Startup founders are known to get scrappy when it comes to finding office space, maybe turning a garage, a spare bedroom, or a co-working space into an early-stage HQ.
Yes, a cemetery.
“I was looking for office space that was very affordable, quiet, chill, and close to Marietta Square,” Scholtens told Hypepotamus. “I was looking at a D class commercial real estate property website…and this house came up and said: Landlord Office of Veteran Affairs, $8 per square foot.”
Turns out, that house was an old graveyard keeper’s house long abandoned inside the Marietta National Cemetery.
It was a strategic financial move for the early-stage startup. But it also perfectly aligns with the mission of the startup, which is all about teaching financial literacy to adults.
OinkChing’s platform and content centers around its “secret sauce” – 26 financial literacy principles. The goal is to move beyond the stagnant and boring videos you might find on some YouTube lecture series on personal finance.
“Content has to be either educational or entertaining, preferably both….Our goal isn’t to belabor any points. An adult has choices. And so we focus on the moment that [a person] is ready to go accomplish something financially. That’s when the world has a test,” Scholtens added.
The content library is organized around specific life events, like when a user is ready to buy a car, send their kid off to college, or open a retirement account. Each video goes deep into tangible, real-life financial situations to help an individual best make decisions for themselves.
That might look like teaching a user how to think like a pricing manager in order to maximize each line in a personal budget or discovering practical ways to reduce weekly food expenses.
Courses dealing with macroeconomic pressures, like living with inflation, are available free of charge.
Right now, only about a fourth of the 2,000 minutes of content focuses on financial products like mortgages and credit cards. The rest centers on practical, daily consumer tactics that can boost an individual’s personal finance goals.
“We’re third party. We don’t offer financial products. We are not a fiduciary agent…we just focus on literacy. I don’t give advice. We talk about strategy a lot. But I never give advice. It’s just here’s how systems work. And here’s how people use those systems to benefit themselves,” he added.
Users who come through the B2B side of OinkChing’s business model, which partners with local banks and credit unions, can get a discount on the video content. An early sponsor is First American Bank and Trust out of Athens, Georgia.
The Origin of OinkChing
The idea for OinkChing dates back to Scholtens’ time at Equifax. He spent twelve years moving through the ranks of the credit reporting giant, ultimately moving into Senior Director and VP roles.
“In 2017, Equifax got breached. It wasn’t just that there was a lot of data stolen, it’s that the quality of the data stolen was excellent,” he told Hypepotamus. “But I watched as consumers were really mad. Then did none of the rational things that mad people should do next.”
Equifax offered a small financial settlement or several years of free credit monitoring. Yet, according to Scholtens, the vast majority of people didn’t respond or did not opt into the free credit monitoring option.
His main takeaway: Financial literacy is a real issue for Americans.
He started building his own simulator to help his kids understand key financial concepts. That simulator led him down a “ four year research binge” into what financial literacy education tools were out there in the market. When he realized there was a clear gap in material out there, he set out to build the education platform he wanted to see.
Now…back to the cemetery
Of course, we had to dig more into the story of a startup building inside a cemetery.
Ending up in a historic Southern cemetery might not be on the road map of most early-stage startups. But it certainly seems like the right place for OinkChing.
“We keep our expenses really low. It takes a lot of time to build 2,000 minutes of 4K content. And it takes time to sell into banks and credit unions because they are risk averse,” he added.