This Chicago Startup Is Using AI to Help People Improve Their Credit

Cambio also helps users settle debt with collectors.

Written by Abel Rodriguez
Published on Mar. 16, 2023
This Chicago Startup Is Using AI to Help People Improve Their Credit
Cambio co-founder and CEO Blesson Abraham poses for a photo.
Cambio co-founder and CEO Blesson Abraham. | Image: Cambio / Built In

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Chicago’s rising companies from last quarter here.

* * *

The Chicago tech scene is known for many industries, but the local fintech industry is one that is still growing. Already there are a number of regional companies helping people invest in crypto or build generational wealth. Chicago-based Cambio is looking to be another innovative fintech company with its bold ideas to improve the finances of its users. 

Founded in 2020, Cambio is a credit-rebuilding platform that helps users improve their credit scores and pay off debt collectors. The platform also features several tools and services to help people learn about their credit and ways to improve it. 

Local tech entrepreneur Blesson Abraham founded Cambio after he said he went into deep debt trying to keep his other startup running. His company, a data and SaaS provider for banks, was acquired in 2017 by CUNA Mutual Group. By that point, Abraham said his finances and credit had been damaged. He said his credit score dropped by several hundred points and that he often dealt with debt collectors. 

After spending four years rebuilding his credit, Abraham decided to launch a new company to help people in similar situations. 

“The focus that we had [launching Cambio] was, ‘How do we help consumers that are disenfranchised, vulnerable, underserved and get them to a point where theyre not in those situations?” Abraham told Built In. 

... how do we help consumers that are disenfranchised, vulnerable, underserved and get them to a point where theyre not in those situations?”

To help consumers, Cambio finds line items in users credit reports that hurt their scores and helps resolves those issues. For consumers facing collections, Cambio leverages artificial intelligence to call debt collectors on the users behalf and negotiate their debt. The new tool, called Cambio Co-Pilot, can also provide live feedback and give the user suggestions on what to say to a collector if they decide to speak with the debt collector themselves. 

“The average Cambio member that comes to us has about $1,000 in balances that are in collections. So its not really this huge exuberant number,” Abraham said. “A lot of our members want to go and pay off the amount but theyre afraid to go talk to a collector because theres a stigma and theres fear. So we help them through that process by leveraging AI and we help them negotiate that debt down.”

Last year, Cambio was selected to participate in the 2022 Y Combinator accelerator, an elite program for startups. In the program, Abraham said that he learned how to scale Cambio. He also raised $500,000 in funding for the startup. 

As Cambio’s users have begun to improve their financial well-being, the company is also helping them build wealth. Soon, Cambio wants to help people buy homes and is looking to partner with mortgage companies to offer mortgage services.

“The number one reason why people join Cambio is that they want to buy a home. The average age of our consumers is 30 years old and 99 percent are renters, so the next stage for us as theyre progressing in their credit recovery journey is to help them get into that home,” Abraham said.

More Chicago Future 5 CoverageBeacon Launches Device Backed by UVC Light to Disinfect Homes, Offices

Hiring Now
Cisco Meraki
Artificial Intelligence • Cloud • Hardware • Information Technology • Security • Software • Generative AI