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Hello, hello hello and welcome to the Upside podcast the first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse, and I’m accompanied by my co host, Mr. fresh new haircut himself. Eric Hornung,
Eric Hornung 0:13
We’re back, baby. We are back.
Jay Clouse 0:15
Looking good new mic, new haircut, maybe not a new suit but new to me. You don’t often wear a suit for our recordings?
Eric Hornung 0:21
Well, I think that you’re forgetting that. Prior to these last 11 months. I used to be in a suit and tie all the time. I used to have my haircut all the time. But I have been living the stay at home lifestyle for the last month. Well, 11 months. I’m ready to come back. I’m ready.
Jay Clouse 0:39
I like to imagine that you’re just full suit in your bedroom for zoom calls all day,
Eric Hornung 0:45
When that’d be amazing. But also no suit pants, you know, like full suit and tie up top got the tie bar and everything. No pants.
Jay Clouse 0:52
It’s that Folgers commercial? Your whole team can see your upper thigh.
Eric Hornung 0:57
I haven’t seen that.
Jay Clouse 0:58
Oh, that’s so good.
Eric Hornung 0:58
I do think that when you wear a full suit and tie at home on the zoom, it makes a big splash.
Jay Clouse 1:03
And speaking of splash today, we’re doing a little bit of a feed takeover with our second newest show on the Upside network Lay of the Land. And episode with Jeff speaking with Steve Muszynski, the founder and CEO of Splash Financial in Cleveland. Eric, what are we doing? What’s the speed takeover business?
Eric Hornung 1:23
I’m so pumped because Jeff got to the three month mark. So we said three months would be a beta test, we’d understand kind of how the podcast was working, how it was being received. And Jeff is absolutely crushing it. He’s had some incredible guests on the show. He’s had some wide ranging conversations with things that we can’t really have on Upside. Jay, a big part of launching these local shows was that we realized upside can go broad, but we can’t go deep. And when we go broad that means we focus on a very narrow segment of the market. We focus on pre series A founders that are looking to raise in the next 12 to 18 months that are mostly focused in tech businesses. Jeff, by focusing local can go broader, so he can talk to companies that are beyond series A. He can talk to companies that will never get venture funding. He can talk to companies that aren’t tech based, but that have growth potential. So I think that Lay of the Land is a perfect example of what’s going to happen as we roll out more and more and more of these local business podcasts.
Jay Clouse 2:24
And Jeff is frustratingly good at interviewing for someone who has not been doing a show for as long as we’ve been doing Upside. He’s just so good. He’s actually really really adept at this. I love the intro music that Jeff has. It all feels very easy and casual. So good find Mr. Hornung.
Eric Hornung 2:41
I take zero credit. I give all of the credit to Jeff being as incredible to work with as he is having the great voice for doing podcasts but also asking just incredible questions. We got lucky. That’s for sure. Jay, we got lucky. I take no credit.
Jay Clouse 2:58
We hope that you give Lay of the Land a listen, we’re going to play that episode, which is episode nine with Steve Muszynski of Splash Financial in full here in a moment. Jeff is now up through Episode 12, Episode 13 going out this week. So if you enjoy this episode with Jeff have the Lay of the Land, feel free to give it a subscribe in your podcast player. It’s good. It’ll add to your week. And we’ll get to that episode with Jeff, right after this. Eric, the Upside Podcast Network is growing.
Eric Hornung 3:30
We’re growing, we’re adding new podcasts, we’re looking at more Jay.
Jay Clouse 3:35
We’re looking at more, we have a strong bar now set by lay of the land. And When Pigs Fly in Cleveland and Cincinnati respectively. We would love to hear about your city though. And consider launching a new podcast on the Upside network where you’re from.
Eric Hornung 3:50
One of the best parts about launching on the upside network is being surrounded by a group like When Pigs Fly and Lay of the Land, to accelerate the development of your idea to run ideas by to learn about how to build a podcast. That’s what we’re doing here, Jay.
