Interview With Nirit Rubenstein
Describe your product or service:
“Dovly is an advanced credit repair engine that tracks, manages, and fixes your credit. Dovly's fully automated technology enables customers to get ahead financially by leveraging credit intelligence to repair credit scores.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Dovly is on a mission to empower everyone to get ahead financially. We seek to level the playing field by making our services affordable and accessible to anyone who needs it,” said Rubenstein. “92% of our users improve their score by an average of 54 points in less than six months. Some users have boosted scores over 100 points, opening doors to financial products that were never available to them before.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“23 employees (a year ago we were only 10!)”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“When Nirit Rubenstein first met Tedis Baboumian, they immediately struck up a friendship over their shared experiences as immigrants and military veterans. Both had families who had financially struggled upon their arrival in the US. This struggle was amplified further by how hard it was to qualify for loans.
‘We witnessed firsthand how lack of access to credit impacted our lives in serious ways. Our parents couldn’t even rent an apartment,’ said Rubenstein.
In 2018, Rubenstein and Baboumian launched Dovly, a credit repair service that offers credit monitoring and ways to improve a credit score.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“When I was still holding my corporate job, I was introduced to an executive coach, someone who has since become a close and trusted friend. When we began discussing my professional situation, she quickly diagnosed the mismatch between my career path and my personal aspirations. She laid bare what I probably knew all along but had been reluctant to admit — that I could only be satisfied as an entrepreneur. I had let the trappings of a good job — compensation, stature, security — suppress the ambition to do something for myself. Something where I was the agent of my potential, where win or lose, I would be able to hold the person in the mirror accountable. No finger-pointing, no excuses. My coach helped me understand that I needed this autonomy to really be satisfied … even if it meant unlatching the safety net of my corporate career.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Haha a Fiverr designer thought about it.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“The COVID-19 pandemic threw a curveball our way. So many people had their lives disrupted — especially their financial lives. Access to credit became more important than ever before. We couldn’t continue to operate our business as if nothing had changed. So, last year we redoubled our efforts to make credit restoration more affordable and accessible, beginning with a new, slimmed-down product offering called Dovly Starter. This product allowed people to address flaws on their credit for under $10/month — an unprecedented new marker for affordability. Starter quickly became a meaningful lifeline for thousands of people. Now we’ve gone a step further with the launch of Dovly Free, the first intelligent repair solution accessible for no cost whatsoever.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Anyone in need of credit repair (70% of the US population).”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Promoting our free plan.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Partnering with some big B2B companies that believed in us (MoneyLion, Chime).”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“User growth, retention, engagement, revenue”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“The lean startup”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“How I built this”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I used to be one of the women who refused to make an issue of my gender. Yes, I intuitively understood that women had it harder, that we needed to outperform our male peers to get a fair shot, but I didn’t see virtue in playing the victim. It just felt like weakness to me. However, that changed a bit when I first tried to raise investment capital for Dovly.
While I struggled, I saw how checks were getting written for men who hadn’t come close to matching my level of achievement. It seems to me now that the men’s club is a real thing. It’s fundamentally easier for investors to support founders that look and sound like they do. That usually means men funding men. And if it’s harder for women to get financial support, it’s harder for us to found a company.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I’m a mother of three kids, and I have a deep and personal sensitivity for family obligations. It enables me to balance my hard-driving business leadership with empathy for the home-life pressures on my team. I try to make each member of the organization feel appreciated as a whole person, and not just as a worker in the business.”
How do you stay motivated?
“We’re just getting started at Dovly, but one of the great aspects of this business is that we are thriving by helping people. It’s not a side-effect. It’s not a PR gimmick. It’s central to our mission. We founded the company because people needed help with a thorny problem: their credit reports were cluttered with mistakes, and there was no easy or affordable way to deal with it.
Our platform solves that issue, and then it helps people build better habits so they don’t fall back into the situation that brought them to us in the first place. The more people can get their credit in shape, the more they can access the critical products and services needed for financial independence. I’m not saying that money buys happiness, but with financial freedom, you are in a position to live a more stable and secure life. After your physical well-being, what could be more important?”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Thick skin —despite our accomplishments, we’ve taken a lot of blows over the past three years. We’ve heard it all. Prospective investors criticized us in novel and sometimes contradictory ways. Prospective business partners disparaged the efficacy and value of our technology. Program sponsors put us through the paces of multiple presentations only to conclude that we didn’t have what it takes to be successful. If I let these doubters get into my head, we would have closed up shop a long time ago. Instead, I dust myself off and move on to the next opportunity. It’s the only way to win.”
More on Dovly
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Nirit Rubenstein of Dovly that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.