Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call click here.

David Klein is the CEO and CoFounder of CommonBond, a leading marketplace lender that lowers the cost of student loans for borrowers and provides financial returns to investors. The company has raised $4 billion to date. That is $130 million in equity and the rest in debt capital or lending capital. Investors include Social Capital, August Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Nyca Partners, etc. and also Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Considerations when dropping out of school
  • Operating in a regulated industry
  • Mastering the art of listening
  • How to keep the costs down
  • Leveraging networks around you
  • Lessons learned from building, financing, and scaling


For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About David Klein:


David Klein is the CEO and Co-Founder of CommonBond, an online lender that uses data and technology to lower the cost of student loans.

After paying his way through Wharton Business School entirely with student loans, he realized how expensive, inefficient and complex the student lending process was.

So he started CommonBond, a company that focuses on alleviating student debt for the 40 million Americans who face this issue.

Since launching in 2012, CommonBond has raised over $1 billion across equity and debt. They put every dollar of that money to work to lower the cost of student loans for their members.

Before starting CommonBond, David worked in consumer finance at American Express, where he led a $250M annual business. He started his professional career at McKinsey & Company, where I advised clients in the financial services industry.

Connect with David Klein:


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Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Dealmakers Show. I have a New Yorker today here on the line with me. He is just like myself, a founder that I think we’re going to be able to learn a lot from him. Without further ado, David Klein from CommonBond. Welcome aboard today.

David Klein: Thanks, Alejandro.

Alejandro: Before going into your experiences as a founder, David, I believe you were before this a consultant at McKenzie. Then you worked AMEX for quite a bit. What were you doing here?

David Klein: At McKenzie, that’s really where I started my professional career post-college. After a one-year stint teaching English in France, I came back to the states. I started a job at McKenzie. I ended up advising Financial Services clients. I was at McKenzie for three years and then decided to move from professional services into what I call the corporate trenches and get some implementation experience to complement a lot of the strategic thinking, professional services work that’s done at McKenzie or consulting firms in general. I ended up heading over to American Express. I ended up working at American Express for about five years. According to plan, picked up a lot of implementation experience. What the CEO of AMEX, at the time Ken Chenault called the Execution Quotient. So, at McKenzie, I learned a lot around strategic thinking, problem disaggregation, problem-solving. At American Express, I learned a lot about the importance of execution, the importance of implementation. What I found is that combined, those two things are really helpful in building a business. So that when I left American Express and ended up going to business school, and using business school as an opportunity to incubate and accelerate an idea, and then run a company around that idea at or before graduation, I felt well prepared.

Alejandro: Got it. I believe you went to Wharton. You were doing your MBA there. I remember; we’ve chatting about this. You did the famous drop-out thing. What happened here with dropping out of Wharton?

David Klein: As alluded to before, I went to business school with the express purpose of starting a company at or before graduation. I decided to funnel all of the opportunity that tends to happen at business through that particular lens. I feel like I was fortunate enough such that after my first year of school, we had built enough momentum around CommonBond, the company that I ended up starting at Wharton and worked on with my co-founders in school. You know, built enough momentum to justify dropping out. It was a big decision. In the early days, nothing is too perfectly clear. You have to listen to your gut a lot, and you have to make decisions based on that. This drop-out decision was one of those decisions where it just felt like—on the one hand, it was kind of crazy to do. On the other hand, it felt like the absolute right decision to make. As it turns out, after dropping out and spending a significant amount of time, effort, and energy looking to raise that first round of capital, we ended up signing our first term sheet within two months—term sheets for Equity capital financing. I don’t think that would have happened without dropping out and pouring so much maniacal focus in that part of business building. So, from the moment I dropped out, even before raising that capital, I really haven’t regretted that decision for a moment. It’s not for everybody. Finishing school might have been right for some. But for me, that was the right decision, and I think it helped propel CommonBond to where it ultimately got to and allowed us to get to where we are today.

