We asked Ankur Jain from Kairos headquarters 20 questions about money


Millennials tend to have a bad reputation when it comes to money. You’ve heard the tired old lines on avocado toast that conveniently ignore factors like stagnant wages, rising costs of living, and an unprecedented student debt crisis. This is a generation that entered the workforce following a 2008 financial crisis (that it played no part in the cause) and never had the chance to build the nuggets that enjoyed the previous generations. Meanwhile, millennials continue to contribute to Social Security despite how little confidence they will have in it once they retire.

Needless to say, these grim realities speak only of people’s increased need for financial literacy. You literally can’t afford to be careless with your money, so you would be smart to do whatever you can to get your hard earned money going.

Ankur Jain understands this, which is why the 31-year-old co-founder and CEO of Kairos HQ focused on building a portfolio of companies that make life more affordable when it comes to spending such as health care and childcare. His latest project, Bilt, targets housing. According to the US Census Bureau, more than a third of Americans are currently renters.

“Rent is our biggest expense … and it doesn’t bring you any closer to home ownership,” Jain explains.

Bilt is the first credit card and rewards program that lets you earn points on rent free of charge, and Jain believes it can help pave the way for homeownership by allowing consumers to earn. rewards like air points and money for fitness classes like Y7 and SoulCycle. , and even accumulate credits for a future mortgage.

As someone who has done their fair share of smart financial moves, we’ve teamed up with Jain for his best advice on managing money, using entrepreneurship to solve problems, and what we can do. do to close the wealth gap.


What motivated you to become an entrepreneur in the first place?

I didn’t want to become an entrepreneur. It started with just wanting to fix the issues I was facing on my own. I accidentally started my first business at the age of 11 after buying my first cell phone. It was so hard to text people using T9 (yes, I’m getting old now) that I learned to code and build a service where you could text your friends’ phones, right from your browser Web or AIM. It ended up spreading like wildfire and at one point nearly 2 million people had used it!

Your businesses are focused on solving social problems. What do you think is the most pressing social issue right now?

The fact that life keeps getting more expensive, but as a generation we keep getting less. Housing costs more, but we have less space. Health care is getting more expensive, but we are getting poorer care. These are problems that can be solved by innovation.

What’s a misconception about millennials that is really bothering you?

That we are not “financially responsible”. I believe our generation is really good at making the most of a difficult situation. We’ve been pushed into mountains of student debt and entered tough job markets and record rents. Despite this, we manage to find ways to live our lives while paying the bills. This idea that buying “avocado toast” for breakfast suddenly makes us “spoiled” is absurd.

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Let’s say I just graduated from college and am self-employed for the first time in my life. What are your tips for the first steps I should take to manage my personal finances?

Make sure you start building credit early. This will save you thousands of dollars over the years, and not just on loans. For example, it can help you qualify for apartments with a much lower required reserve.

What’s your last life-changing purchase?

The tread of the peloton. Along with the long hours at work, having this at home has been a lifeline in terms of time to train during the week.

What’s the last book you read that challenged a preconceived idea?

Never divide the difference: negotiate as if life depends on it by Chris Voss.

Who is a lesser-known entrepreneur who inspired you?

Ben Marathapu, one of our partners at Cera (Britain’s leading healthcare technology company) who is so sincere about the evolution of healthcare but proves it can be a great business opportunity.

Are there any resources you would recommend to newbies when it comes to learning more about personal finance?

The Points Guy is a great resource for learning how to make smart decisions when it comes to choosing a credit card and maximizing your benefits. There is so much you can do with all of these stitches. The @KairosHQ Instagram is also a place where we share personal finance content and memes that resonate with our generation.

What purchase do you really regret making?

Every dollar I spent renting in San Francisco.

What are some of the issues you see with the current home buying experience?

The whole process is opaque and confusing. It’s hard to know how much you can actually afford, how much you should be putting in, what a good interest rate is, or how much of a deal you are getting on the house. Not to mention the fact that it’s so hard to save for a down payment when you spend all your money on rent each month.

To that end, what are some of the issues you see with the current tenant experience?

Rent is our biggest expense. And yet, 80% of rents are still paid by check or cash. Paying on time doesn’t build our credit history, although it does hurt our credit score if you don’t pay on time. And leasing doesn’t bring you any closer to home ownership.

Inequality of wealth is an existential problem facing our country. What do we need to do to close the gap?

Historically, access to homeownership has been the main driver of wealth creation. It’s the only form of leveraged capital that most people will own on this scale – and it’s only possible with government support. We need to make sure that more of our generation are able to find their way into homeownership, or the inequalities will get even worse, as a small fraction of millennials own homes that are worth more than a few. accumulates while others live paycheck to paycheck.

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How do you think money (having it and not having it) affects mental health?

As if life doesn’t have enough to be anxious about, worrying about making your bills every month can have a serious impact on mental health. If we can help people take care of the essentials, then we can take that stress out and give people a chance to move forward. This is why the stimulus checks have had such a significant impact on how people are going through the Covid crisis.

In 10 years, what do you think will be the biggest innovation?

CRISPR is and will continue to change healthcare forever. As CRISPR progresses, we will be able to modify our own DNA so that we can finally fight so many chronic diseases that are unsolvable to date.

There is a great deal of disillusionment right now, both among government people and people in the financial sector. How to overcome this disillusion?

The rhetoric in large institutions and governments has become so toxic and polarizing that it’s no wonder people have lost confidence. The needs of the vast majority of us are drowned out by loud voices in the extreme. We need these institutions to start putting ordinary people first. We need them to be transparent. And just to find common sense solutions to the things that really matter. Not just what gives them another PR hit or a viral tweet …

What’s the one thing money can’t buy?

Trust.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Check my phone.

What’s the last thing you do before going to bed?

Kiss my girlfriend good night.

What is your personal mantra or motto?

Do things by the book. Just be the author.

How would you define “strength”?

Persistence until success. Don’t let ‘no’ stop you from doing the things that matter.

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