Since the beginning, our mission at EarnUp has been about helping people. More specifically we are focused on helping the over 200 million indebted Americans manage their loan payments and ultimately get out of debt.

This is a massive problem that need solving and we know we can’t do this alone. That is why we partner with several amazing organizations that share similar goals. One of these organizations is GreenPath Financial Wellness—a non-profit organization focused on empowering people to lead financially healthy lives.

Over the past year and a half, EarnUp and GreenPath have been working together to bring a scalable long-term technology solution to the thousands of people in need of financial guidance. GreenPath recently published a report on our partnership and what they discovered from working together. You can read the report on the GreenPath site.

We wanted to share some of our key takeaways from this partnership and how it has helped influence our product, processes and future partnerships.

Find the Right Partner

The first step to any good partnership is finding the right partner. This seems like an obvious statement, but understanding the intricacies of what makes an organization the right one to work with is something that can make or break a partnership.

It’s not as easy as finding groups that share your mission; You need to find ones that you can actually help and who can help you. The formation of a clear intent can illuminate whether and how partnerships may be useful. We started by identifying the different pain points of each organization and then recognized that we may be able to solve these together.

GreenPath was already helping hundreds of thousands of lower income people each year but needed a method to ensure continued success for their customers after they were done helping. EarnUp, on the other hand, had the technology to provide meaningful long-term engagement but lacked a channel to reach the low-income customers that needed it the most.

Once both groups recognized their pain points, it became very clear just how mutually beneficial a partnership could be. It required taking a step back from their core missions to understand where the gaps were and how working together could help fill them. By recognizing how they could complement each other, the partnership was able to flourish quickly.

User Feedback is Key

Like many in the technology space, we subscribe to the notion of moving fast and using quick learnings to optimize and improve the process. The way to best achieve these learnings is through continuous user feedback at every point in the process.

Fortunately, GreenPath had a very similar approach to their product development and sales processes. They made it a priority to map out the entire Customer Journey from initial recognition of problems all the way through their post-GreenPath experience. GreenPath was truly committed to understanding and helping the customer at every point of their financial journey. They had specific checks built into all of their processes that were geared towards soliciting real customer feedback.

“Understand the customer journey from start to finish and present profiles to staff,” said Bradley O’Brien,

Manager of Financial Education at Greenpath. “Both are critical to helping with engagement, and in helping the staff understand that what they do really makes a difference in people’s lives.”

For EarnUp, this allowed us to quickly understand the GreenPath customer and how they were dealing with different financial problems. Armed with these learnings, we were able to adapt our technology and sales process to truly meet the unique needs of GreenPath customers. The emphasis both groups placed on user feedback allowed for the partnership to quickly adapt and improve over time.

Set Success Metrics Early

Before diving into a full partnership, both GreenPath and EarnUp agreed to test in a pilot phase to see if we could truly help the customer in the ways we wanted to, as well as work out any kinks in the process. One of the most important aspects of the pilot was to agree on how we define success.

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of not fully defining success metrics before diving into the pilot, especially with our move-fast approach,” said Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder and CEO of EarnUp. “But understanding what success means to both organizations is critical to long-term improvements. We were sure to discuss these upfront and continue to revisit them as the partnership evolved.”

To better understand what success means for the pilot, we leaned heavily on the idea of the Win-Win-Win model. The solution we were creating must be geared toward improving people’s lives – that’s the first win. But to be sustainable, the product or service must be a “win” for both partners as well – a win-win-win.

Once we defined our model for success, we were able to drill down deeper into the specific metrics that would give us an accurate look at how everyone was benefitting (Win-Win-Win), as well as the long term viability of the partnership. And based on enrollment results, feedback from our front-line team members, and interviews with customers, we determined that the pilot was scalable and could be successful.

These are only a few of the key learnings we took away from our partnership with GreenPath. For a full view of the partnership, we are happy to share the full report.