Meet Sho Sugihara, Co-founder & CEO at Credit Builder App: Pave

At Pave we’re on a mission to improve access to credit for millions of people by building the world’s best credit builder. We do this by offering the proper path to good credit.

We have close to 500,000 registered users to date and we help our members improve their credit health in three ways. First, there’s bills monitoring. We help you track and make your bill payments on time to protect and build your score. Second, subject to an affordability assessment, customers can also access an interest free credit line to help pay their bills.

We share your credit utilisation and payment history on this credit line with credit bureaus to actively build your credit score. Finally, we give you personalised actions to take to help improve your score efficiently, with seven days a week expert support.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Growing up I’ve always wanted to work on things that have a clear social purpose. I’m particularly passionate about solving systemic inefficiencies that drive exclusion.

I spent the first half of my life in Japan where I started my career working for The Big Issue to help the homeless by delivering magazines to newspaper vendors. At 18 I went to Brazil to work for an NGO, helping underprivileged families keep their children in school through a state-sponsored microfinance and day care program. These experiences opened my eyes to the power of financial inclusion.

After university I worked at McKinsey for three years to save up cash to finally start my own business, before leaving to co-found Pave out of Entrepreneur First in 2017.

At the time my co-founder and I had a hypothesis about self-employed people being invisible to the financial system for their unique earning patterns and employment status. We interviewed hundreds of gig economy workers to learn about how difficult it was for them to access fair financial products, especially in credit. Eventually we founded Pave to drive financial inclusion.


How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

The economic environment over the past few years has been extremely volatile. At Pave we work hard to make sure our product stays relevant to our customers’ needs.

When we first started in 2017, we focused on helping gig economy workers better manage their finances and in turn improve financial well-being.

Then in 2020, Covid happened, and we did loads of customer interviews. We learned that for the first time, a lot of people had managed to free up their cash flow because of lockdown and furlough. They started having the mental and financial bandwidth to think about long term financial aspirations like a mortgage, and they needed a good credit record to get fair rates.

We noticed many customers were using a credit building product we had just launched, and so we began focusing more of our attention towards building this feature out.

Now in 2022, we’re seeing extreme income volatility and an unprecedented surge in energy prices and living costs. In times like these, we believe there are new opportunities to help not only consumers but also businesses.

We launched Fuse, a credit analytics service that helps businesses make better lending decisions using our state-of-the-art analytics capabilities. Combining Open Banking data, Credit File data and real outcomes data we have as a lender ourselves, we’re ready to help businesses make the best affordability decisions with powerful insights.

What can we hope to see from Pave in the future?

The current income shock and living cost crisis are having a tremendous impact on people’s finances. More and more people are resorting to credit products to make ends meet, and many more will require support to upkeep their credit health.

We will continue to support our B2C customers through continuous improvement of our app, but will also expand our B2B services with Fuse. The two products combined will help us solve the inefficiencies we see in the credit system faster, and at a critical time.