Ohad Samet: Co-founder & CEO, TrueAccord

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Ohad Samet is the co-founder and CEO of TrueAccord, a data driven debt recovery platform seeking to put a human face on debt collections by using machine learning and behavioral analytics. Prior, Ohad headed fraud analytics for FraudSciences, a company that provided eCommerce fraud prevention and was acquired by PayPal in 2008. At PayPal, Ohad incubated and ran the New Ventures Risk team. After leaving PayPal in 2010, Ohad started two companies. Signifyd is a leading fraud prevention vendor working with Fortune 500 companies to reduce payments fraud. The other, Analyzd, was acquired by Klarna, a European payments company, in 2011. There Ohad served as Chief Risk Officer, in charge of granting real-time short-term credit for Klarna's $2.5B of annual payments volume.

How did you get into the industry?

I was always attracted to the “unsexy” parts of financial technology because that’s where I see the worst offenses in terms of bad user experience, negative impact on consumer finances, etc. I was exposed to debt collection as Chief Risk Officer at Klarna and it quickly became apparent that this industry is old, fragmented, and can benefit from machine learning. Plus, a bad experience with a debt collector convinced me that there is much to do in this field. I am deeply passionate about the incredible changes we’re seeing in consumer preference and maturation of machine learning and social networks. We have an opportunity to bring best in class treatment to people in debt, build a product that focuses on user experience, and support financial health for more than 70 million Americans who are in debt each year. It’s a huge opportunity, both to build a successful business and the drive social change. Banking and lending are going to look different in a few years and TrueAccord is at the forefront of this effort.

Any emerging industry trends?

Consumer finance in general is facing a huge shift as consumers are more digital, on the go, and expect better user experience and value from their bank and financial institution. Banks are reacting by rethinking their engagement models, and many startups try to find cracks in banks’ offerings and grow. Debt collection is no different – it’s a key part of the lending process, and consumers deserve a great experience, digital and targeted to their needs – instead of six call attempts per day.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The maturation of machine learning technologies, marketing tools and digital communication channel – together with the proliferation of mobile devices – created a new type of consumer. The old way of collecting debt is irrelevant to these consumers who don’t open their mail and don’t answer their phone. It’s a deep shift, and we are at the forefront of that change.

The challenge here is that issuers often don’t get this change in consumer expectations. We have an opportunity to demonstrate how new technologies can improve the collection process, take business away from harassing agencies, and help issuers and lenders rebuild trust and relationships with consumers, even if those are in debt. In the long term, this is the best choice for everyone in the ecosystem.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Our vision is to become the platform for financial health – not only helping people pay for their debt by arranging convenient payment terms, but also by offering work opportunities, financial planning help, and so on. We’re constantly building towards offering these services at scale.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We have onboarded some of the US’s biggest banks and financial institutions and are expanding our partnership with them. We are also onboarding several others. TrueAccord continues to grow by the month. Executing well is our focus.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We have incredible traction from word of mouth. As surprising as it may sound, collection strategists at large issuers and creditors exchange a lot of opinions and best practices, and our user experience and best in class performance get us a lot of references.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

It took us a while to find product market fit and discover how to sell to large lenders. This is a traditional industry and convincing it to open up to modern user experience and the benefits of relations-based collections took time. The first year and half before we signed our first major bank were definitely challenging.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I love to see skepticism turn into strong belief in what we do. Many have been “raised” on the premise that calling consumers at scale is the only way to collect. Their enthusiasm when they see how a targeted, experience-focused system performs and what great feedback it receives is delightful. Then, they start planning how to use the system to improve customer relationships and collection performance in a way no call center can execute thanks to our code controlled system. It’s an empowering feeling for an analytical collection strategist.

How do you motivate others?

TrueAccord is a mission driven organization. We wake up each day looking to bring best in class consumer experience to the tens of millions of Americans who are in debt each year. It’s a strong driver, and each and every team member feels like they’re changing the world every time we land a client or have a product breakthrough.

Career advice to those in your industry?

It’s time to see the deep shift in this industry and move away from the old ways to collect debts. Think about innovating and helping consumers more than collecting every last penny at the expense of relationships. Above all, come join us in our mission to change this industry!