SelfScore hires Apple wunderkind Tai Tran to shape startup's brand

Tran signed up for the "scrappy startup" fresh off his success at the technology giant.

MENLO PARK, CA: Tai Tran has joined SelfScore, a venture-capital-backed fintech startup that provides financial services, such as scholarships and credit, to international students in the U.S.

SelfScore hired Tran as its first head of content and brand marketing, a role in which he will build out content and brand strategy and establish the company’s voice across all channels, Tran said. He officially started in the position last week.

Based in Menlo Park, California, Tran is reporting to Pat Nicholson, VP of marketing.

Tran was most recently a digital marketing program manager at Apple, a position he took while finishing up at the University of California at Berkeley.

SelfScore has a marketing team of fewer than 10 staffers, though it is hiring more. The company raised $7.1 million in venture funding last August, led by Pelion Venture Partners, which was joined by Accel Partners and Aspect Ventures. VSC Consulting is supporting the company’s communications.

Discussions about Tran’s role at SelfScore began in December.

"In addition to providing access to fair credit, we also strive to help our customers learn good credit habits and build their credit score in the U.S.," Nicholson said, via email. "We are thrilled to have Tai join us from Apple to integrate financial education into our products and marketing. This is a critical part of our mission to help deserving, but underserved, people become financially independent."

Tran compared the body of content he wants to produce at SelfScore to a "curriculum."

"Content has to be captivating, and not just long-form all the time," Tran said. "My goal is to elevate the [financial literacy program] and use it across more modules and build content around a ‘course,’ not just a blog, that looks at how it all ties in together."

For example, Tran said lifestyle content could feature interesting and shareable facts while being educational, such as an article entitled "10 things you can use your credit card for on a road trip."

"We’re thinking about the different touchpoints in individuals’ lives when credit comes into play," he added. "SelfScore is something I can stand behind as the company helps get more millennials access to credit and helps them grow as we grow with them."

Tran said the company is planning to grow alongside its customer base to serve the different stages of the consumer lifecycle, while providing content tailored to their needs. For example, SelfScore cofounder and CEO Kalpesh Kapadia penned an op-ed in TechCrunch in the middle of the 2016 presidential election about how international students positively affect the U.S. educational system. SelfScore also introduced a rewards card last month.

At Apple, Tran launched the company’s first branded social account, @AppleMusicHelp, later renamed @AppleSupport, and managed the digital marketing and content strategy for customer care. The #TwitterAwards recognized the handle as best-in-class for customer service. He also taught a pair of marketing and networking classes at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley for undergraduates.

Prior to that, Tran also led digital marketing and communications for Samsung Research America.

Updated on April 4: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Tran interned at Samsung and Flextronics.

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