Alejandro: Got it. We’ll get into the actual financing in a bit. By the way, I can’t even imagine how the conversation went with your parents when you were telling them about your dropping out.

David Klein: Well, my mother still thinks I should go back to school and get my Master’s in Business Administration, which I haven’t had either the heart to tell her or the know-how to communicate why that probably makes less sense now.

Alejandro: Right. I actually speak with a lot of people that come to me, and they say, “What do you recommend? Should I go to business school, or what should I do?” I tell them, “Look. If you really want to learn business, you’re going to go to business school and study how people did it. Why don’t you do it yourself?” I’m just a big believer in just doing it. I think the best MBA is just launching your own business. But I guess that’s not for everyone.

David Klein: To say a word on that, I get that question a good amount as well. My answer is very similar. My answer is, “Just do it.” In other words, if you’re really ready to start a company, just do it. Usually, people start companies on topics that are a function of their life experience up until that point. I think the most important aspect of starting a business is less about what you’re going to go start and more about whether you’re ready to go start it. The psychological readiness of an entrepreneur, I think is the single most important predictor of future success. If you feel like you would rather be homeless, broke, and sleep on your friends’ couches just so you can start your company because you have that much passion, you have that much conviction, that probably means you’re ready to start a company. That was very true in my case. All those things actually happened. I realized I was ready to go broke. I was living out of a suitcase for four months. I was crashing on friends’ couches because I had come to the realization that nothing was more important to me than getting the business off the ground no matter what the consequences. It just so happened to be the right time when I was 31, 32 years old. But that can happen to anyone at any age, whether 17, 42, or 70. So, what I say is, “Hey, if you feel like you are psychological readiness as an entrepreneur is set, now’s the right time. If, however, your psychological readiness is not set, then maybe you should think about what you need to do along your way.” And I did that too. When I decided to leave American Express, I had a choice. I could have started a company and start a company. I chose the latter. I chose to go to business school. That was actually the right decision for me. Just like dropping out was the right decision, so too was going to business school in the first place. I’ll pause there, but hopefully, that gives you a sense of what my own experience was with this notion of when the right time to start a business is, and whether you should go get your MBA as a free person.

Alejandro: Yeah, I know, and that’s fantastic. Thank you for that, David. Just to build on top of that, you were talking about life experiences. That leads me to the next question that I wanted to ask you here like how did you incubate? What was the process of incubating CommonBond? How did it start?

David Klein: It really started with my own personal experience with needing to pay my way through business school. It was very expensive, and I needed to pay my way 100% with student loans. In that process, I realized three things:

  1. Interest rates were unnecessarily high.
  2. The process was overly complex.
  3. The customer service was pretty poor.

So, I found a need in the market. I could provide better rates with a much better experience. I realized there are a lot more people other than me who had this pain. So, I took that personal experience, I connected it to my background in finance as well as my entrepreneurial ambitions and decided to dedicate myself to fixing all that. That’s really how CommonBond was born. I then used business school as an opportunity to do a lot of things. 1) Write the business plan. 2) Put together my very first set of market research. I was around 1,500 or so folks like me who were in school or needed a way to pay their student loans, or about to graduate and could benefit from refinancing to a lower rate. So, I used that as an opportunity to do a lot of interviews, focus groups, and market research. I also used it as an opportunity to meet my co-founders. I met my two co-founders, Jessup Shean and Mike Taormina at Wharton. Jessup was a third-year JD/MBA. Mike was a first-year at the time. Just like me, a first-year MBA. Lastly, we used it as an opportunity to start building. We called up a lot of Wharton alumni as our first potential funders. It was at Wharton when we identified our student loan servicer that we would work with in the beginning. It was there where we found a few of our first advisors. That’s really how CommonBond came to be.

  1. Personal pain point.
  2. Business model fleshing out.
  3. Meeting co-founders.
  4. Starting to meet early investors.
  5. Starting to flesh out early operational pieces to the puzzle.

