Dorm Room Fund is excited to announce our investment in Sequin Financial, a company building a suite of credit card products re-imagined for the modern, empowered woman. Sequin was born out of founder Vrinda Gupta’s own experience applying for and being rejected from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, one of the most popular credit cards built on the platform she had spent multiple years designing, launching, and scaling at Visa. Sequin’s broader mission is to make credit more approachable and engaging for women, addressing the gender gap in access to affordable credit over time.
Why Women Need Their Own Credit Card
Sequin’s goal is to level the playing field by re-imagining the credit card to place women’s needs front and center. Women don’t just earn less at work, they also pay more when shopping due to the “pink tax,” or the amount by which products for women are priced higher relative to the men’s equivalent. The pink tax can cost a woman an additional $1,350 per year, according to conservative estimates. These factors, in addition to critical inputs like credit utilization and length of credit history, contribute to a seven-point gender-based differential in credit score. That’s right, the gender gap also makes borrowing more expensive for women. Even with a similar credit score, access to credit is not equal. For example, when Kara Goldin, CEO and founder of Hint, applied for a credit card at the same level of income and the same credit score as her husband, she was granted only half his credit limit. David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, related a similar story about Apple Card denying his spouse credit despite having a better credit score, plus other beneficial factors, relative to him.
Additionally, women were only granted the right to a credit card 45 years ago, so credit cards were not designed with women in mind. Top credit cards give rewards in categories in which men spend more (airline miles, hotel and dining points, etc.), whereas women spend up to 60% more in categories such as clothing, subscription services, and beauty. These happen to be the same categories that are subject to the pink tax.
As a result of these gender-based barriers to credit, it’s no surprise that women tend to prefer debit cards. The problem is most debit cards do not build a credit history, protect against fraud as effectively, or allow users to earn rewards. Sequin founder, Vrinda Gupta, has found that women want to use credit and be more in control of their finances, but current credit card offerings aren’t accessible and don’t reward women with benefits that actually match their lifestyles.
The Solution is Sequin
Sequin is a credit card designed for women, by women. Sequin will provide transparency into the credit approval process and will allow users to receive cashback and rewards on products from categories subject to the pink tax. Repayments will be simple and flexible, ensuring a greater level of control than most credit cards. It’s also stylish and personal (the card is a mirror engraved with the user’s name), a symbol of confidence and control.
Why Dorm Room Fund Invested
- Founder Velocity: Since we first spoke with Vrinda about Sequin, we’ve been blown away with how much she has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. Vrinda spends every second thinking about how to make Sequin a reality, from assembling an impressive advisory board while incubating at IDEO to participating in Visa’s Fast Track Program and spreading her message across the country. There is also a strong founder-market fit given Vrinda’s experience and expertise in the credit card industry.
- Mission Alignment: At Dorm Room Fund, we strongly believe in diversity and inclusion (check out our Blueprint Project and Female Founder Track) and Vrinda’s mission to increase financial inclusion by empowering women resonates strongly with our team. Vrinda is clearly tackling a real and timely pain point that people care about deeply. It also provides an opportunity to partner with other female-founded companies in the Dorm Room Fund community to provide rewards or discounts on products and services that help women look, feel, and be their best.
- User-Centric Approach to a Massive Market: Sequin aims to increase the appeal of building, using, and engaging with credit, especially for millennial women, who spend $170B annually. In targeting this market, Vrinda is taking a user-centric approach — starting with an appealing “by women, for women” value proposition, rewards that should drive adoption and repeated usage, and a long term strategy that aims to correct for this industry-wide discrepancy in credit card access and design.
Sequin exemplifies so much of what we love about Dorm Room Fund: we get to back incredible student founders working to build a better, more equitable future. We’re thrilled to back Vrinda and look forward to supporting her as she empowers modern women to take control of their financial future.
Written by Justine Humenansky, DRF Partner (Bay Area). Follow her on Medium and Twitter.
Get more Dorm Room Fund news and updates on Twitter and learn more on our website. Want more DRF content? Subscribe to our newsletter and podcast. Ready to take your startup to the next level? Apply here to be considered for an investment from Dorm Room Fund. Until next time! 🚀