We met up with Co-Founder Shirish Lal and asked him a few questions. Learn more about Grit Financial and why we are so passionate about this financial service.
Q: What’s your title?
A: Chief Operating Officer, Grit Financial
Q: Give us some details about your journey as an entrepreneur.
A: I have spent most of my career working in existing organizations across a variety of industries. This is my first true startup (though the 5th for Almaz, Grit’s other co-founder).
Q: What’s your niche, and why should someone choose Grit over competitors?
A: We are the only company paying our customers to get paid early. We are the only company offering Free Payroll Advances PLUS 3% APY Interest PLUS 0.5% Cashback on Debit Card Purchases. On top of that, we are adding key features such as viewing your credit score and reporting rent and utility payments to improve your credit score. Most of our customers are charging customers fees that translate to 50%+ interest to access their wages early.
We have done a lot more technical heavy lifting to build a platform with a fundamentally lower cost structure and a greater ability to add features.
Q: What are the three things that mostly helped Grit succeed?
A: We have a great mission focused on our target customer: Working Americans. We ask ourselves daily how to make the right tradeoffs for our target customers.
We spent a lot of time focusing on our platform, which has put us in a position to offer a superior value proposition. We have brought in people who are passionate about our mission.
Q: What are your three biggest accomplishments?
A: Getting our platform launched, which not only required a lot of heavy lifting technically but also building partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, including VISA, NCR, Corecard, CFSB, Persona, Jack Henry, etc.
We put a lot of focus on supporting teachers and are growing in this segment.
We have also built partnerships with major employers such as YUM! Brands which has been critical to the company’s development.
Q: What were some of your most important challenges?
A: Attracting the right partners for the platform we were trying to build and finding key customer segments that would benefit from Grit’s services.
Q: How did you overcome those challenges?
A: Our partners were most attracted to our previous track record of success and the focused approach we had to Grit.
In finding the customer segments, we did research and spoke to many different types of customers before really understanding who would benefit from Grit’s services.
Q: What’s your advice for readers who want to achieve wealth and success in life?
A: You have to be constantly building for the future. Your best investment is in yourself. Have a target for where you would like to be and develop a plan to get there. No matter how far off it may seem, there are steps you could be taking now by surrounding yourself with the right people to learn from. You have to be continually learning and growing your skills.
My last piece of advice is to do something (employable, not a hobby) that you truly love. That makes the process of constant growth so much easier.
Q: What do you think is the key to a truly successful business?
A: Great mission and great people. A great mission will create a much deeper intrinsic motivation and make it so much easier to attract great people.
Q: What’s your business model? How does your business make money?
A: We primarily make money through Interchange fees which are the fees charged to Merchants by VISA when our customers make debit card purchases.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
A: We expect to have a large customer base and change how people think about financial services.
We are using the power of technology to provide a service that would have been inconceivable ten years ago—paying our customers to get paid early.
Q: What’s your advice for people who want to quit their 9 to 5 job and start a business?
A: You must be prepared for many things you do not experience in a 9 to 5 job. You have customers that you must answer to every day. There is a degree of uncertainty that is unknown in large organizations. You should not go into it just because you do not like your job. You must be passionate about the business and realistic that it is a fit for you and your family.
Q: What’s your piece of advice for people who want to reach financial freedom?
A: There is no substitute for saving and investing and doing it early. People who own homes have 50x the net worth of renters by the time they are 55.
The average stock market return from 1973 to 2023 was 13,965%! In other words, if you invest $10,000 in 1973 in the stock market, it would be worth $1.39M on average.
Financial Freedom starts with keeping a lifestyle that allows you to save, invest, and build credit early in life while focusing on growing your work skills. Once you start down this path, you build momentum as you grow older.
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