Alejandro: Got it. Yeah, without a doubt the network that you can find on these types of schools is really amazing because ultimately, the content, you can access it online, but the network is really abolió. I wanted to ask you, I remember, and I think I mentioned this to you. We went for lunch a couple of months together, and I mentioned this to you that my cofounder actually went to, I think it was your first office where you guys had a bunch of ping-pong tables. I remember you told me that you guys were even living there. So, what were those early days like?

David Klein: Early, early days was at business school building the company out. Then, was the drop-out. That’s when I was living out of a suitcase for four months and crashing on friends’ couches here in New York and in Philadelphia where we ended up launching our pilot program. Then once we got our first round of outside capital, we were able to get an office. But we also wanted to be appropriately frugal with the capital we now had, and so what we ended up doing, myself, my operating cofounder at the time, Mike, and our first employee, Nate, we ended up living out of the office. We lived in that office for about a year and a half before we a) got another larger office because we were more people and needed more space, and b) got our own places to live, at this point, individually. So, that’s really what CommonBond was about that first year plus four months, plus another year, naturally. But the first three years, from idea to incubation to initial launch, it was on campus, on couches, in the office.

Alejandro: Wow. Wow. Wow. What in essence is the business model behind CommonBond so that people who are listening get it?

David Klein: At the highest level, if you need student loans to go to school, or if you needed student loans to go to school and still have them, we can help. If you’re currently a student in school or about to go to school, we provide low-cost student loans to finance your education. If you’ve already graduated, and you still have student loans, we offer the ability to refinance your student loans into a lower rate as well. Finally, if you still have your student loan and you’re gainfully employed, we have an employer platform of student loan benefits whereby we provide employers the opportunity to pay down their employee’s student debt by say $100 a month. We also provide employers technology that they, in turn, offer their employees that allow employees to understand their best repayment options. Sometimes, it means refinance, but not always. Sometimes, it might mean the income-based repayment program through the Federal Government or Public Service Loan Forgiveness through the Federal Government, or some obscure state-based program. So, what we do in our mission, really founding mission, is to help lower the cost of higher education in the U.S., and we do that by lowering the finance cost of going to school while either still a student or post-graduation while you’re still paying down your student debt.

Alejandro: Got it. Really interesting. The other day, I had an interesting discussion. We did an interview with the founder of Betterment. We were talking about operating in regulated environments, and it’s not easy. I guess from your perspective, what have been some of those learnings?

David Klein: Sure, and we know John Wellons, he’s done one heck of a job, he and his team with building out betterment over the past years on the asset management side of SynTech. No doubt, if you were going to start a fintech, you need to be well versed in the regulatory landscape, and you need to know how to navigate it pretty well. This is something we take very seriously. We have taken it seriously from the start. In fact, our first hire, Nate, who I mentioned before was and still is a lawyer. So, our first hire was a lawyer. That’s not typical of a startup, but for a startup that operates in a regulatory environment, whether that’s a financial startup or a healthcare startup probably not a bad idea. In terms of the learnings, I think it’s something we’ve known from the very beginning, but it’s been validated over time. That is:

  1. Take it very seriously.
  2. Reach out to regulators early and often.
  3. Stay ahead of the curve.

So, before regulators are even asking you to do things, you want to be doing things that are right by the consumer, and in fact, that was something we were able to do in our case. So, before the CFPD came out and gave guidance to student loans—lenders, in particular, student loan refinancers, around letting people know about the Federal Government Student Loan Program and letting them know about protections that they had with the Federal Government loan before refinancing, we were already doing that. So, I think those three things are really important.

  1. Recognize you are in a regulated environment and understand it.
  2. Reach out to regulators early and often.
  3. Stay ahead of the curve as it relates to regulation.

