Jason Huynh loves solving problems — especially ones where he can apply mathematical formulas and principles to real-world scenarios.
His pursuit to tackle complex problems has been a guiding light throughout his career, and eventually led him to join Tally. After graduating from Stanford University with a bachelors and masters degree in chemical engineering at age 21, Jason joined Capital One at the start of the Great Recession in 2008. He was drawn to the prospect of navigating the subprime mortgage crisis at a company that was on the front line.
“I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to reverse-engineer a financial product that would instead optimize benefits for the people using the product.”
— Jason Huynh
Starting out in the collections department, he quickly moved up the ranks from being an analyst to becoming one of the youngest directors ever at Capital One. He learned firsthand how credit card debt was rarely caused by irresponsibility. Most of the time, people were in financially vulnerable situations and had to make a hard choice between a terrible and even-worse financial decision.
But in Jason’s role at that time, his responsibility was to protect the company, not people. What his experience at Capital One taught him was that the current financial system in the U.S. was intentionally designed to create debt and keep people in debt. This system has been very effective. Today, Americans collectively owe nearly a trillion dollars in credit card debt alone.
Jason was immediately drawn to Tally’s mission to help people become less stressed and better off financially. It inspired the next problem that he wanted to tackle: Can a successful business be created around a financial product that’s designed to effectively and efficiently help people pay off their debt for good?
“I knew how to play the game from the inside,” he says. “I knew exactly how the financial institutions optimized profits from their customers and all the hidden tricks they used. I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to reverse-engineer a financial product that would instead optimize benefits for the people using the product.”
When Jason joined Tally, he knew that simply creating an app to manage credit card payments wasn’t enough to make a real impact. Instead, Tally needed to give people an immediate boost to help pay down a large share of their highest-interest debt, lower their interest rates, and simplify their payments. Tally also needed to provide protection against the financial traps that trigger higher interest payments and fees.
As Tally CEO and Co-Founder Jason Brown often recalls, “Jason possesses a rare mix of empathy for people trying to pay off debt, deep knowledge of the finance industry and the genius needed to solve America’s credit card debt problem. I knew almost instantly that he would be the key to turning our vision for Tally into a real product.”
Jason solved this problem by innovating a new financial product. On the surface, Tally extended a line of credit to qualifying users and gave them the boost they needed to get out of debt for good. Under the hood, Jason created complex algorithms to support Tally’s intuitive app and to solve for the most harmful and painful parts of using credit cards.
“Jason possesses a rare mix of empathy for people trying to pay off debt, deep knowledge of the finance industry and the genius needed to solve America’s credit card debt problem.”
— Jason Brown, Tally CEO
Simultaneously, Jason made the early decision to build all of the technical and financial infrastructure to support this financial product from scratch in-house. A more typical move for a consumer finance startup would have been to immediately partner with a bank and white-label existing software. This would have allowed the company to optimize for growth and revenue quickly. Instead, Tally decided to focus its first three years on innovating its core product — a long-term investment that proved critical in 2020.
“We never imagined the fast and far-reaching impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but we knew economic recessions are cyclical, often happening every seven to ten years. We wanted to build a company that would endure, and more importantly, we wanted our product to be able to help people when they would need us the most.”
So despite 2020’s uncertainty and unpredictability, Tally has been able to adapt and thrive thanks to Jason’s early strategic foresight and deeply ingrained empathy for people dealing with credit card debt.