Hi Reddit! I'm Frida Leibowitz, the CEO of Debbie.

I grew up in an immigrant, single-parent, non-college educated family that was always in debt because of trying to keep up with the Joneses. As an adult, I fell into the same trap and racked up $50k in debt by the time I was 20 years old.

I got a scholarship to NYU and after college ended up working in consumer lending at Marcus by Goldman Sachs (the irony). I got to see how the system that promises 'financial freedom' actually perpetuates the vicious cycle.

6 months ago, I started Debbie- the first rewards platform for debt payoff. We're proving that rewarding users for positive financial habits is much more effective than punishing them for bad ones (like using late fees, credit score hits etc).

We raised $1m from Liquid 2 Ventures (Joe Montana's fund), BDMI (VC arm of Bertelsmann, parent company of Penguin Random House), One Way VC (immigrant focused fund), Village Global, Green Egg Ventures, and others.

We have started building a waitlist which is now at 4k signups. Sign up here.

AMA about overcoming generational debt and building a venture-backed business at the age of 25.

Starting on December 9th 5pm ET/ 4pm CT/ 2pm PT.

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 91 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

Schrecht17 karma

You raised a million, and plan to pay out 100,000? Sounds solid.

two-wheels-gal4 karma

We're super lucky to still have $900k to run our business and we've budgeted accordingly. We're not doing anything our investors didn't already know about :)

two-wheels-gal2 karma

Haha and in the future hopefully much more! Goal is to prove this out and keep growing it by partnering with more financial institutions.

SpaceTestMonkey5 karma

What bike do you ride? Sorry I don't have any business related questions as they've all been answered.

two-wheels-gal1 karma

A Honda Rebel at the moment 🏍🎉

SpaceTestMonkey2 karma

What CC and how long have you been riding? The new 1100 looks very fancy.

two-wheels-gal2 karma

300cc and I've been riding about 1.5 years! Not yet on the fancy ones, still trying to save money :)

pogostickshrewd5 karma

What are you looking for from potential new users?

two-wheels-gal0 karma

We're hoping that our users are able to hustle, pay off debt and build better money habits! Those would be our best customers 🌟

sadcthulu4 karma

How do you, as a company, make money?

two-wheels-gal5 karma

We partner with financial institutions who pay to have more engaged customers! They use us to find and retain good customers

There's a common misconception that financial institutions make money when people get worse, but long term actually they lose those customers and make less money.

Trapptor4 karma

What sort of data do you share that allows them to pinpoint those customers?

two-wheels-gal5 karma

We anonymize the data, and share high level success metrics- like how much more likely Debbie users are to pay off debt on time and manage spending better.

We're not pinpointing specific customers, but we would say "Chase customers who use Debbie are X% more likely to pay off debt faster"

Jurydeva1 karma

Are you then selling the data to the companies, or are you acting as a middle man who incentivizes your users to sell their data unknowingly to these companies via your “rewards”?

two-wheels-gal6 karma

We don't sell individual data at all. Our business model is not around selling data, it's around proving that Debbie users have better performance on debt payoff and wealth building.

Take a look at Zogo Finance, they partner up with Credit Unions and pay users with gift cards for completing financial literacy modules. Their goal is to help create better financial habits for their users as well.

CharminSqueezer4 karma


two-wheels-gal3 karma

We believe that we can build social good through a profitable business. Today's financial institutions' incentives are not aligned with their customers and we're changing that- as customers get better we grow with them.

CharminSqueezer3 karma


two-wheels-gal2 karma

Definitely not AI here, just me :)

I hear you, I've also been burned plenty by financial institutions and saw first-hand how this happens when I worked at Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

One of the big difference with Debbie is that we're built BY Borrowers- we're not just a couple of corporate guys, we're debt veterans ourselves. So we understand why current products are not working well for consumers and ultimately are not sustainable, and we know how to build something different.

Right now, our main goal is to prove that we can use rewards to improve financial behavior. We believe that those become much better customers and monetization will eventually come.

Yung-Retire1 karma

How are you monetizing your users?

two-wheels-gal3 karma

We don't charge our customers, we make money by partnering with financial institutions who pay to have more engaged customers! They use us to find and retain good customers.

check out Rakuten and Honey - they use a similar concept in the retail space and have grown into massive businesses.

frenchpundit3 karma

How does Debbie help me build better money habits? Is it just another budgeting app?

two-wheels-gal4 karma

Nope, we're not a budgeting app. We help customers set realistic financial goals and when they hit those goals they get paid. For example, we have a debt payoff streak goal where for every month of reducing debt you get a cash reward!

AwkwardSpread3 karma

How do you prevent users from using another loan you don’t know about only to get your reward?

two-wheels-gal3 karma

We reward users for hooking up all of their accounts, so we incentivize them to share as much as they can! We also make sure the accounts that are linked are active

mobydog9 karma

And who are you selling the data to

two-wheels-gal2 karma

We don't sell the data! We just prove that our customers get better, the financial institutions can see that themselves via their own loan performance and credit score improvement.

two-wheels-gal0 karma

We use the data to show our users personalized tasks and goals which they can hit along their debt freedom journey, and they can earn rewards for completing them.