Staying ahead of the curve is really easy if you have a unifying principle or a guiding light, and that is do right by the customer. That’s something, frankly, that’s come natural to us because we’ve done that from Day 1. That was, in large part, what I was doing at McKenzie helping large financial institutions think about how you keep customers’ centricity at the fore of everything you do. It’s something that I believe in heavily. It’s one of the reasons why I thought the student loan system was broken, and I started CommonBond. That is, do right by the customer. For us, it was those three things.

Alejandro: Just talking about that, how do you define customers centricity?

David Klein: It’s actually thinking about the customer. When you’re thinking about new products, think about it from the customer’s perspective. When you’re thinking about operation processes, think about what the customer is going through. When you’re thinking about customer care, think about the customer first. Everything should emanate from the customer. Even when you think about how you generate revenue and what your expenses should be, think about the customer first. Think about their experience. Think about what it should be and build around that. As simple as that sounds, that is not what the majority of companies do. Even the ones that say the words customer centricity. It’s got to be in your—frankly, I think it has to be in your founding DNA. I think when it’s in your founding DNA, it finds itself in all of your processes and systems. It finds itself in the DNA of the people that you hire. It becomes one of the criteria you look for in the people that you hire, and those are the people who end up building the additional processes systems as you continue to grow and scale. That’s what I mean when I talk about customer centricity.

Alejandro: Love it. In your case, you guys have done multiple rounds of financing. How much capital have you guys raised so far, that is to say publicly announced?

David Klein: In our case, because we are a capital-heavy business, we’ve actually raised, secured, closed, over $4 billion in capital. Now, important to distinguish of that $4 billion, $130 million has been equity. The rest has been debt capital or lending capital. So, we’ve had experience on the equity capital market side of the business and the debt capital market side of the business. On the equity capital market side, like I mentioned, we raised about $130 million. To date, we’ve raised over five rounds. We’ve raised from a diverse set of investors. So, if you look at led our round at each of those five rounds, it’s pretty much every type of investor in amalgam. So, the first round was led by an angel. The second round was led by an early-stage VC. The third [pause in audio 19:49 – 19:55]. The fifth round was led by a strategic. On the debt capital market side, we’ve raised everything from warehouse line capacity, from big banks like Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Citi, ING to sold loans, whole institutional buyers to issued our own securitizations. And in three years since starting our securitization program, became a Triple-A issuer of bonds. We have household names buying our bonds: large insurance companies, asset managers, credit funds. So, we’re really plugged into various parts of the capital markets on both the equity and debts side, just give the nature of our company.

Alejandro: Got it, and I’m very happy that you made that distinction because in many instances, I’ve actually been in conferences or speaking on panels where I heard—and I don’t want to disclose names, but basically a founder saying, “Oh, we’ve raised this amount of money.” And it really sounds like a lot, but it’s, obviously as you were saying, those businesses are capital-heavy on financing others and all of that stuff. There’s a really clear separation or a structure where a certain amount is equity, as you were saying, and then the other amount is for financing some of your customers. So, I wanted to ask you here as a follow-up, what does that structure, just like for the people that are not technically savvy on this, just really quickly, a 30,000-foot view of what does that structure look like?

