Beyond the Pitch: How NYU Startup Frich is Taking Over Campuses

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When Katrin Kaurov and Aleksandra Medina (Abu Dhabi ‘21), founders of the Gen Z social money app Frich, took home the trophy at the 2021 NYU-Yale Pitchoff, it marked the first time an NYU startup had come in 1st place since 2017.

The founders, who went on to become familiar faces on NYU’s campus thanks to their creative marketing campaigns and in-person giveaways, initially formulated the idea for Frich in early 2021 as they both struggled to successfully budget their money. The personal finance app draws inspiration from fitness apps by allowing users to create, share, and compare money goals with their friends.

"Our larger mission really is still making money social,” Kaurov said in a 2022 interview with the Entrepreneurial Institute. "Money plays a massive role in our lives, [and] there are so many emotions around money, but it’s weird that we’re not having transparent conversations. I really hope Frich can change that for young people.”

Frich wrapped up its first round of pre-seed funding from VCs and angel investors last year, increased its employee headcount, and recently unveiled a billboard in the heart of Times Square. We caught up with Frich to learn more about the startup’s progress and its latest initiative, Takeover, led by Head of Content Design Annabel Smit (Shanghai ‘22).

In the two years since you launched, how have you leveraged your NYU affiliation to propel Frich's growth and success?

Katrin Kaurov: “Frich's affiliation with NYU has been instrumental in its growth. The company emerged from the NYU Summer Launchpad accelerator, which provided access to invaluable resources, mentorship, and a supportive community that propelled Frich forward. This strong foundation laid the groundwork for Frich to expand its services and establish a strong presence in the event planning and marketing industry.

Additionally, winning the NYU-Yale Pitchoff was a game-changer. It not only validated the founders' entrepreneurial vision, but also garnered attention from investors and clients, opening doors to new opportunities and partnerships. These connections have been instrumental in driving Frich's success and shaping its trajectory. We're on 10 of the largest campuses across the US, including NYU, Columbia, UPenn, and University of Miami!"

What were some of the best parts of your experience participating in the NYU-Yale Pitchoff?

Katrin Kaurov: “After the NYU-Yale Pitchoff, we got our first VC money from an investor who was in attendance at the event who wrote us a significant check and is still now one of our leading VCs. We also properly launched Frich during the Pitchoff. Not only did we get immense interest from new users, but we also recruited a lot of early ambassadors and interns who ended up building the whole Takeover program. We found one of our earliest team members, Annabel Smit, who was actually one of our first interns. Over time, she took on more responsibilities and is now leading all of our content and the whole Takeover program.”

This summer, Frich has been working on launching this new Takeover initiative. Can you tell us more about it?

Annabel Smit: “Takeover is a dynamic and exciting event planning and marketing company that focuses on connecting brands and organizations with college students. With a strong emphasis on creativity and engagement, Takeover offers a wide range of services that help clients create memorable experiences and marketing campaigns that resonate with students. From event planning and brand activation to social media management and influencer campaigns, Takeover provides students with unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the marketing industry.”

How are you engaging with students?

Annabel Smit: “Takeover offers exciting opportunities for students to get involved with the company and gain valuable experience in event planning and marketing. One such opportunity is beta testing, where you can join Takeover as a student tester and provide feedback to the different companies the organization partners with. This allows students to learn more about the marketing industry and to help shape the strategies of major brands and organizations.

One of our main values at Frich is collaboration and fostering strong partnerships, and we are inviting other Gen Z-focused startups to take over campuses with us.”

How does your NYU background and involvement with the university ecosystem continue to shape your work at Frich and this new initiative?

Annabel Smit: “My NYU background and involvement with the university ecosystem have a profound impact on my work at Frich. Being an NYU graduate, I possess firsthand knowledge of the college experience and understand the evolving preferences of our target audience — college students. This understanding enables me to shape Frich's marketing strategies effectively and create campaigns that resonate with our target demographic.

My connections within the NYU network have proven invaluable in forging partnerships and collaborations. With our on-campus partnership initiative Takeover, I lead the summer influencer program, providing students with hands-on experience in digital marketing and content creation. Additionally, I organize and manage our nationwide team of ambassadors, ensuring the successful execution of campaigns and impactful on-campus pop-up events for our clients.

Leveraging my firsthand experience as an influencer with an Instagram channel of 120,000 followers, I bring valuable insights to our influencer marketing initiatives. This experience not only helps in securing influencer partnerships, but also plays a crucial role in mentoring our influencers, enabling them to learn from my personal journey.

My NYU background and involvement in the university ecosystem serve as a constant source of inspiration and influence, driving me to create meaningful opportunities for students at Frich."

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