Celebrating Self's 9th Anniversary: Major Milestones

By Jackie Lam, AFC®
Published on: 05/28/2024

Saying that a lot can happen in nine years is an understatement. Navigating the ever-changing economic climate and finding opportunities to serve those who can benefit most can help a company grow even during the most dynamic times.

And since 2015, Self has been evolving and innovating to provide tools and resources to create access to credit and the opportunity for consumers to establish or rebuild their credit history and credit score.

To celebrate our upcoming 9th anniversary, we'll take a look at some of our major milestones and reflect on how much we’ve grown over the past nine years.

June 2015: Self Lender founded by James Garvey

Self started in 2015 when founder James Garvey's credit score plummeted after accidentally failing to pay a credit card. Searching for a way to rebuild his credit, he discovered the hurdles that millions with low or no credit faced.

Without credit, it's hard to build credit. Navigating a system where the cards are stacked against many is a struggle. James set out to create a product that would help people build their credit and grow their savings, no matter their bank balance or credit history.

March 2018: Self mobile app launch

The team at Self was busy conceptualizing, designing and building the first iteration of its mobile app. In 2018, Self rolled out its mobile app on the Google Play and Apple App Store. To date, there have been over 1 million downloads on Google Play and a 4.9 star rating on the Apple App Store with over 250,000 reviews.

Currently, with the Self app, you have everything you need at your fingertips to build credit and take it to the next level, such as reporting your rent payments, reporting utility payments for more credit history, and growing your credit and savings with the Credit Builder Account.*


August 2019: Self Lender becomes Self Financial

Self Lender rebrands as Self Financial to be more in step with its continued commitment to its customers—supporting their financial goals in all aspects of their lives. Whether it's through tools to help elevate credit or to build more savings, the end goal is to help as many people as possible have greater access to credit. Ultimately, it's about being armed with what you need to lay the foundation for a stronger financial future.

September 2019: Self launches Self Visa® Credit Card

After helping equip consumers with tools to add to their savings and build credit, Self launches the secured Self Visa® Credit Card.** Builders with a Credit Builder Account who have made on-time monthly payments, have at least $100 in savings progress, and are in good standing can level up with this secured card.

Unlike other secured credit cards, no additional funds are required for your security deposit. Your credit builder account savings progress is used as your security deposit.

February 2020: Self named one of the Best Fintech Places to Work

Financial Technology awards Self the honor of being one of the Best Places to Work in 2020. The annual awards program identifies, pays recognition to, and honors the very best of the best employers in the fintech industry.

Self is included among 49 companies and got notable nods in prestigious publications and brands such as American Banker, Financial Planning, and DigitalInsurance.

July 2020: Self named Best Venture-Backed Fintech Startup

Wealth & Finance Magazine's FinTech Awards recognizes Self as the top Venture-Backed Fintech Startup in 2020. The award honors startups that are redefining finance and banking for the modern consumer. The FinTech Awards is an exclusive program that celebrates leaders in the industry.

In 2020, Self raised $20 million in a Series C in February and an additional $40 million in December of that year. In the first four years since Self was founded, the company saw a spike in its active customer base increase to 250% and expanded its team from 50 to 115.

2020–2022: Self makes American Banker’s Best Places to Work in Fintech

For three years in a row, Self received kudos on making a select list of the best fintech companies to work for.

Self was selected among hundreds of companies as one of the final 49 workplaces offering competitive pay and benefits, transparent management, a supportive, positive environment, and employees who feel a sense of belonging.

2022–2023: Self recognized in 100 Best Places to Work in Austin

Built in Austin recognizes Self as one of the top startups and tech companies to be employed at. Based on over 50 criteria on compensation and employer benefits data, Self got kudos in areas such as hiring practices that promote diversity, mentorship programs, and a flexible work schedule.

February 2022: Self acquires RentTrack to offer credit reporting for rent and utility payments

Through the acquisition of RentTrack/LevelCredit, Self expands into credit reporting for rent and utilities. RentTrack was the first company of its kind to enable rent payments reporting to all three credit bureaus through property managers, while LevelCredit helps customers build credit through water, gas, cell phone, rent, and electric bill payments.