David Klein: For those of you who aren’t finance, like me, what I would say is the equity side is something that I think everybody understands. It’s the stuff we read about in TechCrunch and other announcements when folks raise money from VC firms: Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner, Perkins, General Catalyst, etc. That’s typically equity capital; almost always equity capital. That is working capital to operate the business, keep the lights on, pay employees, invest in marketing and technology, etc. There’s another kind of capital, and this is a type of capital that tends to be more narrow in scope and use and applied mostly to finance companies. In our case, it’s the capital we raise to fund the loans given the nature of our business. Just like in our business, you can think about it this way: a company that everybody knows and understands, Warby Parker. They sell eyewear. It’s a durable good. In order to sell that durable good, they need inventory of raw materials. Then they need a factory to put together those raw materials in the form of eyewear: frames and lenses. A finance business like us, where we lend capital, is really no different. We have inventory that we keep in a warehouse, and then we put together in the form of a product that we sell to a consumer. But instead of keeping in a warehouse those raw materials like plastics, synthetics, for eyewear, our raw material happens to be capital. We hold that capital in what in finance are actually called warehouses. When we need to draw down that raw material, that raw capital to provide a customer with a loan, we in fact go to our warehouse, we take the raw material of capital, we put it together in the form of a loan, and provide it to our customer. So, just as Warby Parker needs cash to buy the raw materials, and put it in the warehouse, and then put it together just in time delivery for its consumers, we do the exact same thing, but our raw material happens to be capital. That capital happens to sound like big numbers. So, when I say $4 billion, that’s because that’s the raw material of capital we need to draw down from at the right time to meet customer demands for loans.

Alejandro: Got it. That’s incredibly helpful, David. You were mentioning about your equity round, so you had angels, venture capital, private equity. I know that there are a lot of people here that are thinking about one route or the other, and more specifically, there’s a lot of confusion when comparing venture capital with private equity. I guess in your experience, what really differentiates one type of investor from the other?

David Klein: Yeah. You know, I’ll be honest. They do have titles associated with them, monikers, but I think the lines blur more than the names might belie. What I mean by that is that at the end of the day, capital is capital. Equity capital is equity capital, and equity capital is looking to fund the working capital of strong and growing businesses because that capital wants a return on itself. That capital wants to make money on itself. So, sometimes, I think we get caught up in PE vs growth stage VC, growth capital vs VC capital. The truth is, I think what matters most is stage. That is to say, given the stage of company you are at, it might lead you to go talk to a certain type of equity investor more than the other. The names that we give it, growth stage, early stage, PE, those are really just proxies for what stage of capital an investor is really in. So, what I would advise people to do is look beyond those names, look beyond DC, PE, and look more at for every equity investor that exists, what stage of the company do they tend to invest in or want to invest in? Because what they’re going to want and need to see from you and the business will differ, and who you go to based on your stage will differ. So, I’d say focus less on the name or title of an investor and more on what is typically the stage of company they invest in.

Alejandro: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s all a matter of also the individual and what they’re capable of because, in many instances, the founder really gets too distracted with the name of the firm, but then ultimately, the person that you work with and that is on your board is really going to make all the difference. In your case, you have, by the way, fantastic investors. I see that they have Social Capital, August Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, [Nyca 27:20] Partners. You even have Vikram Pandit, who is the former CEO of Citigroup? So, how did you meet these people.

Read More: Eswar Priyadarshan On Selling His Business To Steve Jobs For $275 Million And Learning One Critical Lesson About Success

David Klein: It depends on who we’re talking about. Vikram Pandit, as an example, is somebody I met through one of our advisors, investors, and board members. Tribeca Venture Partners led our Series A. I actually met them through a law firm. Our first angel investor, I met through a process whereby we were reaching out to a number of Wharton alumni. Social capital, I met in our Series A round when Tribeca Venture Partners put in that term sheet, and we were looking to fill out the round. It was one of the investors that Tribeca Venture Partners suggested that we reach out to, and we did. August Capital, I met through a friend and colleague in the space who knows a lot of equity investors in FinTech. So, every investor has its own story. I think the unifying theme here is always be looking to, especially in prep for fundraises, and through fundraises really be open to meeting folks. Really be proactive about getting introduction to others from people who are already in your network whether they be potential investors, current investors, advisors, current or prospective. We did not start with the set of relationships we have today. We built that through rote, through just a methodical approach to reaching out to many people, hearing lots of noes. Using those noes to improve our model and our pitch, and in all conversations asking who else.

Alejandro: The noes, you’re going to hear them all the time. But I find that to potentially get yourself closer to a yes as a founder, social proof is critical. I guess talking about that, in your experience, David, what has been the best introduction, like the type of introduction that would probably get you closer to the yes right off the bat?

