After spending his final year of high school brainstorming a three-part thesis on what he wanted to devote his professional life too, Arman Hezarkhani, the son of Iranian immigrants, graduated with honors. First and foremost, he asserted that education is the most effective means of positively influencing a person, a community, and the whole globe. Secondly, he believes that using technology to distribute that influence is the most scalable method. In the third and last point, he believes that strong business incentives in general, and for-profit firms in particular, are the best sustainable approach to have an influence that will endure – rather than NGOs or governments.
As a result of his early drive, Hezarkhani attended Carnegie Mellon University, majored in electrical and computer engineering, and Google, where he worked on developer programs and Google for Education. However, when he came to join Google full time, he declined the opportunity to co-found an edtech business that would assist young professionals like himself in creating continuous, daily organized learning that did not seem like a burden. After all, not every high school student lays out a three-part thesis of aspirations and even those who do need a mechanism to follow through on their promises regularly.
“Anyone who tells you that people desire to learn is, for the most part, incorrect,” he said. Even though [founders] want to trust in the best of humanity and that people would devote time to learning something new, they continually return to the issue of vitamins vs. painkillers.” He claims that finance is one of the most prominent areas where this is prevalent, placing customers in a position where they want a financial platform that assists them when they have a fever (overspend) rather than when they are feeling ambitious (following their New Year’s resolve).
Hezarkhani is currently the CEO and founder of Parthian, a personal finance monitoring and education app that recently raised $1.1 million at a $12 million valuation from investors such as Litani Ventures, Gaingels, Amino Capital, Morning Brew’s Alex Lieberman, Republic Ventures partner Namrata Banerjee, and other angel investors. Aside from that, the business just graduated from the Pear accelerator, which was created by the seed-stage venture firm, which was launched in 2013.
Rather than just providing productivity software, Parthean is attempting to tackle a much more challenging question: how do you transform customers into better financial citizens – even if they are ambivalent about the information required to do so? It is at the convergence of fintech and education technology, according to Hezarkhani and his co-founders Nikhil Choudhary and Jason Zhu, the solution may be discovered.
In its current state, Parthean allows users to link their accounts with the app using Plaid, which then displays real-time financial health measures. The data might aid Parthean in its development into a platform that can provide users with financial advice when they need it the most, such as budgeting recommendations after a weekend of overspending or investing advice after a significant cryptocurrency event. Parthean modules are divided into bite-sized, modular movies that guide consumers through a challenging video — with quizzes and an action item, such as depositing money into a cryptocurrency wallet, at the conclusion of the video.
To succeed in the conventional learning paradigm, the student must have a high degree of activation energy on their side. “It needs the student to want to learn [something] so badly that they are willing to spend a certain amount of money, devote a team, and stay with it,” he said. Simple learning flows for Parthean consist of three components: a trigger, advice, and a result. Suppose a startup observes that a user gets paid on the first of every month. In that case, it may conclude that this leads to heavy spending activity during the first two weeks of the month and that the user then attempts to save as much as possible during the last week of the month, for example.
“This overspending tendency emphasizes the necessity for the user to correct their spending patterns by creating a budget,” says the author. As a result, in the last week, when the user’s need for budgeting becomes clear, we offer a five- to a ten-minute session on budgeting,” stated the creator.
The aim is challenging — providing users with financial advice based on their spending and saving patterns — but it is one that personal finance technology desperately needs. Meanwhile, Parthean’s early-stage execution seems to be more akin to an edtech platform than a predictive fintech engine, according to the company. At the moment, the app opens to an introduction to the cryptography part, which Hezarkhani himself teaches.
Metrics and the market
Parthean’s success, like that of many other education-related firms, will be determined by its ability to offer consumers meaningful results. Do you consider saving someone money three months after utilizing the service to be a successful outcome? Alternatively, how about making them NFT-fluent in 30 days? The creator said that he is measuring completion rates, which he claims are comparable to those of cohort-based courses, as well as what he refers to as “connection rates.” This implies that a portion of Parthean’s success is determined by whether consumers, after completing a crypto course, go on to meet the action item that has been added onto the end of the lesson, whether it’s setting up a crypto wallet on Coinbase or improving their credit score, among other things. For example, in the above scenario, the desired result would be that a user builds their budget on the app and that Parthean assists them in tracking their expenditure from month to month.
According to him, “it’s a statistic that we can quantify, while other edtech platforms are just content plays.”
NerdWallet, a newly public personal financial platform that gives product recommendations on top of a high-margin content company, is an example of how edtech and fintech have come together in the past. Hezarkhani, on the other hand, believes that the subscription business model is better aligned with customers’ interests than promoting credit card recommendations and then generating money off referral fees.
Hezarkhani said that throughout the fundraising process, some investors believed that the most profitable way to generate money was to rely on advertising or lead generating income as a source of revenue. Some others even advised Parthean to open a bank. However, he remained firm on the notion that there should be a third-party “omnipresent financial partner” who customers can trust. To put it another way, he didn’t want to become just another platform that suggests credit cards in exchange for referral money.
In the financial market, “you have crypto, you have stock investing, you have traditional retirement accounts, you have credit cards, you have debit cards, you have rent — what we’ve done is we’ve stated that we are not going to own any vertical here,” he explained. “We’re not going to own any vertical here.” “We’re just going to be in charge of the top layer.” We want to control the user’s connection with this market and make it our own. It will solidify, it will get more competitive, but we will always be there as a layer in the process.”