At this year’s FUND Conference in Chicago, Illinois, over 100 startups presented their early-stage companies in front of hundreds of investors and industry leaders. FUND is a national connector of entrepreneurs, VCs, angel investors, and industry experts with a focus on deal flow and making connections.
The startups ranked most highly by investors and startup enthusiasts in terms of scalability and longevity received votes on how well they connected with investors. Today The Startup Magazine features another of the FUND Top 3 Exhibitor winners, Digs.
Here is their story…
Describe the Digs product/service in 10 words or less
Digs is an educational savings app for first-time homebuyers.
Excellent. Give us a little more detail about what Digs does?
Digs is a savings product that helps renters transition into homeownership. It offers a contribution matching program that rewards people who are proactively saving their own FDIC insured funds. As people save in the app, Digs educates them on the home buying process and when the time comes to buy, Digs offers personalized mortgage recommendations.
What inspired you to start Digs?
My co-founder (Chad Johnson) and I are both architecture graduates, so housing has always been a passion of ours. I am a homeowner, but Chad is a renter, and one day we got talking about ways to assist renters in their journey to become homeowners. We knew there were rent-to-own programs out there, but most have a bad reputation, due to some scams. So we were determined to find a better way of doing things.
Is this the first company you guys founded?
Nope. In 2013, Chad and I founded Build Abroad, a nonprofit organization that builds homes in developing countries. We have sent hundreds of volunteers to help communities in need, all the way from Haiti to Nepal. I guess it’s only fitting that Digs deals housing too. It seems to be a common theme in the companies we start.
How is Digs impacting the world/your clients?
Our company is making a huge impact on a generation that is struggling to save. Many people think that millennials want to rent forever, but that’s simply not the case. It’s just that that do not have enough saved for a downpayment. Apartment List recently came out with a survey that shows 80% of millennial renters want to buy a home in the near future, yet 68% have less than $1,000 saved for a downpayment.
On top of the trouble people have saving, they are intimidated by the complex homebuying process, which is tied to their lack of knowledge on mortgages. Our product educates people as they save, and by doing this, saving for a home doesn’t seem so daunting. Our product is designed to give people a nudge in the right direction, and through using it, reach homeownership sooner than they expected.
Has going through the process of trying to raise capital impacted your vision and strategy for your business? If so, how?
Raising capital hasn’t changed our vision, but it has taught us how to be scrappy. Like many startups, we were self-funded and had to launch an MVP that wasn’t the product we had in our minds. But this allowed us to learn more about our users and real estate customers. I also think that funding the product ourselves made us improve how we monetize the product. When it’s your money on the line, you find a way to make it work. Now that we have outside investors, we were able to build our product the way we always wanted, and have a refined business strategy. Overall I think that is going to benefit us in the long run.
Sounds like you’re off to a good start. Thank you Digs.
HQ Location: Chicago, Illinois
Company Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/digsco
Company Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/digs_co
Company LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/company/digsco