David Klein: It’s a good question, and as I hear that question, I think the introduction is one of several factors that lead to a potential yes. Frankly, probably isn’t even in the top quartile of factors required to maximize a yes. That being said, truth be told I’ve been introduced to investors through other investors, through other entrepreneurs, through intermediaries, through mutual friends. I’d say you definitely want a warm connection, but who that warm connection comes from—you know, people say it’s better to come from a fellow entrepreneur than a fellow investor than a service provider like a lawyer. I haven’t seen that much difference between the type of warm connection. I have seen warm connections are effective. Then it has everything to do with you, your team, and your business. That’s really what investors are going to invest in. In the earlier stage, it probably has a lot to do with you and your team, your passion, your conviction as well as the space that you’re in whether it’s large enough and the investor thinks it’s exciting enough. As you proceed, it’s going to remain those things, but it’s going to become more and more things like, does the business work? How do you found product-market fit? What does unit economics look like? How close to profitability are you? How much are you proving an ability to penetrate a large market? That tends to be the direction of where things go as you continue to build the company out in terms of what investors are looking at or looking for.

Alejandro: Got it. That’s very helpful. You know, one of the things that I was very much impressed about you, David, is that I’ve seen you in public, and also, we know each other. You are an unbelievable listener. I’ve seen you listen to others in conversations in a way that it seems like you are literally like stealing the knowledge from people’s brains. It’s unreal. So, I want to ask you. Being a founder and building and scaling things from nowhere, it’s not an easy task. You’ve been there; you’ve done it. So, what process do you normally follow to teach yourself new stuff that could support you really in dealing with potential challenges in the business?

David Klein: First of all, I appreciate the comment. Your listeners are probably confused because they probably just heard me talk and talk and talk this whole time, and haven’t observed, perhaps the same thing you have. Whether I have what you’re suggesting I do in the way I do is up for others to determine. I will say this, no doubt that listening to what other people have to say, not just what they’re saying, but reading between the lines and understanding what they really mean is very important. That’s the case in talking to investors when trying to understand what’s important to them. That’s the case in talking to new potential employees who you’re looking to recruit onboard as well as current employees who you’re looking to make and keep happy within the four corners of business objectives. So, no doubt that’s important. It’s important with regulators, with industry players so that what you do as a business squarely fits with what you need to be doing as a business. I don’t know if you want me to say more, Alejandro. I’ll pause there and see where you want me to take it. But there’s no doubt that truly hearing what the other side is trying to say both directly and between the lines is important to business building.

Alejandro: Absolutely. And in this journey, did you find any resources more helpful than others?

David Klein: You know, that’s a good question, and it’s a big question. For my mind to even process that, I probably need to think about it in stages. So, if I think about those early, early days, we just talked to a lot of people. We talked to a lot of customers. We did it through primarily research. We did it through conversation. We did it through focus groups and interviews. We talked to a lot of potential investors before we got our first yes. We talked to a lot of professors and advisors. We talked to a lot of regulators. We just talked to a lot of people. And we learned something just about every time. At the very least, we validated or were able to invalidate certain things in those conversations, and we were able to refine the model; refine the model. We were also able to refine our pitch more and more and more. It just made us stronger. That was really the early days. It went from refining the model and the pitch to then refining the operation. So, once we got capital, it was about refining the operation. It was about, you know now, we were testing things out in market whether it was on the marketing side, the operational side, the customer care side, and we heard from customers. We heard from customer behavior in marketing, and we listened to that, and we refined, refined, and refined more. We refined more until our operation started yielding some early signs of product market tests, some early signs of really effective, cost-effective marketing or customer acquisition. So, that’s what it ended up becoming, and so on and so forth.

