Jared Hecht is an eager entrepreneur. In 2010, he co-founded GroupMe, a mobile messaging platform, and in just over a year, he and his partner successfully sold it to Skype for $85 million. This was less than a year after Hecht finished his education at Columbia University in New York, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
After testing the waters of angel investing, he returned to the business of developing and launching a startup — this time in the budding online lending industry. He launched Fundera in 2013, inspired by lending challenges faced by small businesses, including his own family members. The company has gone on to successfully fund over $1 billion in loans, without the backing of traditional banking institutions. Now, still barely a decade removed from Columbia, Hecht is once again in the enviable position of successfully selling a booming company, with online financial services company NerdWallet acquiring Fundera, staff-and-all.
The path Hecht is currently traversing is not the one he envisioned during his time at Columbia. After working as managing director and publisher for Inside New York, the university’s storied guidebook, he landed a gig in business development with Tumblr—during a time of major growth for the site. This brief stint sparked the entrepreneurial flame in Hecht, and after brainstorming with Steve Martocci during a company hackathon, the two left Tumblr to develop and launch GroupMe. After selling the company to Skype, Microsoft acquired the video conferencing company, bringing GroupMe—and Hecht—along for the ride. However, the budding businessman knew that he wanted to start another venture, but with his amassed knowledge in tow. Beyond chasing success and helping small businesses, with Fundera, Hecht hopes to make a notable impact on the company’s employees, which explains the unlimited PTO and generous parental leave, among other staff incentives.
NerdWallet’s acquisition of Fundera bridges a gap between individual consumers and small business, which helps to fulfill Hecht’s desire to make a difference in the world while he’s making money. He also fulfills this need through an extensive side career in writing about entrepreneurship with publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur. His insight comes from a place of experience and timing, some of the same good fortune that has driven a number of successful millennials.