Jay Clouse 4:05
And we’d love for you to be a part of it. If you’re interested in exploring starting a podcast in your local city, you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org. And let us know we’d love to hear about you and your idea for your city. And if it’s a good fit, maybe just maybe you’ll be on the Upside network too.
Steve Muszynski 4:27
One thing that I think is helped us be successful is we don’t get caught up in it. The growth is great. But the goal is to be a multi billion dollar company and when when you’re thinking about that it’s not just for the glory of saying we’re a multi billion dollar company. I mean, like that actually doesn’t glory aspect doesn’t matter to me. It’s the impact that comes with with that both economics of the region, jobs and our mission as a company which is a social good company, a double bottom line company in that, we’re able to to help eventually consumers shop and save for their financial problems.
Jeffrey Stern 5:05
Let’s discover the Cleveland entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are telling the stories of its entrepreneurs and those supporting them. Welcome to the Lay of the Land Podcast, where we are exploring what people are building in Cleveland. And we’re coming to you live from Cleveland as well. Today’s guest is actually one of the first people I have ever met in Cleveland, back when his company was still mostly just the founding team, and going by the name of grad school loans. Steven osinski is the founder and CEO of Splash Financial, and worth noting he is a formidable recreational soccer opponent, as well. Splash is a national FinTech company that operates the leading student loan refinance marketplace, helping people save money by accessing a network of lenders offering great student loan refinancing rates, their goal is simple. It is to help people save on their student loan debt. Splash is one of if not the fastest growing company in Cleveland, and formally recognized as the eighth fastest growing company in Ohio by Growjo, having just raised 17 million in venture capital, and was also named one of the top 250 private FinTech companies in the world by CB insights, I am excited to share the story of Steve and Splash because I think they’ve flown relatively under the radar for how much they’ve been able to accomplish in the past few years here in Cleveland. So please enjoy our conversation.
Before we dive into Splash Financial and the story behind the company, I’d love to just kind of lay the groundwork for the problem that Splash is addressing here, I realized we could spend the entire episode just talking about the problem. But could you give us a little bit of an overview of the student debt situation as it is today? What is it exactly? How bad is it? How did we get here to where we are today?
Steve Muszynski 7:00
Yeah, so it’s a huge problem in the country. 45 million Americans have student loans making up $1.7 trillion in debt, the cost of education has been rising at a credible clip, and most people are financing that and post secondary education with student loans. And so you end up with some people having half a million dollars in student loan debt. And even if you’re a doctor, it’s a lot of debt rates are fairly high. So the government’s the main lender, and to actually loans come from the Department of Education. So when you’re getting a loan, they’re lending to everyone at the same level, meaning someone that maybe isn’t going to make as much money or maybe they don’t graduate college, from a risk perspective, at the same rate as someone that is has a very strong earning potential. And so you have a lot of people that have rates that could be lower. There’s also a societal question of just incredible amounts of debt, some people not graduating college that’s not good for society and holding people back. So overall student loans is just a huge problem in the country right now.
Jeffrey Stern 8:12
Yeah, it certainly feels like a full blown crisis with the 1.7 trillion you mentioned. And, you know, many borrowers unable to pay down the principal until much later in, in life. I guess, when we talk about Splash and setting the the context there. Can you just kind of share a bit of your own background? And you know, what inspired you to ultimately tackle this problem specifically?
