Goodly helps employees pay down their student debt faster while giving companies the benefit of retaining top talent. I met with the company’s co-founder and CEO, Gregory Poulin, to learn more about their mission to offset rising student loan debt by making it more manageable for student loan borrowers in the workforce.
Goodly Team (from left to right): Hemant Verma, Dylan Blatt, Kierra Sweeney, Gregory Poulin
The call for non-traditional employee benefits
Ten years ago, total student loan debt in the United States amassed to $619 billion. Today, that number has inflated to a mind-blowing $1.6 trillion. Launched four weeks ago with TechCrunch, YC company Goodly aims to ease the financial burden of hefty student loans that employees face upon entering the workforce.
Greg and Hemant, co-founders of Goodly, met working together at Rippling, a Y-Combinator startup focused on HR and employee benefits software. With Greg being the first non-technical hire and Hemant one of the first engineers at the firm, they were able to help launch and grow the company very quickly before they had any customers or finished products.
The idea was born from Greg’s own experience with student loan debt. Having to borrow $80,000 of student loans to attend school at Dartmouth, Greg found it challenging to give serious thought to safe retirement or savings for a house after college when he was paying down such high student loan debt. He and his co-founder researched the market and saw a huge demand from employees for the type of benefit. From there, the idea was spawned: a lightweight system that made it easy for companies to include student loan repayment benefits in employee comp packages.
“Student loan debt is becoming this terrifying problem for so many employees so we’re really excited to have solved one of the largest challenges for many employees coming out of school.” – Gregory Poulin, CEO and Co-Founder of Goodly
Spending less than a cup of coffee
Americans are being crushed by student loan debt, and the numbers substantiate the severity. 7 out of 10 college students graduate with an average student loan of $37,000. Breaking down that number by demographic, women hold two-thirds of student debt and owe half a trillion dollars more than their male colleagues. African American employees carry 31% more student loan debt than their white peers and LGBTQ student loan borrowers owe 17% more than the general population.
The bottom line is that Americans need help paying off their student loans. With Goodly helping companies deploy an employer contribution program, the average employee can pay off their student loans 8.5 years faster than they normally would.
On the upside for employers, they can promote greater diversity and inclusion as well as a happier workplace, contributing to longer employee tenure. “Right now, millennial employees tend to only last at their companies for about 12-14 months, but with student loan benefits, 69% said that they would commit to working with their employers for up to 5 years,” claims Greg. Not only that, but Goodly states that companies that offer student loan benefits see about 50% higher employee retention than companies who don’t offer student loan benefits.
The positive return of investment for both sides is clearly mutual.
Certainly, millennials and Gen Zers hold a lot of the student loan debt, but Goodly’s solution also resonates with an older audience. These 7 million student loan borrowers between the age of 40 and 49 could be taking their own student loan debt from their graduate or undergraduate studies or be taking out loans on behalf of their children. By spending less than the cost of a cup of coffee per day, employers can make monthly contributions towards their employee student loan debt in an easy and affordable way.
Leading with an advantage
In the trillion dollar plus student loans debt market, one of Goodly’s biggest competitors is California-based Tuition.io, which is also on the mission to help companies attract and retain top talent with student loan repayment offerings. Aside from similarities in vision, Goodly co-founder Greg points to major differentiators that will help put them ahead of the curb. “First and foremost, we’re the only player in the space that has a technical co-founder on our founding team, allowing us to have a really tech-focused approach to everything we do,” explains Greg. The strong technical core enables Goodly to incorporate feedback from their clients and customers more responsively.
Goodly also holds the upper hand with their competitive pricing and billing transparency. Whereas competitors such as Tuition.io and Gradifi charge annual recurring fees of anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 per year, Goodly eliminates the cost barrier of student loan benefits for companies by designing a fair pricing policy based on company size and usage rather than a flat rate.
“Ours is the only system which lists our prices on our website. Everything is very transparent.” – Co-Founder and CTO of Goodly, Hemant
Lastly, Goodly is the only system that integrates directly with company payroll providers, making the process as frictionless as possible. With Hemant’s time at Rippling building 75+ different integrations, Goodly has the technical advantage to communicate directly with the payroll provider to automate the entire onboarding process.
“It takes an average company about 15 minutes to set up an account on Goodly and then they never have to touch it after that.” – Greg Poulin, CEO and Co-Founder of Goodly.
Simply put, Goodly streamlines the process for companies to get up and running with a single phone call or online through their self-serve system. With other platforms recommending a 1-2-month implementation process, even for small companies, Goodly is able to get companies operating with their system within minutes. Now it’s up to them to build their client base.
Ensuring the financial well-being of a generation
Wrapping up at YC’s Demo Day, Goodly is now honing in on scaling up their platform and onboarding more companies. With only 4% of companies in the US offering student loan benefit, Goodly hopes to be able to create more awareness among both employers and employees that this new category of benefits exists. They are YC-backed and are raising their seed round. Hopefully soon, their vision to alleviate the burden of student loan debt for the workforce becomes a reality.