In continuing our celebration of 100 years of co-education at William & Mary, we spoke to Rhian Horgan '99 to learn more about her entrepreneurial success and the impact her W&M experience has had on her career in business. Horgan is the founder and CEO of Kindur, "a new kind of retirement company that helps baby boomers automate their retirement income and reimagine financial wellness." Prior to starting Kindur, Horgan was a Managing Director at JP Morgan where she oversaw client solutions and led product development globally for JP Morgan Asset Management Alternative Investments, a $120 billion alternative asset manager.
Could you tell us about your background before you went to William & Mary? Where did you grow up? How has this shaped the person you are today and the company you've started?
"I spent much of my childhood in Ireland and England, moving to the states in the 80s and ultimately attending William & Mary. Watching my parents move to the United States from Ireland in pursuit of the American dream has shaped my perspective on what it really means to work hard. My parents' story is actually what inspired me to start Kindur - after watching them work so hard throughout their adult lives, I was determined to make sure they'd be able to retire comfortably."
What inspired you to start Kindur?
"Most Americans have been on their own when it comes to retirement planning. Yet as baby boomers near retirement, the intersection of health, financial, government benefit and insurance decisions can make it very difficult for people to DIY this process. Watching my own parents go through this inspired me to create a holistic retirement solution to better inform the decision-making process for those in or near retirement. Kindur's platform is uniquely positioned to guide customers through all of their retirement decisions by providing a full suite of services in one centralized location specifically designed for baby boomers."
Could you describe what Kindur is? How is it different from other retirement planning companies?
"Kindur's biggest advantage is our ability to cut across industry silos to provide customers a clear and comprehensive approach to modern retirement. We aren't constrained by legacy barriers built for a different generation's retirement, and we've done that hard work on our end so when it comes time to retirement, the customer doesn't have to. Kindur's retirement paycheck is the ultimate simplification of retirement; we offer our customers both guaranteed income and a flexible retirement paycheck, tailored to their needs, empowering them to feel confident in their day-to-day spending and long-term security. This is designed to replicate the pay structure that most adults are used to during their working lives, and we find makes retirement simpler and less stressful."
How have you gotten baby boomers to utilize technology when they tend to be apprehensive of doing so?
"Baby boomers are much more fluent with technology than many people think. 82% of baby boomers belong to at least one social media site and embrace many of the same digital brands that I use every day. Kindur is digitally transforming how our customer manages their retirement decisions and we've been committed to creating a user experience that our target user understands and embraces."
How did you go about acquiring investment funds? What were some of the biggest challenges and success associated with raising capital?
"Since our seed round last fall, we've stayed close to a group of fintech/insurtech investors who really believed in our mission. They have supported us with intros to critical resources and were natural partners for the next stage of our business.
One particular challenge is that there are very few venture-based products being built for our target customer. This meant spending a lot of time helping investors understand how our customer, i.e. baby boomers, engages with technology and the financial intricacies of the problem we are solving. We also wanted to make sure they understood where shortfalls under the current system exist and how we would tackle this vastly unmet need."
Where do you see both yourself and Kindur in the next five years?
"Success for us means we're delivering the same quality, tailored advice to baby boomers across the country as I gave my own parents. That's why I started this company and I'm more confident than ever that now is the time to fix this disjointed system by putting baby boomers in the driver seat with the right advice, the right products like low-cost ETFs and simple annuities and access to their information."
Why did you choose to attend William & Mary?
"During the application process I knew I wanted to be on the east coast at a mid-size university. When I came to campus, I fell in love! The students were so authentic, enthusiastic about their coursework, involved on campus (unlike anywhere else I had been), and all around nice people. Of course the beautiful campus was icing on the cake."
How has your time at William & Mary influenced you in the years since you graduated? Did anything you learned at William & Mary help you launch Kindur? What skills/takeaways from college have proved most useful?
"When I was at William & Mary I became involved, unexpectedly, in student government. This quickly taught me the value of listening to your peers, solving problems, and importantly, being creative during times when purse strings are tight. I also learned that we had to be in the game to win it - no more talking, actions mattered. This is very much like being at a startup. You test and learn, listen to your customers and persevere through the highs and lows. You can't be afraid of 'failing'."
Are any of your memorable/favorite professors still teaching at W&M? If so, whom? Why were they so memorable to you?
"My advisor for Public Policy was Professor Morrow. His style of teaching made you sit up and be engaged in class. That was where I started to find my own voice! And in the business school, Professor Haltiner (now also Co-Director of the Boehly Center) was my first professor (in Intro to Accounting). His class was an epiphany for me - it was the first time I saw how my coursework could be used in the 'real world'. Ultimately I realized that accounting wasn't my calling (after struggling through Intermediate Accounting!) but Professor Haltiner never doubted me and encouraged me to pursue a degree in finance instead. The rest is history!"
Of everything you've done, what are you most proud of?
"We don't always get everything at Kindur right the first time - product features take iterations and sometimes we change our mind about the best way to deliver for the customer. However, I'm incredibly proud of the talented and diverse team we've built to deliver a product that will truly better the lives of our users. My leadership team is 50% female - an uncommon reality in the fintech space. I'm committed to continuing to do things the right way as we grow and expand and am incredibly energized by what lies ahead."
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
"The most important thing is that you are passionate about the problem you're trying to solve or the opportunity you want to address. I left my career at JP Morgan because I knew that I had to find a way to deliver the same quality, tailored advice to millions of baby boomers out there who didn't happen to have a child or family member who worked in financial services and could spend the time working through their retirement plan. For Kindur, I believe there is both a problem in need of a solution and an incredible untapped opportunity for our company."
This year, we are celebrating 100 years of women at William & Mary. Could you speak to your experience as a successful female entrepreneur?
"Whether it be financial services or the tech industry, there is no debating that there is an issue with diversity - gender, ethnicity...the list goes on. As a founder I had the unique opportunity to build my company from the ground up. We've been purposeful about prioritizing diversity as we believe that for our customers, diversity is our best chance of doing things differently. Whether this be gender, ethnicity, citizenship, sexual preference or diversity of career background and thought, we believe we are stronger because of the team we have built. But it isn't easy. You have to be more creative when sourcing talent and resist taking the quick road to filling job openings."
Although her work may directly focus on empowering baby boomers, Horgan is certainly paving the way for women in business and we are eager to see where Kindur takes her in the coming years.