Steve Muszynski 8:38
Sure. Yeah. So Splash, we’re a student loan refinance marketplace. So we allow consumers to go to Splash fill out one simple form of debt rates from a network of lenders that we source, essentially, we shop for them, helping them get a great offer, and hopefully save them 10s of 1000s of dollars on their debt. As an example, like this month, which is December of 2020. Our average rate is well below 4% on the platform, and so if someone graduates with between 6% to 8%, and then they come slash default form, they get rates from our partner lenders. In theory, they could lower the rates by a couple percent. So my journey here is non traditional. I had a student loan alone, my friends have student loan debt, I’m lucky enough to have paid it off at this point. But a lot of my friends, not six figure that a lot of my friends have doctors, lawyers, and people are just struggling with the rates and trying to figure out how much money they can save. And when when we looked at the space, we thought about what are the challenges people are facing. And one of the challenges and one thing that makes Splash very unique is that while there are a lot of refinancing companies, there isn’t a one stop shop where if you go to a place online, you know you can get great offers from a network of lenders. And one thing that makes Splash very unique is that we’ve actually built technology to be able to watch banks and credit unions that maybe don’t already have a student loan refinance product. So when you think of a traditional marketplace, you think of a digital connection to a company that has a product accessible, you just sort of have this middleman platform. What makes us unique is that we have this vertically integrated technology stack, that allows us to process loans on lenders behalf. And so it allows us to bring in these banks and credit unions to compete just like a digital disrupter or a digital player. And that allows us to offer really good rates. So question about my, my path to get here. We’ve known each other for a while. And so it’s like, you’ve seen a bit of the journey and evolution, we weren’t always student loan refinancing, there was a point in time when we were digital savings, and.
Jeffrey Stern 10:58
Back in the days of grad school loans.
Steve Muszynski 11:00
Back in the day, I mean, before grad school loans, there was Lender Link. I mean, So I founded the company in 2013, with the main concept that cost of education is growing at an insurmountable clip, and that it wasn’t just a lending problem, it was a saving problem. People weren’t saving enough. Because if your parents, I mean, you have a lot of things you’re worried about. But you also this is seven years ago, but people would, what we were pitching is people would not necessarily understand how much colleges increase because you’re not in that world. So when your child enters High School, and maybe they’re junior and they start looking at colleges, it’s sicker shock, you’re like a cost what? A lot of people haven’t saved enough. And so our original concept was helping them save more for the child’s college education, borrow less, creating digital savings accounts before it was cool. And then helping them qualify for discounts on undergraduate loans at the same time. So the migration really was based off of clear product market fit. And I think that’s why we’ve been able to both survive and really thrive over the last few years, especially, it’s just a constant innovation to product market fit. And a realization that, as a founder, you fall in love with your original idea. But your original idea might just not be good. You might have like a kernel in there. That is right. Or you might be too early. No. And people say this all the time being too early. We did digital savings accounts. challenger banks are huge right now. But in 2013, that was not a thing. And so when we were launching digital savings, baby boomers, people 4050 years old, they didn’t want to save online, they want to save it their bank. And so it just was early. So that meant it was wrong. We just couldn’t get product market fit with it might have been different today. But the evolution of student loan refinancing really just found from was was born from recognizing the need that I had recognizing a need that a lot of my friends had and trying to figure out how we could differentiate ourselves in the space and the marketplace structure is very unique, especially with our vertical technology integrations.
Jeffrey Stern 13:12
So, so where is Splash Financial today? What’s the current state of the company and over the past year or so how has it been faring in the pretty unpredictable and difficult environment we find ourselves in?
Steve Muszynski 13:28
Yeah. So unsplash has had some headwinds and tailwinds related to COVID. Overall, this year, we’ve we’ve done incredibly well brought 285 people we’ve raised 17 million of venture capital, some great investors, Northwestern Mutual future ventures and CMFG ventures, which is the venture capital arm of CUNA mutual works with a lot of credit unions as an insurance company. And we’re trying to onboard banks and credit unions into our platform. So it’s a good, good connection. So we’ve been able to grow a lot this year, over the last 18 months, our revenue has increased about 2100% MRR. We don’t disclose our revenue, but it’s in the 10s of millions at this point. And it’s, we anticipate a really strong year, next year and three to four acts continued growth. And so I mentioned headwinds and tailwinds as a marketplace specifically focused on lending to loan refinancing specifically for us your rate dependent in many ways. So as the rate environment reduces refinancing booms, you’ve seen that a mortgage that has helped us grow. On top of that we’ve onboarding like many additional lending partners through our digital technology. We’re working on a fully automated and paperless system so that we can originate and really help people sign their loan docs and minutes get approved and sign in minutes, which is what we aim to be doing early next year. But the you know, the the growth really has been significant, even with some of the headwinds. Which are that the government temporarily has paused student loan payments and reduced interest rates to 0%, which from a society standpoint is important. I mean that that was something that needed to happen with COVID. And a lot of people lost their jobs and struggling to pay. At some point, the market will normalize. And when it comes to loan refinancing, we’ll be able to, when people’s rates go up, we’ll be able to help them save money again. So the market that we’re seeing right now is really people that have private student loan debt versus federal so if there are 45 million Americans. The student loan debt about 43 million have federal so there’s like this 2 million person gap that have private student loans that aren’t eligible for the government benefits that are looking to refinance right now. But next year, the market is gonna explode again. And so we anticipate our ability to help people will dramatically increase their rates, go back up.
