Upstart — the definition of mission-driven founders and startup.
Today the team at Upstart achieved a huge milestone — their Initial Public Offering — now listed on NASDAQ @ UPST. An IPO is just a financing event in the journey of a mission-driven company like Upstart — but it is a unique moment to take stock of amazing progress in a short period of time by a world-class team. My first and second posts on Upstart from 2012 are here and here.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of the incredible journey @ Upstart as Founding BOD Member for 8 years from January 2012 thru December 2019. When Dave, Anna & Paul came together to start Upstart — their ambitions were no less than to revolutionize how credit works — especially for under-served borrowers such as people in their ‘20’s.
At the core of the mission at Upstart was the fundamental need to create a method that was significantly better than traditional credit scoring systems and use AI to enable vast improvements in credit decision-making. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the potential for AI in the credit industry went way beyond automation and better scoring. As the team worked hard to prove the value of AI and better credit scoring they realized a tremendous opportunity — that using AI and automation could serve as a contrast to the vast unconscious bias in the credit industry.
Removing bias from credit is not only just the right thing to do — it turned out to be a GREAT business as there were huge numbers of potential borrowers that were being overlooked and under-served by existing systems and methods. Upstarts’ strategy to work closely with existing banks will ensure that all banks will be able to provide less biased and more profitable credit. Upstart defines the principle that it’s possible to do good while building a great business.
I started my career in the mid 1980s working on AI projects while at Bowdoin College. It is incredibly rewarding and I feel truly honored to have been a part of the journey with Dave, Anna, Paul and the entire team at Upstart as they apply AI and Machine Learning methods to revolutionizing credit. Today represents a huge milestone but in some ways — just the first step to fulfill the mission and vision of one of the best startup teams in the world.