Wharton FinTech
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Wharton FinTech

Rohit Mittal, Co-Founder and CEO of Stilt — Loans for Immigrants and the Underserved

In today’s episode, Anirudh Singh sits down with Rohit Mittal of Stilt.

They discuss:

Rohit’s Background:
Moved to the U.S. as a grad student at Columbia. Upon graduating, he worked in the credit risk industry, consulting for banks on their credit risk portfolio. Later, Rohit moved to the bay area to work at Popsugar, as a data scientist on the growth team.

When Rohit initially moved to the U.S., he couldn’t rent an apartment in New York because of a lack of credit score. He ended up sleeping on a Columbia alum's couch for several weeks. Later, another student offered Rohit a room because he had faced the same problem in the past. Years later, Rohit talked with this roommate about a side project that made moving to the United States financially easier. This side project eventually became Stilt.

Rohit’s Idea Book:
Rohit keeps a book where he jots down his favorite ideas for companies. While flipping through this book, he found one intriguing idea from the past: trying to increase the number of students moving to the U.S. for education by creating a non-profit fund. Immigrants who have already settled in the United States would be able to contribute to the fund. This idea evolved into creating a credit risk model for immigrants. At first, no investors decided to put money behind this credit risk model — except Rohit’s co-founder. Rohit and his co-founder bootstrapped the company until they were selected into Y-Combinator.

Growing Stilt:
Rohit credits a lot of the initial success for Stilt to Y-Combinator, including helping the team learn how to build a startup, run a startup, pitch to investors, raise debt and equity funding, and hire.

Stilt has found the immigrant population to be an excellent population for loans. Stilt offers customers unsecured personal loans for up to $35K on day 1 of their arrival in the U.S. Per Rohit — “You can land, on the way to your apartment you can apply for a loan, and get approved by the time you are there”. Stilt has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, to tens of thousands of immigrants, from 160 countries. So far, the greatest adoption has come from immigrants from South Asia and Latin America. The team hopes to make the product as accessible as possible to all segments of the immigrant population.

Stilt has created a blog to help educate immigrants about financial services in the United States. The blog has also become an extremely unique and effective way to attract customers, getting 10M+ visitors per year. Rohit has also found that the referral rate among the immigrant community is very high — helping the team keep customer acquisition cost low. Finally, the team has recently started YouTube influencer partnerships with immigrants. In total — Stilt has helped its customers gather $200M in additional lifetime income.

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Rohit Mittal:
Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

Prior to founding Stilt, Rohit started his career at Verisk Analytics using big data to optimize credit risk. He went on to become the founding member of the data science team at Popsugar, helping the company build its analytics framework for data science efforts.

Rohit has a Bachelor’s degree from Delhi College of Engineering and Master’s degree from Columbia University.

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About the Author
Anirudh Singh is a second-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, where he is part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast team. He has a passion for economic development, venture capital, financial services, and all things FinTech. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, feedback, and opportunities at singhan@wharton.upenn.edu.

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Anirudh Singh

Anirudh Singh

Wharton MBA Candidate, Fintech Enthusiast, Early Stage Investing

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