Jeffrey Stern 15:52
Got it. Yeah. And we don’t have to get really into the politics of it. But I’m curious from a business perspective, with the talk of, I think, effectively forgiveness of about a third of the 1.7 trillion and the outstanding student loan debt. How are you guys thinking about the effect that that has on the business? And, you know, ultimately, the stated goal, I think of what you’re doing is to help people save on their student loans. So how are you thinking through, you know, a world with loan forgiveness, and maybe the proliferation of alternative financial vehicles, like income share agreements, and you know, that that kind of alternative options that are there.
Steve Muszynski 16:33
Looking at in two ways, the first one is a practical way. And it’s not meant to be political at all. I mean, our goal is to help people reduce their student loan debt. So some form comes in forgiveness, it comes in forgiveness, and it is what it is. But we’re looking at the practical side, we kind of just read the room, a hands is something likely to happen as we’re trying to build our business, there seems to be a likelihood that some level of forgiveness will happen. The average person graduates from undergrad with about 30,000 users, if you wiped out 10,000 per person, like you said, You’re talking about third or fourth, you know, you’re talking about like 450 billion. That’s a lot. That actually is, Biden’s proposal when he was running, his thoughts were forgive 10,000 improve things like Income Based Repayment for people that are unable to pay.
Jeffrey Stern 17:26
Steve Muszynski 17:26
There’s some tax issues going on. For when people get forgiveness in 20 years, they’ve been saddled with debt for that long. And so if that were to happen, it actually wouldn’t dramatically impact our business, a lot of our loans, people with higher loan balances with advanced degrees, those don’t tend to be the people that a lot of politicians are talking to in regards to forgive debts. But, you know, we also think about that diversification. So this is the other way, I mentioned that. It’s two ways, but think about other ways diversification. So long term Splash will diversify away from just being student loan refinancing, because there is some element of political risks, regardless of if that political risk is practical, or likely, you just want to diversify to reduce your risk as a business period. So that is a way that we think about it long run, but it’s really just like everyone else looking at what are the politicians thinking about? And.
Jeffrey Stern 18:22
Steve Muszynski 18:22
What seems to make the most sense for the country. And, you know, our goal is to help people so that some elements forgiven will be there to help you finance the rest.
Jeffrey Stern 18:32
There’s a few things you mentioned that I want to dive a little deeper on it, to my knowledge, there are not too many companies in the Cleveland region exhibiting the kind of growth that you just spoke to at the magnitude of top line revenue that that you have, I guess, from a both a five year time horizon, you know, what, where is it that you hope Splash can be in the kind of impact that that you hope to have both as a company and also as a presence here in Cleveland?
