Exactly. Exactly. What pastor gonna say. Y’all gonna let me be the only one in here today?[laughter]
0:36:47.0 KS: So I think when you don’t get a response, you may have to change the message. And you then you gotta go test that message.
0:36:54.9 MB: Yeah.
0:36:55.3 KS: And I think it’s two type of people that win pitch competitions. It is a show.
0:37:03.6 MB: Yep.
0:37:04.0 KS: It is a show. Whoever can have the best theatrics…
0:37:06.5 MB: Yep.
0:37:06.8 KS: Right? Meaning who can be over the top, who can have that crazy wow factor or that it factor on stage I think most of the time they get the attention.
0:37:15.8 MB: Because you remember them.
0:37:16.9 KS: Exactly.
0:37:17.3 MB: When you go deliberate you’re like I don’t remember, oh, remember that one.
0:37:20.2 KS: Yeah.
0:37:20.8 MB: Got on a pink suit.
0:37:21.7 KS: Yeah.
0:37:21.9 MB: Or she told a joke or yeah, yeah.
0:37:24.3 KS: Or it’s that one who had that interesting business or the one that explained that the interesting business to a point where people could understand it.
0:37:31.2 MB: Gotcha.
0:37:31.3 KS: And see it as being a customer, an investor or a partner, right? Those are the two that I’ve seen always come out front, and so that is what pitching is is how can I put on a show and/or how can I teach what I’m doing to others?
0:37:47.9 MB: Yeah.
0:37:48.0 KS: To make them wanna say yes.
0:37:49.6 MB: Yes. Well, I would say one of the things that you’ll do well is you make it personal, right? You keep it simple.
0:37:55.4 KS: Yep.
0:37:55.7 MB: How many of y’all in debt?
0:37:56.8 KS: Yeah.
0:37:57.5 MB: Okay. How many of y’all are trying to get out of debt? It’s very… I remember Tanisha and people are like, yes, girl. She was a preacher too. Like yeah, girl, how I found you, I’m ready do something and [0:38:05.8] ____. So it’s real, it is real, it’s real. When you think back what would you have done differently?
0:38:15.2 KS: Nothing.
0:38:16.7 MB: No regrets.
0:38:17.7 KS: No regrets. This is my journey, I can’t change it. Yeah, you want a different outcome but the person I am today is because of what I went through yesterday, right? And I’m gonna be better for it tomorrow, and so I’m going to appreciate those nos just as much as I have the yeses. And I wouldn’t change anything, and we gonna keep taking the faith walk we don’t know where we gonna land.
0:38:43.5 MB: Sure.
0:38:44.1 KS: But there’s no quit in me and I think that’s one of my biggest characteristics is…
0:38:48.0 MB: Sure.
0:38:48.4 KS: There is no quit in me and sometimes it’s okay to walk away though. I’m not naive to think that I just gotta keep punching a wall, right? [laughter] At some point you get to a place where it’s okay to say. “You know I did this, I’ve done it and let’s move on.”
0:39:02.0 MB: Gotcha.
0:39:02.3 KS: But we’re not there yet.
0:39:04.2 MB: No I was gonna say, yay, yay.
0:39:04.5 KS: Yeah. No, no, no.
0:39:04.6 MB: Y’all just getting started.
0:39:05.0 KS: We’re just getting started, you know what I’m saying?
0:39:06.4 MB: That’s it.
0:39:06.7 KS: And so, but, yeah, that’s how I would… That’s how I think about it.
0:39:11.4 MB: Why weren’t you a preacher?[laughter]
0:39:15.2 KS: I don’t know.
0:39:16.3 MB: Or is it maybe that’s the next one. After after you sell this maybe that’s the next one.
0:39:19.3 KS: You know my great-great-grandfather was.
0:39:25.7 MB: I see it.
0:39:25.8 KS: Ella summer. So my grand ma my last living grandmother I’m gonna make sure she hear this and so she can hear her name. Verdel Haynes.
0:39:32.4 MB: Verdel Haynes. Okay. Got it. All right.
0:39:33.2 KS: Yeah. That’s my dad’s mom. And we talk every day. Wow. And she’s yeah she she’s she’s she’s she always say she’s opposite of what she is she’s 38. [laughter]
0:39:44.0 MB: I like that.
0:39:45.4 KS: She…
0:39:46.4 MB: You start flipping the numbers.
0:39:49.0 KS: Yeah, she’s flipping the numbers.
0:39:49.0 MB: I love that, I love that.
0:39:51.5 KS: She say I’m getting young. Y’all getting old. But anyway she she always say I’m gonna make a preacher out of one of you guys. And and so we know. We don’t know what the the future may hold for me. I I obviously I’m a man of faith. Yes. I’m a husband I’m a father I’m an entrepreneur. And whatever God has for me he has for me. It is what it is. Yeah. We’ll we’ll see.
