First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nirit Rubenstein: We are doing great, considering the circumstances. This is a difficult time for everyone, but I am grateful that we are all healthy, and nobody from our teams or families have gotten sick.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Dovly
Nirit Rubenstein: Tedis and I – the two co-founders of Dovly – both come from immigrant families that migrated to America when we were young children. Our parents made sacrifices to provide better lives and more opportunities for us. We witnessed first-hand the financial struggles our parents faced upon entering the US. Not being able to rent an apartment, buy or lease a car, or get a credit card because they didn’t have good credit was debilitating for our families. We want to help people who have similar struggles.
We decided to found Dovly because we had the business skills and subject matter expertise to do it.
I spent the last 20 years of my career in leadership positions at both public and private enterprises, including Salesforce.com, Green Dot Corporation, Del Monte Foods (now Big Heart Pet Brands), and most recently as Chief Operating Officer of telecommunications provider Nextiva, Inc. Tedis Baboumian has spent the last 20 years operating Rapid Credit Reports (RCR), an independent credit reporting agency, developing extensive practical expertise in matters relating to credit reporting, regulatory compliance, information security, and fraud mitigation.
Financial security should be available to everyone – not just the wealthy few. We want to free people from the burdens of financial instability and provide them with choices. And we want to do it in a way that is cost-effective for them. We want our service to be accessible to everyone, which is why we focused on an automated solution that can scale.
How does Dovly innovate?
Nirit Rubenstein: The main way we innovate is by cultivating a team culture that questions the status quo and strives for positive change.
Every member of the team is dedicated to our mission. We are constantly testing, iterating, measuring, re-testing, reiterating. We will not be satisfied until the economic opportunity is available to all Americans.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business, and how are you coping?
Nirit Rubenstein: The pandemic accentuated the financial pressures on our target customer base of low-middle income consumers.
We responded by accelerating the development and launch of Dovly Starter – a low-cost service meant to accommodate the most cash-constrained individuals. This product featured prominently in our roadmap for 2022, but we reprioritized it to meet the demand spurred by the pandemic. We knew it was more important than ever before to offer consumers an affordable solution for credit restoration. In the current environment, we have an even larger responsibility to help people regain control of their finances.
What difficult choices did you make? What lessons did you learn?
Nirit Rubenstein: The most difficult choice was promoting a product that generates significantly less revenue per unit at a time when access to capital was restricted. Ironically, this pivot opened the door to new commercial opportunities that were not previously viable. An important lesson has been to remind us that we can succeed when we respond quickly to new market developments, even if it requires us to unwind prior strategies.
Speed is the lifeblood of innovation and progress in a technology-driven business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Nirit Rubenstein: First of all, so that I can keep it in perspective, I remind myself that a degree of stress and impatience actually drives me to excel. Second, I make sure to break away from the business each day, taking time to exercise and to spend uninterrupted time with my husband and children.
Where do you want to be with your business in five years?
Nirit Rubenstein: In five years, we want Dovly to be a widely recognized brand, one that is known as a consumer advocate and innovator – and valued at over $1B!
What advice would you give to someone planning to start their own business?
Nirit Rubenstein: The following is my advice.
· Don’t let perfect get in the way of speed.
· Find a co-founder that shares your passion and your sense of urgency.
· Build a team possessing skills and experience that you don’t have as co-founders.
· There is never a good time to start – just go for it. Be committed.
· Don’t listen to people telling you not to do it.
· Your time is valuable — don’t go too far with partners or investors that aren’t serious about or truly capable of helping you advance your business objectives.
Your final thoughts?
Nirit Rubenstein: We are grateful that we have not only survived the pandemic but have grown and thrived despite the challenges. We look forward to bringing millions of Americans along with us on the path to financial freedom.
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