Steve Muszynski 19:03
Yeah, I think I think you’re right, that not as many companies are able to exhibit that level of growth. One thing I think it’s helped us be successful is we don’t get caught up in it. The growth is great. But the goal is to be a multi billion dollar company. And when, when you’re thinking about that, it’s not just for the glory of saying we’re a multi billion dollar company. I mean, like, that actually doesn’t glory aspect doesn’t matter. To me. It’s the impact that comes with, with that both economics of the region, jobs and our mission as a company, which is a social good company, a double bottom line company, in that we’re able to help eventually consumers shop and save for their financial products. I mean, as we think about diversification, it’ll be expanding beyond just just student loans. And specifically what that is, we’ll we’ll see based off of the product roadmap and continued growth process. But I think as we think about in five years, like we have a plan already to grow from 85 to 185, next year. So I know when you’re thinking about that level of growth, and just a couple years, we were seven people rewind to early 2019, January 2019, there were 70 people. And so we’ve seen just like some tremendous growth. And that’s, that’s exciting to the area, one thing that we really want to focus on is we’re able to establish Splash as a very large national player is trying to help the startup ecosystem in Cleveland, where I think we are just behind a number of other cities, we’re not behind by decades, Columbus, when I went to Ohio State and graduate in 2011, had zero startup ecosystem is thriving today. You know, you look at all the really strong companies and VC presence that Dr. Brought and other VCs that have kind of there’s opportunity for Cleveland, really to be an innovator. And we want Splash to be at the forefront of that. Ideally, creating Silicon Valley as environment in Ohio. If your pair enough, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, I think that you have some really good companies, and I’m excited for what I view the future be is where there will be a lot more attention in the Midwest, a lot more funding in the Midwest, a lot more VC attention Midwest, because I think that’s where the growth is as the valley gets tapped out of it.
Jeffrey Stern 21:38
Yeah. But one of the thematic patterns that is emerged from some of these conversations that I get to have with people here is that it seems like there’s this Catch-22 in Cleveland, and probably in any city that’s trying to, to build this entrepreneurial ecosystem, where you need to have some of those successful exits to have the kind of not risk averse capital that’s willing to make, you know, the angel investments. But in order to have that you needed some people in the first place to take a risk on the people trying to build the companies. And it seems like Splash is really kind of on the cusp of really breaking through. I’d love to hear from your perspective, really from like the company building side how you’ve been able to navigate the capital environment here. And just your perspective on that.
Steve Muszynski 22:27
Yeah, it’s a challenging capital environment in Cleveland, to be very honest. When a startup founder asked me, How should I focus on raising capital in Cleveland, my first advice is raise capital in another place. Because I don’t want to waste the time of the startup founder, you know, if you really think about it, valuations in Cleveland lag other cities, less capital more no’s, your time is valuable, I can’t even count the amount of nodes that we got going through it. And if a coin bounced a different way, you know, landed a different direction Splash might not exist. I mean, we were able to find just an awesome angel that got a group together that put in over 2 million bucks at a time where we really needed it. And we’re still trying to find the core market fit. And that’s normal. I mean, companies don’t just hit the market and have product market fit.
Jeffrey Stern 23:27
Steve Muszynski 23:27
Airbnb is now public worth, I think, like $100 billion, or around there. Based on their trading, they started out completely different. They thought that their whole thing was about community, and about having people stay at people’s houses and like, see the hosts and live with the hosts and do all this different stuff. They got turned down by investor after investor after investor , but the capital base was there. So in Cleveland, if you get turned down by investor after investor after investor, there’s no one left to go to because there are maybe only a couple investors and a few angels that play. And so I think there is this Catch-22 where funds need to be poured back into the market where there needs to be more opportunities. I think that we actually need to recruit VCs into Cleveland into the region, because I think that’s what’s missing is the actual ability to provide true intelligent growth capital. And I think we need to build the understanding that you’re investing in the team and the people as much as you are the product. And the vision of that company is important, but also where do they want to go and where they want to be? And how hard are they going to drive and it’s hard to succeed with a great idea. Many companies fail. But if you’re a really good team, and you know, you’re very driven, I would rather bet in the person that I believe in versus the idea that I believe in, because if you don’t have the person behind it, I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere. I think Cleveland looks for both and the idea is important and the person is important, but You just don’t need product market fit, there needs to be more of a runway to sort of find that to bring in the capital. And that I just don’t know if that exists here from a cultural standpoint, which is a challenge.
