This week, TAG hosted an event at Mercedes Benz Stadium called #FintechSouth. In addition to honoring some heavy hitting players in the Atlanta FinTech space, TAG held a pitch contest for new fintech startups. The winner of the pitch contest is Qoins, a two-man startup that began as a great idea with a horrible name at Pitch Practice. Here’s the story of Qoins.

Practice Your Pitch

Almost exactly two years ago, May 13, 2016, Christian Zimmerman came to Pitch Practice for the first time. He was working as a marketing rep at HireWire at Atlanta Tech Village at the time.  Christian pitched his idea called “Consolidebt”. Below is my description of that first pitch.

Consolidebt – There is $3.4 TRILLION in consumer debt in the US today. Why not use your spare change to pay down your debt? Consolidebt is targeting consumers who are in debt and who want to pay off that debt. They are looking for developers to build the prototype and banking expertise to help with the intricacies of bank integration. Consolidebt takes 1% of every debt payment.

This description came after a lot of discussion about Christian’s pitch. His actual pitch was a very complicate description of how he would capture funds and distribute them to outstanding debts using complicated FinTech tools. As I recall, it took all that discussion for the audience to really understand what he was doing.

“Seeing Qoins turn from an idea to an actual product that’s made an impact on many people’s lives is super humbling. It’s crazy to think it all started by practicing on my pitch.”

Qoins solves a real problem

We did, however, understand the problem very quickly: millennials’ college loan debt is out of control. That’s the important part. How he solves the problem is the discussion for the next meeting.

That was two years ago. Since then, Christian has experienced just about every kind of adversity (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • Change the name of the company
  • Search for a co-founder (Nate Washington)
  • Quit your day job
  • Build the MVP
  • Get your first few beta users
  • Have open heart surgery
  • Have an infection after open heart surgery
  • Rent out your car with Turo to pay your bills
  • Totally change the back end of your service
  • Get to 5000 paying customers
  • Win $50k of non-dilutive cash in a pitch contest

Overnight Success

And it only took 2 years. See? The struggle of entrepreneurship is real, and Christian is living and has lived it very well and with gusto over the last 24 months. But it all started with his guts to take his idea and say it out loud in front of a group of people who didn’t know him and weren’t afraid to hurt his feelings.

After pitching “Consolidebt”, Christian came back the following week with Qoins. The rest is history, but Christian and his CTO/Co-Founder Nate have $50k in the bank and a very bright future.

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