Houston startup selected for financial accelerator program
SpenDebt co-founder, Kiley Summers (second to right)Photo: Julie Dohearty

A Houston-based startup that developed a digital app to help users pay off debt by leveraging micropayments through every day transactions has been selected to participate in the Northwestern Mutual (NM) Black Founder Accelerator program.

Kiley Summers, co-founder of SpenDebt, is one of five founders NM is committed to helping address the racial wealth gap by providing targeted resources and financing for companies nationwide.

The program provides selected startups with $100,000 investment, along with a 12-week training program to grow their businesses. Founders are also paired with executive mentors from NM and receive individualized coaching and mentoring from industry-leading insurance and financial professionals.

“This year, the company focused on the strategic fit, meaning the chosen startups are either solving for an area Northwestern Mutual is interested in or are building a solution that meets the future needs of Northwestern Mutual’s advisors, clients and home office employees, said Moiz Dawoodhai, assistant director of Strategic Investing at NW Future Ventures.  

“This also helps in pairing founders with a Northwestern Mutual executive to serve as a mentor for this program.”

Student debt, credit card debt, inflation and the ballooning costs of higher education are among the financial crises facing the U.S.

Summers experienced financial pressure with more than $100,000 in consumer debt after he and his wife Ty’Lisha graduated from college. After seeking a financial advisor to improve their finances, they became debt free after nearly a decade of working to pay it off.

To help others become debt free, they created SpenDebt.

“Through enabling financial education tools, such as SpenDebt, our company is helping Black families leverage their behavioral economics to pay bills and reduce debt more consistently and incrementally, Summers said.

“This solution provides companies the ability to extend the lifetime value of their customers, protect them from potentially going into collections and even worse receiving a derogatory mark on their credit report…”

Summers said the NW Black Founder Accelerated program “fills the gaps of capital, network and expertise.” With these resources Black founders can focus solely on building their product and services for their niche market.

“It’s an honor to a part of a program that intentionally creates a space for Black founders to develop and scale their business with one of the oldest insurance and financial institutions in the world,” he said. “The access this program offers is so critical for Black founders to survive and thrive, especially because Black individuals have historically been under supported.”

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...