Section: Features

Alumnus promotes financial startup to help college students

Alumnus promotes financial startup to help college students

COURTESY OF SAM LIPSCOMB ’19

Sam Lipscomb ’19 and the company he works at want to be the “financial ally of young adults.” The company, Fizz, is a startup that provides debit cards for college students that can be used to build credit without fees, interest or overspending. Lipscomb and his co-workers are fostering stress-free financial responsibility among young people, and are advertising their services to Kenyon students. 

In an interview with the Collegian, Lipscomb explained the company’s motivation: “[The] co-founders, all three of them, saw an underserved population of college students who weren’t building credit and were feeling the effects of that while in college but especially after graduation.” He enumerated the many harms that a low credit score — or no credit score — can bring young adults, including getting rejected for jobs, having difficulty being approved for apartment and car loans and paying very high loan interest rates. In an effort to mitigate this problem, the co-founders of Fizz decided to develop their product, which is a “debit card for college students that helps you build your credit but without any of the negative effects of what typical credit cards [offer],” including unnecessary fees and high interest rates. 

 Before becoming involved with Fizz, Lipscomb was an economics major at Kenyon. He expressed appreciation for the liberal arts education he received, which enabled him to dabble in disciplines outside of economics, like political science. After graduating in 2019, Lipscomb knew he wanted to work in the startup world. “It seemed dynamic and like the type of place where you can wear a lot of hats and learn a lot.” After two and a half years at another company, Lipscomb said he began to feel “pigeonholed” into a role that was not as mutable as he would have liked, which led him to search for a new job. “Fizz immediately stood out to me because of the mission of the company,” he said. He started out as a contractor for the company before joining the team for a full-time position where he helped to build the company’s waitlist and launch the product, which became available to the public a few weeks ago. 

Though his official title is “Head of Content,” Lipscomb carries out many roles for the company. “I think a friend of mine put it really well the other day, which is that [I’m] really the voice of the company. So when we have podcast features, for example, I’ll go on there and I’ll talk about what it is we do and why we’re here to help.” Because Fizz is such a small company — made up of just eight people — Lipscomb’s responsibilities span from content to advertising to advising on the layout of the Fizz app. He said that his duties also include “a bit of product management on the notification side,” meaning deciding on the language of notifications from the Fizz app and coordinating with co-workers to put them together.

Lipscomb credits his Kenyon education for enabling him to be versatile and creative in his job. “It’s a little bit of a played-out way of saying it, but I really just think that the Kenyon education helps you think critically in every scenario,” he said. “It’s really beneficial because I always think that you gain so much by getting input from so many different places, and from bringing the kind of attitude of ‘I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room.’ Everyone here knows something that I don’t and has some sort of input that is going to be helpful. And I definitely think that Kenyon was a massive contributor to that type of mindset that I bring to work every day.”

On the subject of advice for young people, including Kenyon students who may be beginning their financial journeys, Lipscomb had one recommendation: “Getting started building credit early is really important.” He stressed how beneficial a good credit score can be, helping young people to get mortgages and jobs later in life. “Just getting started thinking about money is half the battle because there’s just too many people out there who wait until they are way too old to even start to think about these things. It doesn’t have to be scary, and the way to make it the least amount of scary is to get started early and do your research.”

1 Comment

Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at collegian@kenyon.edu.