April 2022: Self becomes the first consumer credit company to report rent payments to all three major credit bureaus

For those who have no or little credit history, Self becomes the first consumer credit company to report rent payments to all three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This means granting more ways for those historically denied access to credit opportunities to elevate their score without needing to open a credit card.

April 2022: Self partners with Moody Center ATX

Deepening its commitment to its hometown, Self becomes a proud sponsor of the Moody Center. Austin's iconic, state-of-the-art entertainment arena hosts some of the world's top entertainment acts. The first floor is dubbed the “Self Concourse” and features the Self logo and signage throughout and on the Dream Builder stairs. These stairs are a reminder of Self's mission of helping Self customers build their dreams, day-by-day and step-by-step.

June 2022: Self becomes the official San Antonio Spurs jersey patch sponsor

Builders unite! Self enters a multi-year jersey patch partnership with the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs debuted the branded jerseys at the 2022 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. The jerseys were also proudly worn in the 2022 and 2023 preseason and regular season games.

December 2022: Self adds rent and utility reporting to its credit-building tools

Self officially adds rent and utility reporting*** to its toolkit of credit-building products. There's no credit check to get started. Builders can choose from Self's flagship Credit Builder Account, the secured Self Visa® credit card, and building credit via rent and utility payment reporting.

Besides the ability to report rent and utility payments, Builders (what Self calls its customers) also have up to $1 million in identity theft and restoration, instant alerts, and a monthly credit score and summary.

December 2022: Self launches its first branded podcast

In collaboration with Acast, a leading podcast company, Self kicks off a podcast on all things financial wellness. Featuring personal stories with guests like comedian Naomi Ekperigin and actor Tristan “Mack” Wilds covering topics such as money mindsets and hard-learned financial lessons, these are real stories by real people.

April 2023: Self podcast honored with a Hermes Creative Award

The Self podcast was recognized as a Platinum Award winner of the Hermes Creative Awards. An international competition for creative professionals, Hermes honors creators that offer powerful messages on different media platforms.

October 2023: Self appoints Julie Szudarek as Chief Executive Officer

After an extensive search, Self proudly appoints Julie Szudarek as its new CEO. James Garvey will continue to support the company through his role on the board.

Szudarek has over two decades of experience in leadership roles in highly regulated and mission-driven companies. Her prior roles include CEO of Atida, one of Europe's leading pharmaceutical companies, and President, International at Groupon. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the insurance company Root, Inc., which aims to level the playing field for those who are seeking more affordable car insurance.

December 2023: Self launches free rent reporting to the three major credit bureaus

In response to tough economic conditions impacting millions of Americans, Self begins to offer rent reporting to all three credit bureaus–for free. Plus, builders can level up by adding utility payments to TransUnion for an additional $6.95 a month.

*Credit Builder Accounts & Certificates of Deposit made/held by Lead Bank, Sunrise Banks, N.A., SouthState Bank, N.A., First Century Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. Subject to credit approval.

**Self Visa® Credit Card issued by Lead Bank, First Century Bank, N.A., or SouthState Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. See Self.inc for details.

***Individual results vary. You may not receive an improved credit score. Other factors, including activity with other creditors, may impact results. Not all lenders, including auto and mortgage lenders, use scores impacted by rent, cell & utility payments. Not all bill payments may be eligible.

About the author

A personal finance writer for over 8 years, Jackie Lam covers money management, lending, insurance, investing, and banking, and personal stories. An AFC® accredited financial coach, she is passionate about helping freelance creatives design money systems on irregular income, gain greater awareness of their money narratives, and overcome mental and emotional blocks.

Her work has appeared in publications such as Bankrate, Time's NextAdvisor, CNET, Forbes, Salon.com, and BuzzFeed. She is the 2022 recipient of Money Management International's Financial Literacy and Education in Communities (FLEC) Award, and a two-time Plutus Awards nominee for Best Freelancer in Personal Finance Media. She lives in Los Angeles where she spends her free time swimming, drumming, and daydreaming about stickers.

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Written on May 28, 2024
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings.

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