0:40:11.3 MB: All right. When I met you and I read your application you often talked about faith. And in the Black community that’s a big deal… But what is interesting to me is that it tends to be like faith is over here. Family is over here. Yeah. Business is over here. You bring them all together… What has been the reaction to that?[laughter]
0:40:37.8 KS: We showed up in the in the accelerator. I’ll give you a story. We showed up in an accelerator and at this time we we had pitched and we’ve been pitch winners. Along the way and I’m pitching and the lady the managing director says to me you sound like a preacher. Or a used car salesman. And so I got angry because I there wasn’t helpful advice. I couldn’t do nothing with that.
0:41:04.0 MB: Right right.
0:41:06.8 KS: And and and and so but now that you asked me this question obviously I’ve been digesting that for a long long time… That’s just who I am. And that’s what it’s about Melissa. You can’t compartmentalize who you are.
0:41:23.0 MB: Your life. Yeah.
0:41:23.0 KS: Right. You it you gotta show up with it all together. And I owe that… One I owe that to myself… Right. Because in corporate America we cold switch all the time.
0:41:32.5 MB: That’s right. You check yourself at the door.
0:41:36.1 KS: And and you get shunned. You get shunned being the wrong person. And so like if I’m gonna do this one I need to be the example or the model, that I need to see. My wife and co-founder, co-partner, life partner she needs to see that. And ultimately our kids need to see that. And so that’s why faith is a part of what we do. And God gave us His vision Hebrews 11:6 it’s impossible to please God without faith. So if you ain’t doing this on faith what are you doing it on? It’s not about the money. Yeah. It it that comes. That’s the result of it. But it’s not about the money. It it’s it’s really about walking the line of faith taking a step when you don’t even see where you going to land.
0:42:23.1 MB: Walk by faith not by sight.
0:42:23.2 KS: That’s it. All day long. So.
0:42:28.2 MB: You’ve quoted your dad a lot. I want to end on what is the best quote your dad ever gave you? Or could be more than one.
0:42:36.5 KS: I think it’s the one that I frequently use which is so powerful is when he dies he said well son when I die I want all generational curses to die with me. And let me let me like give some context and paint this a little bit.
0:43:00.4 MB: Unpack that.
0:43:05.3 KS: My mom and dad got married when I was real young. Young parents. My dad wasn’t the best husband. He wasn’t the best father. He was… He sold drugs back in the day. He was on drugs. Domestic disputes. You he was his health wasn’t the best. He was legally blind. He was… Had diabetes. He had a couple strokes, heart attacks. But obviously he he changed his life over time.
0:43:40.6 MB: Sure.
0:43:41.9 KS: And got his self together. And he used to say to my brother and I, “Don’t do what I did son I can’t teach you how to stay married because I didn’t stay married but I could teach you the things to not stay married so you don’t do those things.” It was these lessons that he learned through his experience that I hold on to. Right. And then what I know he wanted to become my dad used to own a tavern. And I watched him try to get a tavern off the ground a bar for people to and he struggled. And one of the things he struggled with is he didn’t have ownership. Rent was the thing that stressed him out.
0:44:31.6 MB: Sure.
0:44:32.1 KS: Son. He said there’s 1250 waiting on me every month whether I got a customer or not you know. And so is again having a front row seat being a witness to my dad… From a young adolescence to a grown man. I understand now being in this scene… And I wish I could share my experiences with him. So when when I hear my dad echo in my soul today when I die I want all generational curses to die with me because he wants me to be better. He wants us to be better. He want us to have an opportunity to have a great family a sustainable family that perpetuates because if you think about some of the the most profound last names the Obamas right. How we can we can be that too. Right. We can create generations but it’s gonna start with us. And my dad understood that but he understood it after he had failed experiences. Sure. Not losses but lessons.
0:45:35.7 MB: I love that. I don’t say this often brother but you know I love you.
0:45:38.1 KS: I love you too.
0:45:38.8 MB: You are an amazing man.
0:45:49.3 KS: Thank you.
0:45:53.4 MB: Kiley reminds us to listen to our inner voices as they are usually leading us on the right path. He said let others tell you no but don’t miss out on your blessings. He shared how important it is to engage your family in your journey and that we also need to always show up as our authentic self. Kiley is on a mission to shift the paradigm of those on the bottom. Join him on his journey and be sure to check out SpenDebt.
0:46:20.8 MB: Thank you for listening to Founder Hustle. If you enjoyed this conversation please subscribe and tell a friend. For more information about our guests check out our website wearenmv.com there you’ll find all kinds of information tools and resources for the new Majority entrepreneur. To stay connected follow us on social media at We Are NMV or Search hashtag Founder Hustle. Founder Hustle is a production of Kinetic Energy Entertainment and New Majority Ventures. Our producer is Ann Kane. Our social media producer is Misako Envela. The intro theme is Vuelta Al Sol by Tomás Novoa. The credit theme is Glide by Columbia Nights, and the Yays are from Ratata by Curtis Cole. I’m Melissa Bradley. See you next time.