Zach Bruhnke, CEO and co-founder of the neobank HMBradley, is looking for someone to retroactively name the company after, and he wants to give away $25,000 while doing it.
“I’ve never been so excited to give away a bunch of money,” Bruhnke said.
The company on Wednesday tweeted out a call for anyone with the initials “H.M. Bradley” to apply to become the neobank’s honorary founder. Bruhnke said the company could potentially select up to 10 people to share the honorary founder title and split the $25,000 prize.
Our focus is on our customers, not some old dead guy founder. Still, it would be nice to have someone to retroactively name our company after. So if your name is H. M. Bradley, go to https://t.co/sHwIGSqZH7 and enter to be named our honorary founder. pic.twitter.com/HY7HMX7BD8— HMBradley (@hmbradley) May 11, 2022
The contest, Bruhnke said, is a tongue-in-cheek nod to other financial institutions like JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs' Marcus, which derive their names from their founders.
“We're not named after some old white guy or some old stodgy founder. Our whole modus operandi has been to treat anyone well. Anyone could totally be our founder because we don't care who you are so much as what your habits are,” Bruhnke said.
The campaign aligns with the bank’s overall mission of rewarding savers, Bruhnke said. HMBradley incentivizes users to save by offering a 3% annual percentage yield (APY) for account holders who save at least 20% of their direct deposit in addition to opening an HMBradley credit card.
Once the Santa Monica, California-based startup selects its honorary founder or founders, it plans to launch an ad campaign around the winners.
“It's a joke, sort of, but we're also going to keep carrying that joke along by actually choosing to work with one or a handful of people and use them in commercials and advertising,” Bruhnke said. “It's almost like our version of the most interesting man in the world. Except we hope it's not some old white guy, we hope it’s a lot more varied than that.”
The company is having fun with the campaign, Bruhnke said — even encouraging non-H.M. Bradleys to apply.
“People apply for jobs they’re not qualified for all the time, so feel free to do that here too,” Bruhnke said. “It gives us a way to engage with some of the audience and let people actually become a part of something.”
As for the actual origin of the company’s name, Bruhnke said it comes from his fondness for the multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway.
“I'm just a giant Berkshire Hathaway nut and we just took the ‘B’ and the ‘H’ from Berkshire Hathaway and reversed those. So originally, I just picked a name that sounded like an old defunct textiles company,” Bruhnke said.
The campaign comes amid a period of significant growth for the company, Bruhnke said.
The platform had to shift to invite-only mode in July when its partner bank, Hatch Bank, said it couldn’t keep up with startup’s deposit growth.
But the startup is in the final stages of securing a second partner bank — a deal that will help it grow into “billions of dollars” in deposits, Bruhnke said.
“We've more than tripled the customer base while on waitlist,” Bruhnke said. “We're sitting pretty deep, looking at like a pretty large audience and maybe as much as another $500 million to a billion dollars in deposits waiting in the wings right now. So we're really excited about opening it back up.”
Meanwhile, HMBradley has made changes to its flagship product, a Tier 1 savings account that originally rewarded customers who saved 20% of their direct deposit with a 3% APY.
Tier 1 savers, as of February, need to have an HMBradley credit card to continue receiving the 3% APY.
“It’s the right thing for the business. We’re not running a charity. We have to run a company,” Bruhnke said. “We weren't really trying to cut costs so much as making sure that we're rewarding our customers who are rewarding us the most. What we’re saying is, if you go all in with us, we're gonna go all in on you.”
Bruhnke said the company has more than quadrupled its credit card user base since announcing the new Tier 1 criteria in December.
“Close to half of our customers actually have two products with us, the credit card and the bank account. So we're in a pretty good spot,” Bruhnke said.
The neobank is also seeing success through its One Click Credit, a feature which allows customers to claim approved credit offers.
About 65% of HMBradley’s credit offers have been accepted, Bruhnke said.