Jeffrey Stern 25:12
When you think about the team, you know, you just mentioned you’re looking to, from seven not too long ago to, you know, close to 200. In the near future, having kind of gone through the hiring processes myself, it’s, it’s hard to bring on quantity and have that kind of people, how are you thinking about that problem going forward,
Steve Muszynski 25:33
Trust the people that you’ve hired to hire good people, because you can’t interview all them. So as a CEO, and as a founder, you are like, it’s my company, I need to personally know everyone that’s, that’s in the company. And that’s true. I mean, you do want to do it as much as you can we at Splash do random coffee pairings every other week. So I get paired up with people that I’ve never met before, like, they’re hired to do an amazing job, I hear reports that they’re an amazing job. And I didn’t interview them, I never met them, I just signed off that it was an area for me. And so I think the trust of the team is what allows you to scale up, because the I’m one person, our CEO is one person, CTO is one person, if everyone interviewed everyone all the time, you just would never get anything done. And then the second thing is COVID has opened up our eyes that we’re going to be headquartered in Cleveland, we’re gonna hire in Cleveland, but a remote culture is here to say, we had employee poached by Amazon, that didn’t happen before, like this was higher than right, you know, if we are not also looking at employees in Seattle, and California, Denver, New York, Boston, Chicago, you’re gonna have problems with big companies poaching talent in Cleveland. And you’re gonna have a hard time scaling. So there are things like engineering where our CTO and Chief Product officer we recruited from guaranty rate mortgage, largest mortgage originator in the country based in Chicago, he’s based in Chicago, because he was the best person for the job and an amazing add to our team. And he’s helped us recruit really strong talents. So it’s really just trusting the team bringing on really strong leaders and then recruiting from there. And that’s what I’ve learned over time, because I, the more I’m involved in slower codes, it’s just the truth.
Jeffrey Stern 27:28
Yeah, it’s very exciting, though. I think it’s, it’s a really could be very, very cool. I think for for the city, to have that kind of company and that kind of growth, to be a part of it. I feel like that’s often what, just from my perspective had had been missing is, you know, you need some companies in the region that are gonna keep the graduates and talent here. And instead of being poached to New York, or SF or Seattle.
Steve Muszynski 27:54
Yeah. And we need to form a stronger ecosystem, because there isn’t a common funding source like not really there’s Johnstone, there’s North Coast, but there’s no real high growth, like top VC funding, you know, arm that connects people with a core growth, mission and understanding like what everybody’s going through, but out of Africa and rvshare, you know, has seen just rapid growth. So recently, they raised giant round. And now that that’s totally doable to create this greater Cleveland ecosystem, because I kind of would want to bring into that to try to, you know, pour money into the general region. But companies are here. I mean, they’re really smart people working on really difficult things. I actually think the startup that you’re at previously, I mean, with blockchain voting, that will be a thing. In the future.
Jeffrey Stern 28:50
I wish our competitors all the best.
Steve Muszynski 28:53
Yeah, you know, and so it’s just with different funding, different opportunity. Maybe that would have been different. And maybe that company could have been a dominant player. You know, it’s always it’s a lot of gifts. But the point is that, to build the best ecosystem, you have to have the best funding app to have like, a really strong support system. And we’re not, we’re not the worst, like Cleveland has some, but it’s also not at the level that I think is expected to actually be able to grow that level.
Jeffrey Stern 29:26
I want to bring it back to the problem Splash is working on for a second one of the rabbit holes I’ve fallen down over the last year is this idea of cost of season and you mentioned that the really the the cost of education has just gone up to a degree that astonishes parents and people and they they actually look at the rate at which it’s increased. And you have this cycle where the goal of the universities are education and some some signal of status, where they can raise and subsequently spend virtually unlimited amount of money and in pursuit of those two goals, and so the cumulative effect is just like a ratchet of cost increases, and it it doesn’t seem to have like, an end necessarily and insight. And, you know, from that perspective, maybe that’s actually a good, you know, prospect for Splash in some regards. But how do you think, and how is Splash approaching the more like root cause of some of the the problem in this space? Or is it you know, two to 10? tangential and not directly related?
