The son of Iranian immigrants, Arman Hezarkhani he spent his senior year of high school thinking about a three-part thesis about what he wanted to do for his career. First, she said that education is the most influential way to make an impact on an individual, a community, and the world. Second, she believes technology is the most scalable way to spread that impact. Third and last, he believes that strong business incentives and for-profit companies specifically are the most sustainable way to make impact last, not government or non-profit organizations.
Hezarkhani’s early energy took him to Carnegie Mellon, where he studied electrical and computer engineering, and to Google, where he spent time in developer programs and Google for Education. However, when it came time to join Google full-time, he turned down the offer to create an edtech startup, one that would help young professionals like him create daily, ongoing structured learning, but without feeling like an edtech startup. homework. After all, not every high school student writes a three-part thesis, and even those who do need a way to consistently execute it.
“Anyone who tells you that people want to learn is largely wrong,” he said. “[Founders] we want to believe in the best of humanity and that people are going to spend time wanting to learn something, but we always come back to the problem of the vitamin versus the painkiller.” A large area where this exists prominently is in finance, he argues, leaving consumers in a place where they need a financial platform to help them when they’re in a rush (overspending) rather than when they’re feeling greedy (after their bankruptcy resolution). New Year). ).
Today, Hezarkhani is the CEO and founder of Parthean, a personal finance monitoring and education app that just raised $1.1 million at a $12 million valuation from investors including Litani Ventures, Gaingels, Amino Capital, Alex Morning Brew’s Lieberman, Republic Venture partner Namrata Banerjee and others. The startup also recently graduated from the Pear accelerator, a program put together by the early-stage venture firm founded in 2013.
Parthean is trying to answer a much more complex question than simple productivity software could: How do you turn consumers into better financial citizens, even if they’re largely apathetic about the education it takes to get there? ? For Hezarkhani, along with his co-founders Nikhil Choudhary and Jason Zhu, the answer lies at the intersection of fintech and edtech.
Parthean currently allows users to integrate their finances with the app, via Plaid, to display real-time financial health metrics. The data could help Parthean evolve into a platform that can offer consumers financial advice when they need it most, like budget advice after a weekend of heavy spending or investment advice after a big crypto moment. Format-wise, Parthean’s modules are broken down into bite-sized, modular videos that guide users through a complicated video, complete with quizzes and an action element, like putting money into a crypto wallet, at the end.
“The traditional learning model requires this very high level of activation energy on the part of the student; requires the student to want to learn [something] so bad that they’ll pay a certain amount of money, dedicate a team and stick with it,” he said. A simple learning flow for Parthean consists of a trigger, a recommendation, and a result. For example, the startup may notice that a user gets paid on the first of every month, resulting in high-spending activity for the first two weeks of the month, and then tries to save as much as they can in the last week. of the month
“This overspending behavior highlights the user’s need to correct their spending habits by designing a budget. So in that last week, when the need is obvious to the user, we recommend a five to ten minute budget module,” explained the founder.
It’s a lofty goal, offering advice based on a user’s time and spending habits, but one that personal finance financial technology badly needs. In the meantime, though, Parthean’s early-stage run looks more like an edtech platform than a fintech predictive engine. At this point, the app opens to an introduction to the crypto section, given by Hezarkhani himself.
Metrics and the market
Like many startups in the education sector, Parthean’s success will depend on whether it can deliver real results to users. Is success defined by saving someone money three months after using the service? Or make them fluid NFTs in 30 days? The founder said he is tracking completion rates, which currently rival cohort-based courses, and what he describes as “connection rates.” This means that part of Parthean’s progress is measured based on whether users, after completing a crypto course, end up performing the action item that is added at the end of the lesson, either setting up a crypto wallet on Coinbase or increasing your credit score. Continuing with the example above, the outcome of the goal would be for a user to design their budget in the app and Parthean helps track spending from month to month.
“That’s a metric that we can measure, whereas other edtech platforms are just content play,” he said.
Edtech and fintech have blended in the past through NerdWallet, a newly public personal finance platform that offers product recommendations on a high-margin content business. But instead of promoting credit card recommendations and then making money off referral fees, Hezarkhani believes the subscription business model is more aligned with consumer interests.
Hezarkhani said that during the fundraising process, some investors argued that the best way to make money is to base revenue on ads or lead generation. Some even told Parthean to become a bank. But he clung to the idea that there must be a third-party “ubiquitous financial partner” that consumers trust. In other words, he didn’t want to become another platform that recommends credit cards for referral cash.
“If you look at the financial market, you have crypto, you have stock investment, you have traditional retirement accounts, you have credit cards, debit cards, you even have rent, what we’ve done is we’ve said we’re not going to own no vertical here,” he said. “We are only going to own the top layer. We want to own the user’s relationship with this market. It will consolidate, it will become more competitive, but we will always be here as that layer.