Royalisaword2 karma

What significance is the name Debbie? Can you define generational debt? Then can you explain:

  • how your business is targeted to potential applicants
  • what qualities and qualifications are required to submit applications
  • aside from the money, what support is given to the clients
  • what happens if the client fails to thrive
  • where do the profits go?
  • do you expect the company to eventually be publicly traded? If not, what is the long term goal?

two-wheels-gal0 karma

Wow that's quite a list :)

Debbie - bit of FU to all male-name companies (Marcus, Dave, Albert... ) + play on words 'Debt' + my sister's name

Generational debt- debt habits tend to trickle into the next generation which is what happened to me. I grew up around debt, and went straight into the same trap as an adult.

  • Our messaging is 'Get paid to pay off your debt'
  • We are looking for beta users who have high interest debt like credit cards, Buy Now Pay Later, and personal loans- goal is to help them pay it off
  • We use the data to provide personalized goals and milestones along the debt-freedom journey
  • If clients fail to thrive we try to offer them guidance for their situation- we also never take away rewards. A failed user is a failure for us :(
  • Profits are reinvested into the business to keep growing
  • We would love to IPO eventually 🎉

Oxygen952 karma

You keep using the word "hustle." What exactly do you mean by that?

two-wheels-gal1 karma

I meant hustle in a positive way - best definition I found is: "To strive headstrong and voraciously towards a goal"- hustling means setting goals and achieving them!

sadcthulu2 karma

I'm an aspiring entrepreneur, also 25, how do you go about approaching VCs? How far along in development were you before trying?

two-wheels-gal4 karma

Nice, good for you 🎉

We started with angels who we know- so my former bosses, they invested first. Then we went to VCs with a very clear go to market plan and told them we already had some money from people who knew us

rumars_inquestion2 karma

How'd you and/or others come up with naming your business Debbie? And do you like sandwiches?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

Debbie - bit of FU to all male-name companies (Marcus, Dave, Albert... ) + play on words 'Debt' + my sister's name + have you ever met a bad Debbie ;)

And I LOVE sandwiches- I really hate cooking and I'm generally working long hours so sandwiches are my go to - any good sandwich recommendations would be much appreciated 🤤

gastown2 karma

What are your thoughts on the Debt Collective?

two-wheels-gal1 karma

Haven't heard of it yet, but looks interesting! With Debbie we're trying to come at it from a bit of a different angle, we're targeting debts that are driven by poor financial habits and lack of financial education (my debts were mostly due to that)- those each of us can solve by changing the root causes that get us into those situations over and over again!

SnooPickles64582 karma

What kind of rewards do you offer to users?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

Initially it will be cash rewards (similar to Rakuten and Honey etc). We'll keep adding more in the future like stocks and crypto!

crispee-creme1 karma

What’s the biggest motivator for someone to get out of debt? What’s the one thing that keeps people from getting out of debt?

two-wheels-gal1 karma

It's very personal :)

One thing I've consistently noticed, it's that being "debt free" on its own is not enough. It's more important to understand what doors debt-freedom actually opens for you.

For me personally, my biggest motivator was being able to put money aside towards saving and investing. I started doing those things before I was even debt free, just to get that feeling of building wealth and stay motivated.

For others, debt freedom can mean having more freedom with their time- being able to take time off of work to be with family or even quit a job that they really hate.

People have a hard time getting out of debt because they often can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and putting off gratification- it's super tough to put aside short term happiness in favor of some goal you'll only reach is 1-5 years.... I've been there.

Radiant_Ad38111 karma

How long did it take you to raise and what were the biggest challenges?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

It took us about 3 months to raise (after many months of working hard to get ready!). On of the biggest challenges was being young female founders trying to enter into a space that is traditionally dominated by older men... We made it through though 🥳

QianaDelgadillo1 karma

How did you go about paying off your debt?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

I did a few things- I started with a few 0% balance transfers to at least park some debt without accruing more fees. Then I did debt consolidation- I took out a personal loan.

Most importantly though- I really limited my spending and started checking my accounts every single day to make sure I was on track! It was really really tough but I learned to live below my means and that's really what got me out.

Se_renshi1 karma

Can you pay me 50$ to get through the month? lmao

two-wheels-gal1 karma

Once you're a user on the app, yes you can earn that but you'd have to hustle for it first :)

Our goal is to help users jumpstart their emergency fund.

FemaleKwH1 karma

How do you make money by paying people to get out of debt? Do you own and consolidate their debt and collect the interest?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

Nope, we do not own the debt. We make money by partnering with financial institutions who sponsor the rewards product for their users.

Check out more on the business model in my previous comment! https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/rcrt46/comment/hobwi97/?utm\_source=share&utm\_medium=web2x&context=3

Lemondrop19951 karma

This looks really interesting. Debt is a serious problem in this country. If you don't mind me asking, what is the business model of your start-up?

two-wheels-gal2 karma

We're partnering with financial institutions to sponsor the rewards. The logic behind it is that by helping their customers improve, they can ensure better debt repayment + help their customers grow into wealth building products like savings/investing/path to home ownership etc.

Hope that makes sense!

Lemondrop19952 karma

This is really amazing! Thank you so much for creating this.

two-wheels-gal2 karma

Thank you for the support ☺️🥰

Lousy_Professor0 karma


two-wheels-gal1 karma

We make money from financial institutions, not users. They are using this as an acquisition and retention tool.

check out Rakuten and Honey - they use a similar concept and have grown into massive businesses.