September 23, 2021
Miami entrepreneur Evan Leaphart wants to teach kids about credit scores and finance — with a bigger mission in mind

Photo: Nick Garcia

Next Gen

Miami entrepreneur Evan Leaphart wants to teach kids about credit scores and finance — with a bigger mission in mind

Nancy Dahlberg | 6/29/2021

The Entrepreneur

EVAN LEAPHART, 35, Miami

The Concept

Kiddie Kredit is a chore-tracking app that teaches children about credit. A parent assigns chores — like “make my bed” or “clean up my room” — and registers them in the app. As the child completes the chores, the child’s Kredit Score improves over time. A missed chore, like a missed credit card payment, lowers the child’s score. Staying on schedule with chores — as with credit card payments — raises the score. Kids earn "Bamboo Bucks" that they can redeem for rewards set by the parents. In the future, the rewards may be redeemed on the site.

Epiphany

Realizing the importance of credit. “A lot of the business ideas I had never really got legs because I made so many mistakes early on with my credit. I was unable to get a business loan or line of credit. I really had no idea what went into a good credit score. And I didn't know how you could leverage it as a tool to generate wealth.”

Knowing the Score

Nearly four of every 10 Americans “have no idea" how their credit scores are determined, according to a 2019 survey by Lendingtree. The interest on a car loan for someone with excellent credit averages 3.23%, according to Experian. With poor credit, the same car loan could cost up to 11.35%. A report by the Brookings Institution found that teenage financial literacy is positively correlated with asset accumulation and net worth by age 25.

The Business Plan: Kiddie Kredit is an app for families, but Leaphart also partners with organizations and municipalities looking for ways to engage their intended audiences. So far, Equifax and the YMCA have signed on as partners, and the idea is for the organizations to provide revenue to Kiddie Kredit in exchange for premium features in the app — for example, the opportunity to get rewards for completing a game-type lesson in financial literacy or a special reward for a chore well done. Kiddie Kredit could even provide versions the sponsors would distribute to their constituents. The Kiddie Kredit app is geared to kids 4 to 12, but Leaphart’s team is building out a product for teens and firsttime borrowers that will likely involve a “learning journey” about credit that will enable the user to receive approval for a credit card. Leaphart wants companies and non-profits to provide revenue and perks so the products can stay free for lower-income families.

The app is currently free (available on Apple and Android), and thanks to the new B2B partnerships, Leaphart says Kiddie Kredit will be generating revenue for the first time this year.

Education: One year at Florida International University

Making Ends Meet: After quitting college, Leaphart sold cable services, timeshares and cruises, and marketed large events — sometimes making close to six figures. “I was always the youngest on the team. I couldn’t go to happy hours with my co-workers.”

No Overnight Success: He started a cleaning company that he marketed to Airbnb owners. He tried selling tailored dress shirts. Nothing paid off, and Leaphart hit a low point, sleeping on a friend’s couch for a few months. “I always felt that with sales and entrepreneurship I could create the amount of money that I would like to have, but in terms of maintaining it, I didn’t have that sort of foresight. I didn’t have a plan.”

Background: Leaphart was born in Pittsburgh, grew up in Columbia, Md., raised by a single mother who worked as a flight attendant but always had side businesses. He moved to Miami to go to college.

Skills: At 14, he built his own computer because he wanted to have a faster CD burner to use for mixing and making music CDs that he sold to friends and school mates.

Instincts: Leaphart progressed from lemonade stands and helping his mom make gift baskets to custom tailoring and selling telephone cords, cordless phones and other electronics on eBay. In high school, he also took on telemarketing jobs selling Comcast cable and Verizon DSL services.

Help and Advice: When he’d saved enough to work on Kiddie Kredit full time, Leaphart took part in the Miami EdTech startup accelerator program. He began building a team, including a man who started a popular financial literacy blog on building black wealth and another who was skilled in technology. They built and launched the Kiddie Kredit app in 2018.

Funding: Startup life included running a crowdfunding campaign in 2020 that raised $75,000 for his business before Leaphart pitched it to other investors, which he is doing now. To market the business, Leaphart sent an executive summary of Kiddie Kredit to credit bureau company Equifax. With no contact information for the company’s executives, he used the “contact us” form on the Equifax website. Somehow it got forwarded to the president, Leaphart says. To his surprise, Equifax Foundation came on board. Other organizations followed, and he is looking for other partners, including non-profits, financial planners and credit card companies. For now, Kiddie Kredit is focused on studying how kids and parents use the app — more than 5,000 families so far — and incorporating their feedback into improvements before making a big marketing push.

Ultimate Goal: Narrowing the wealth gap between minority communities and others.

 

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