Many college graduates face a Catch-22: They can’t get credit because they don’t have credit histories and they don’t have credit histories because they can’t get credit. Without a FICO score, getting a loan seems elusive.

Startup lender Upstart, however, is more interested in GPAs than FICO scores. The company focuses on consumers’ education, area of study, college or university, employee, and job more than old-fashioned FICO figures, says Mike Osborn, CMO. Data shows there’s a strong correlation between educational performances and, ultimately, job performance, he says, and that is a strong predictor of an individual’s likelihood of repaying a loan.

“We rely heavily on a lot of non-traditional data sources to make our credit decisions,” says Osborn.

Upstart, which was founded by ex-Googlers, also relies on analytics to market its services to its primary customer base: Millennials. The firm’s team of data scientists uses machine learning, econometrics, and computer science and diverse data sources including social media activity and how individuals actually apply for credit to target groups within its market, he says.

This granular approach allows Upstart to market to precise segments, not all 50 million Americans who have short or zero credit histories, says Osborn. For example, it reaches out to recent software engineering graduates and immigrants with technology jobs through its campaigns, he says.

As Upstart’s underwriting model gets smarter and uncovers more data sources, it will uncover more targets and more marketing approaches, says Osborn. In fact, the company’s approach calls for frequently reinventing its model through its discovery and use of data sources as well as past results, he says.

Although analytics are a critical component of Upstart’s marketing, many CMOs lack expertise in this area, says Osborn.

“Building world-class analytics is absolutely a core component of building out marketing for the future. From my experience, the vast majority of CMOs or marketing executives are ill-suited to drive that transformation,” he says. “When you look at the household names on the consumer side … the marketing career paths in those companies almost always came up through the creative side. They didn’t have accountability for the day-to-day results they could or should have.”

Know you need analytics but don’t know where to start? Begin by joining VB analyst Jon Cifuentes at this not-to-be-missed webinar. Cifuentes will take attendees through the most important takeaways from VB’s report, including the range of tools and platforms that are relied on for data — from audience insights and ad effectiveness to mobile analytics and cross-platform management.

He’ll be joined by experts in the field including Ken Davis, EasyTask CEO, Mike Osborn, CMO of Upstart, and Ware Sykes, CEO of Nowait who will share inside strategies and tips.

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What you’ll learn:

  • The value marketers can reap from analytics
  • How to measure ROI from your analytics investment
  • Ways to get c-level and board buy-in for your analytics infrastructure
  • Hurdles to avoid
  • Must-have software features


Ken Davis, CEO, EasyTask

Mike Osborn, CMO, Upstart

Ware Sykes, CEO, Nowait

Jon Cifuentes, Research Analyst, VentureBeat


Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat