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Start Your Business Success Stories

Debt Recovery Gets Friendly in Data-Driven Startup

Entrepreneur: Ohad Samet
Business name: TrueAccord
Years in business: 1
Website address: www.trueaccord.com

Debt recovery isn't exactly known as the friendliest of industries. No one is ever happy to receive a notice or phone call about a late outstanding balance, especially when it comes from a shady-sounding third-party collection agency. And more often than not, the collector on the other end only adds to a debtor's stress about the money he or she owes.

After his own negative experience with a collector over a forgotten store credit card, tech entrepreneur Ohad Samet decided to find a better, data-driven approach to debt recovery. TrueAccord, a fully automated algorithmic recovery system that combines behavioral analytics and a humanistic touch, is helping businesses collect outstanding payments while still maintaining positive customer relationships. Instead of harassing a debtor with stern-sounding phone calls and "final notices," TrueAccord takes a softer, gentler approach with personalized digital notifications that include colloquial language, easy click-to-pay buttons and even debt resolution advice.

CEO and co-founder Samet, a veteran in the financial services and technology industries, shared more details about his company's unique model for debt recovery, and how he hopes it will change common conceptions about collection agencies and debt itself. 

Ohad Samet, co-founder and CEO of TrueAccord Credit: trueaccord.com

Business News Daily: What problem were you hoping to solve when you started your business?

Ohad Samet: Over 77 million Americans have had an interaction with debt collectors, and that number grows each year. The process is opaque, scary, and full of scams and intimidation. We're creating a system that makes recovery simple, easy to understand, and helps both the customer and the company they owe money to. The system also removes a lot of phone call interaction, a major cause for stress and legal issues. At the end of the day, debt can happen to anyone, and people don't deserve being treated badly just because they're late. Introducing algorithmic recovery helps them get back on their feet while the balance gets paid.

BND: Could your business have existed 20 years ago?

O.S.: Not likely. We're relying on a lot of advancements in machine learning and behavioral analytics from the past decade. We're also catering to shifting customer preferences to digital communication — 30 percent of our customers interact with us via a mobile phone, and most of them prefer email and text. Marrying advanced technology with a shift in customer behavior is a unique aspect of TrueAccord's product.

BND: What technology can't you live without?

O.S.: As a frequent traveler, Google Now does an incredible job of helping me follow my flights and travel schedule.

BND: What technology do you wish existed that doesn't?

O.S.: Teleportation! I would love to spend my days in San Francisco and my evenings in Stockholm or Tel Aviv.

BND: If you could hire one extra employee right now, what would you have that person do?

O.S.: I'm always on the hunt for great engineers. We're solving a wide variety of complex technological problems, and our Scala-based platform is quite sophisticated. There's always room for more talent.

BND: What technology do you think is most overrated?

O.S.: As someone who's worked in the payments industry for a long while, I find the fascination with Apple Pay to be premature. The payments industry is complicated and fragmented, and consumer behavior is incredibly difficult to change. I'd be faster to bet on payment technology that appeals to teenagers and takes over the world as they mature, but I've yet to see one. I don't think Bitcoin is that, either.

BND: Where do you see technology in your industry going over the next three to five years?

O.S.: I'm incredibly enthusiastic about introducing algorithmic recovery and taking recovery from the stressful call center environment into the 21st century. With regulation and advances in technology, I'm sure we'll see more large financial institutions starting to agree that recovery is yet another opportunity to retain and help your customers, and move to semi- and fully automated platforms.

BND: What's the most valuable nontech skill an entrepreneur needs?

O.S.: Learning from experience. It doesn't matter how much experience you have, there's always going to be someone with more relevant, [more] up-to-date or just better experience. Finding these people and listening to them is incredibly important. Unfortunately, for first-time entrepreneurs, there are also a lot of people who give bad advice for a living. A real expert enjoys their field so much that they will always offer some incredibly helpful tidbit before discussing compensation.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Ohad Samet's last name.

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.