Alejandro: Got it. And to this note, and talking about listening, I mean I’m sure that the board members that you probably brought onboard, or the advisories that you also brought onboard, probably they are off the charts, and I very much trust your judgment in that regard. In your case, for example, what did you really look for in this, let’s say, for example, board members to help you on this strategy at the top?

David Klein: It’s a good question because when you’re looking for investors in the company at various stages, the truth of the matter is whoever leads you around is likely going to be the person who joins your board. I’ll be honest. Sometimes, the person who you want to take capital from or going to take capital from, that has a set of considerations and criteria that have some overlap but are different than the holistic set of criteria you use for a board member. So, you want to be able to understand what criteria are important to you when you raise capital, and what criteria are important to you for a board member? The more eyes-wide-open you are in those things, the more you can control for it [37:17] possible, as you raise money so that you’re not too myopic around choosing an investor based on that capital, that investor side only. You’re also choosing an investor. Certainly, a lead investor from the perspective of a board member as well.

Alejandro: Got it. Going back to CommonBond, David, how do you see the company evolving as time goes on and in the future? Where do you see CommonBond in the future?

David Klein: When we think about what we do today at a high level, we provide a best-in-class product and experience for people who are making the biggest financial decision they’ve made in their life up to this point. That is around the student loan, whether a student is going to school, or a student who graduates with student debt, to take on a student loan, to refinance your student debt, is the largest financial decision that you’re making relatively early in your financial life. And we want to make sure not only are we getting that product and experience right, but we want to make sure that we’re providing you with the right set of financial products and services as you continue to grow and evolve in your own life. So, when I think about growth, when I think about scale, when I think about the future, that’s a lot of what I think about. And the way we’ve built our products throughout the day is we follow our customer. So, we listen to our customer. We understand what their needs really are, and we build product around that. Up to this point, we have focused exclusively on higher education finance. But that doesn’t mean we’re precluded from staying in higher education finance. We believe there’s a way to follow our customer over time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2019 that’s the year you start seeing us provide products and services to the consumer that they really need. It might even be a little different than what you see from traditional. In fact, it will be different than what you see from traditional financial institutions.

Alejandro: Got it. If you could go back—this is always a question that I ask the guests that we have on the show. If you could go back to the past and give yourself one piece of advice, let’s say in this case before you were launching CommonBond, what would that be?

David Klein: It would probably be everything has a solution. You just can’t see it yet. So, have the confidence and the grace that the solution exists through all the ambiguity. That’s one thing I think you realize the more you do this, and it’s the one thing I think keeps you grounded as you continue to experience more complex, you know, higher stake-like problems to solve. You develop a muscle around, “Hey, even though we can’t see the solution yet, we’ve had enough rets to build enough muscle to know that we’ve seen this movie before. We know that the solution exists even if we can’t see it yet, so let’s stay focused and grounded in that knowledge, in that faith, and it typically works out, believe it or not. That’s the piece that I would say. Now, I realize how ironic or coincidental that advice is because the truth is, you are not, I would dare say, cannot develop that muscle and lesson until you go through it yourself. So, I can sit here and pontificate all I want. I can provide advice going back for folks who are looking forward. The trust is, folks are going to develop it, and I think they need to develop it for themselves to go through those rets. To develop that pattern recognition, that confidence, and that faith in themselves to make them a stronger entrepreneur at the increasing levels of scale.

Alejandro: I love it. I love it. So, David, what is the best way for folks that are listening to reach out and say hi?

David Klein: I don’t know how many people this goes to yet, Alejandro, or how many people this could go to, so I’m going to approach this question with some caution. I will say this: if you’ve listened to this podcast, and you really want to get ahold of me, go ahead and email [email protected], or go to to look at our 1-800 number. Have a call, and let them know you heard this podcast. I gave very specific instruction to email care, or call in to the care group to reach me directly, and folks will direct you appropriately.

Alejandro: Amazing. Well, David, thank you so much for being on the Dealmakers Show.

David Klein: Thanks for having me, Alejandro.

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Neil Patel

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