Q&A with Carlos Garca, Founder and CEO of Finhabits

Carlos Garcia is the CEO and Founder of Finhabits, the leading bilingual money app designed for the Latinos' financial success. In this Q&A with Launch With GS, Carlos shares the personal inspiration behind his company, his views on the power of community, and how he plans to achieve his goal to empower 60 million Latinos through the Finhabits platform.

How did you get started? What motivated you to start your company?

I had just turned 35, my father told me that he was retiring with no savings, and my wife gave me the good news she was pregnant. After starting and building two companies on the institutional side of finance, I felt a strong need to create a financial platform that I wish my family and I had access to. Growing up, I remember not ever discussing retirement savings at the dinner table. When I got my first job after college, I had no clue what a 401(k) was. I realized my misunderstanding of retirement savings and other financial products was common among the Latino community. This is what motivated me to start Finhabits.

What has been the most exciting moment of building your business? The most challenging?

Each month, one million Latinos watch our videos on investing, how to improve your credit score and how to buy your first home. The most exciting moments are when I hear success stories from our clients and about how they are transforming their financial lives through Finhabits.

We operate in highly regulated industries and we provide a platform for our users to invest, save for retirement, and get insured. This requires a deep understanding of these industries and requires us to stay on top of any changes to regulations.

What are you most excited about over the next 6-12 months?

Finhabits started with retirement savings and we are now launching health insurance. When compared to other communities, Latinos have lower adoption rates in both, retirement savings and health insurance coverage. We are very excited about our potential impact in the Latino community using education and easy access to affordable healthcare insurance. In the near future, we are also very excited about launching our banking services to provide Latinos with access to capital.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

I took this from a Howard Marks’ letter. He said that to make outsized returns you have to be different and you have to be right, but difference is uncomfortable. When I started Finhabits, most investors I talked to said to me: “this idea is going to require a lot of money,” “there is a reason why middle-market financial products are expensive.” Finhabits is different because we built a community with a platform that scales and that engages with users in a two-way conversation. This is not trust you can buy. This is trust you must build. And we have built it.

What has the Launch With GS Entrepreneur Cohort experience been like for you?

The Launch with GS Entrepreneur Cohort is an opportunity for Finhabits to compare notes with other entrepreneurs, seek advice and discuss strategy from mentors in your field, explore partnership opportunities, and build relationships with investors. The best part is that we get paired with amazing coverage teams that have a real passion to seeing you succeed and get the most out of this experience.

Building a successful company does not happen overnight, walk us through your journey.

Finhabits started with a big goal: to empower the 60 million Latinos in the U.S. to live with financial independence. It’s a big goal! We started providing them with access to retirement savings via a mobile app. We first launched in Texas and, as we continued to expand to other states, we focused on harnessing the power of data to build a successful one-to-one relationship with our customers. For example, a first generation Mexican Latino from California thinks about money very differently than a third generation Cuban American from Florida. Knowing the diversity of Latino experiences in the US and how they relate to the cultural diversity of Latin America gave us an advantage of incorporating Latino perspectives from the start. We not only had to build the app in native Spanish; we also had to design data analytic tools to capture details about different Latino groups and to provide the right offer based on their differences. Today, as we continue to expand our products and services offered on our platform, we are able to customize the app experiences for our members and this helps us achieve a higher conversion rate.