For the seventh stop of the nationwide Shark Tank Diversity Tour, the casting team for ABC’s “Shark Tank” visited Houston, where entrepreneurs pitched their business concepts at the 2017 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit. Here, Brandon Andrews engaged in a Q&A session with entrepreneurs at the casting call, and the organizations that support them, including Kiley Summers, founder and CEO of SpenDebt.
Shark Tank Cast (Photo: ABC Television Group)
Brandon Andrews: There’s a serious student debt problem. SpenDebt is addressing it. What’s the story?
Kiley Summers: Student loan debt is definitely a real problem for 43 million people in America. In fact, 63% of student loan borrowers are not making payments on time and not reducing their loan balances. There is a total of $137 billion in delinquency owed by 8 million people. To provide more statistics, the average undergraduate person graduates with roughly $38,000 of student loan debt, while graduates graduate with roughly $58,000.
SpenDebt CEO Kiley Summers (Photo: SpenDebt)
In 2007, I graduated with about $30,000 of student loan debt. I understand the pain of many Americans. I hired and counseled with my financial adviser, and he introduced me to Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method. The steps introduced through the debt snowball method helped me build the foundation of my financial house. Now let’s fast forward, in 2015 my wife and I were able to become debt-free. We paid off our student loans and other consumer debt. While celebrating our success and sharing our story, we found many people close to us were drowning in debt. They were enjoying life, as we were, entertaining, going out to eat, vacationing, etc., but the main difference was that we had become debt-free.
As an engineer, I’m always thinking of solutions, but God planted this idea in me to help those around me; hence SpenDebt was born. SpenDebt is a financial technology company providing a micro-payment debt solution to help consumers reduce their debt as they spend. The website application enables consumers to apply a micropayment (i.e. $1) toward repaying a debt every time a purchase is made. As users spend, the specified amount is added to the purchase and then directly applied toward a debt, such as student loans.