Steve Muszynski 30:35
Yeah, I mean, I’ll give you my thoughts about the challenges and sort of what’s what’s happening. And then we can deal with, you know, what a slash are doing related to it. cost of education unsustained, like the increases, I actually do think it’s near a tipping point, I think COVID accelerated trends dramatically. You see, it’s a supply and demand equation, if you have unlimited demands, you know, and colleges can’t fill that they have limited capacity, raise the rate, you know, prices. And you know, that people can pay for the prices, because there’s unlimited funding from the government to fund those people going to college, and it creates sort of this, these challenges. That’s one thing that’s been driving up the cost of education. And you also, like you mentioned, have a bit of an arms race going on, where, whether its prestige, whether it’s best campus, the best dining hall, the best gym, you know, it’s I went to Ohio State, they just had invested in the new our pack, which is like, amazing, gym, workout facility, everything you’d ever want. The reality is we lived in a resort, like we went to school there, but it was a resort, it was everything that you could need best facilities best, everything. And when our parents went to school, it wasn’t like that. And so that’s part of the rising cost of education is sort of the combined elements of just like the aren’t college arms race, with government able to fund it through student loans and colleges, knowing that people are going to pay for it. There are other elements where colleges don’t get the same level of state funding anymore. Government funding grants, the Pell Grants, which is really like a low income grants that people get for college to reduce the overall cost for them hasn’t been increased in years, you know, like, and so it used to cover a sizable portion of or a significant portion of education. Now, it’s very, very little. And so there are other elements where government funding also hasn’t kept up with it as it’s been shifted to other things, the government’s focused on how Splash thinks about it is no one company can solve every problem. There are other companies trying to solve things like you mentioned, income share agreements. I personally don’t believe in income share agreements, I think it’s indentured servitude. Now I’ll, people will hear me say that, and I’m gonna get slammed by friends that are running income share agreement companies, but like, the mission is right, the mission is to get people with to have less debt. The problem is that you end up with adverse selection, people that are very high growth, like, I’m going to go into investment banking, I’m going to go into consulting, they’re never going to sign up for an income shirking because their income potential is too large. People that sign up for income share agreements are the ones that are going to go into low income fields, or take time off or do all these other things, which is good for a debt perspective. But it means that the income share agreements, I think, are unlikely to stick around in their current format, it looks more likely as trying to tie the college to click things like graduation rate, debt, spirals, other things like that. So that like they actually have a reason to try to reduce the cost of education or at least tighten, if they’re not going to get the same level of government loan support, if they have certain debt levels, or if they have people that aren’t able to repay their loans or various other elements, you’re going to have colleges think twice about their cost structure. But I do think that that COVID accelerated stuff with with online learning, I think that that’s going to be the thing that really changes the system for all consumer behavior. It doesn’t take that much to change, how people actually do things and COVID a year of doing it a certain way. That’s why colleges were forcing people to go back to college because they knew if they ever put them back online, they would have a completely different cost structure completely different expectation and people.
Jeffrey Stern 34:37
Steve Muszynski 34:37
But a lot of college were forced to do that. And a lot of people defer go into college without having the normal experience. And then they’re doing digital learning and things like that.
Jeffrey Stern 34:45
Yeah, it’s anecdotal, but my my youngest brother is a sophomore in college. And I guess there’s this meme going around on the internet where it was essentially a picture of all the streaming services annual costs about $100 a year and then is you know, big name, you know, Ivy League University, for for zoom is $50,000 a year, it’s like, what you’re paying for is not purely the educational experience, it’s become abundantly clear over the last nine months.
Steve Muszynski 35:16
Yeah. And you’ll also, I think there’s potential, what see what passes under a Biden administration. But both Biden and Obama push for free community college, Biden wants to take that to the next level to have dramatic reduction in cost of public universities. I don’t know if they’re ever gonna be debt free public college push through congress, but they want to increase Pell Grants and other things. So I think there is potential that Biden administration will recognize the cost of education is out of control and trying to make that, essentially, that is the illness. That is the symptom. Right? So like, you treat the illness, and then you figure out, if that’s gonna solve, like, okay, the symptoms are gonna go away, if you treat the illness.
