Upstart is an AI lending platform that partners with banks and credit unions to provide consumer loans using non-traditional variables, such as education and employment, to predict creditworthiness.
The founding team includes Dave Girouard, former President of Enterprise Google, Paul Gu, a Thiel Fellow, and Anna Counselman, former Manager of Global Enterprise Customer Programs and Gmail Consumer Operations at Google.
Upstart first launched in April 2012 with an Income Share Agreement product, which enabled individuals to raise money by contracting to share a percent of their future income. In May 2014, Upstart pivoted away from this product and toward the personal loan marketplace. With this pivot, Upstart began offering a traditional 3-year loan, and has since expanded to offer a 5-year loan product as well.
Upstart developed an income and default prediction model to determine creditworthiness of a potential borrower. This means that in addition to traditional underwriting criteria—FICO score, credit report, and income—the Upstart underwriting considers education variables—colleges attended, area of study, GPA, and standardized test scores— and work history to develop a statistical model of the borrower's financial capacity and personal propensity to repay.
Upstart raised a $1.75M seed round from First Round Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures, Crunchfund and Mark Cuban. They subsequently raised a series A round of $5.9M which included new investors Eric Schmidt, Marc Benioff, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, and Collaborative Fund. Upstart raised a Series C round of $35M from Third Point Capital in June 2015, and $32.5M from Rakuten in 2017. Upstart raised a Series D round of $50M from The Progressive Corporation in 2019.