Jeffrey Stern 36:09
Steve Muszynski 36:10
The problem with the whole debt forgiveness community, is that, that doesn’t solve the illness. You’re growing debt at over $100 billion a year. So in 10 years, you’re gonna try those? Great. Are we just gonna do this, again, forgive all the debt, you got to try to figure out what the actual challenges are addressed those, then you can solve the things on the back end of what’s happening. I just don’t see enough of that currently, in the political landscape. Whether you’re republican democrat doesn’t really matter. I mean, everyone will understand cost of education right now is crazy. Yeah. And so I think that’s something that needs to be solved.
Jeffrey Stern 36:52
Yeah. Well, I am. I’m excited to learn and hear about the the growth and success that you guys are having. I didn’t even actually realize it to the degree that that’s actually happening. So that is awesome. Definitely rooting for you guys.
Steve Muszynski 37:08
Appreciate it. Yeah.
Jeffrey Stern 37:09
Yeah. To kind of close it out here. totally unrelated to student debt. Fan, over the course of these conversations, just painting a picture of people’s favorite or or hidden gems in Cleveland, what is yours?
Steve Muszynski 37:24
I would probably say Jinko restaurant, if you’ve ever been there, it’s a sushi restaurant below, Dante and Trimont. Awesome. It’s a great environment, you kind of feel like you’re in a different place. I don’t think there’s another thing like in Cleveland from a restaurant atmosphere standpoint, unfortunately, haven’t been able to go there in a long time. But have ordered it in a few times. Yeah, I definitely think that’s a very hidden gem. And if you haven’t been there, you should go.
Jeffrey Stern 38:00
Check it out. Yeah, I’ve been tons of takeout the last last few months here. Gotta keep the restaurants around. Well, if if, if people have any questions or things that they would want to follow up with you about where’s the best place for for them to reach you Steve.
Steve Muszynski 38:15
Yeah, people can just shoot me an email, email@example.com
Jeffrey Stern 38:21
Sweet, but really appreciate you coming on the show today and sharing your story. And again, I’m really pumped for what you guys are working on and excited to follow along.
Steve Muszynski 38:32
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having.
Jeffrey Stern 38:34
That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s show. So shoot us an email at lay firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter @PodLayOfTheLand, @thetagan or @sternJefe
. We’ll be back here next week at the same time to map more of the land. If you or someone you know would make a good guest for our show, please email us or find us on Twitter and let us know. And if you love our show, please leave a review on iTunes that goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Tagan Horton and Jeffrey Stern develop the Lay of the Land podcast in collaboration with the Up company LLC. At the time of this recording, we do not own equity or other financial interests in the companies which appear on the show unless otherwise indicated. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of founders get funds and its affiliates or actual and its affiliates, or any entity which employs us. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation, nor provided any investment advice on this show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
This week we’re hosting an upside feed takeover from Lay of The Land! Lay of The Land is a podcast covering the Cleveland business ecosystem on the upside podcast network. And in this episode, Jeff talks with Steve Muszynski, the founder and CEO of Splash Financial.
Jeff and Steve discuss the student loan crisis and how Splash, one of Ohio’s fastest growing companies, is helping people save on their student loan debt.
Status Quo for Student Loans 6:34
Coming up with Splash Financial 8:12
Progress amidst the current situation 13:12
Loan Forgiveness 15:53
Think about growth 18:32
Starting in Cleveland 21:38
Hiring employees 25:12
Challenges for Splash 29:26
Splash Financial was founded in 2015 and based in Cleveland, Ohio.
This episode of upside is sponsored by Ethos Wealth Management. Managing wealth with an eye toward the future demands vigilance and skill in today’s global economy. Over the years, Ethos Wealth Management has worked with clients and their other professional advisors – including attorneys and accountants – to create comprehensive wealth management plans designed to make the best use of their wealth today and help ensure its endurance for future generations.
They can do the same for you.
Visit upside.fm/ethos to learn more.
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