This 25-year-old IT specialist is helping to destroy the familiar world of finance.

Original author: Portia Crowe
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Robert Krzyzhanowski belongs to the category of people who can choose what to do in life.

Robert Krzyzhanowski, Director of Information Technology at Avant

At the age of 11, he received the 97th percentile in the SAT math (subject testing for high school graduates required to enter US colleges and universities). At age 16, Krzyzhanowski, fluent in three languages, completed a special college-level course for gifted high school students at North Central College, Naperville, Illinois.

At 23, he became Ph.D. ( note. translator: approximately, analogue of the Russian “candidate of sciences”) in mathematics at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and, as he says, sought to find a job through which he could have a real impact on life.

As a result, Krzyzhanovsky, who is now 25, joined the little-known financial and technological startup “Avant”.

This Chicago-based online loan platform is one of several startups that are hoping to turn the consumer loan market forward, providing an opportunity to get a loan faster than can be done through banks. Avant may provide some borrowers with a loan right on the day of application.

Founded in 2012, Avant is the fastest growing online market lender with more than $ 1.6 billion in three years. The company, valued at more than $ 2 billion, is also part of the “unicorn club” (a group of startups worth more than $ 1 billion).

A few years ago, it may have seemed a risky place to start a career. Krzhizhanovsky’s story about his experience at Avant destroys all ideas about working in a technology startup, starting with the driving motives of his employees.

The “driving force” of a startup

“Even in graduate school, where people have the most diverse life experience and education and where they are generally quite motivated, I haven’t encountered that“ drive ”, with such a driving force that affects you in the first few years of really fast-growing enterprises, ”he says.

Although Krzyzhanowski was educated in mathematics and statistics, he leads programmers at Avant.

At the office of the Avant company, Chicago

Krzhizhanovsky likes to perform various duties in the company, which is a pleasant bonus for him to stay in a small organization. Here he is also able to see the direct impact of his work.

“When we have a flow of customers, the work that I and the people I work with is constant decision-making, and every second it actually affects our customers,” says Krzyzhanowski.
“Without such a connection with the real world, it’s hard to explain to myself any work that is being done, and I believe that my decision to move from science to industry was right.”

What is information technology?

Krzhizhanovsky’s team of analysts essentially transforms some of the company's perceptions of potential customers into specific data that can be used to analyze the value of these customers as borrowers.

“What we do is ultimately boil down to making decisions - but to making better and faster,” continues Krzhizhanovsky.

Avant should be able to determine whether a customer is honest. (There are two types of fraud, Krzhizhanovsky says: non-material forgery (“soft” fraud), such as, for example, using the current credit rating to obtain a single loan with the knowledge that, for example, it’s time to pay some big debt, and material forgery (“ hard "cheating), such as, for example, identity theft.)


His team processes using “offline” machine learning tools and methods, analyzing hundreds or even thousands of variables to assess fraud risks. Most lenders can analyze only a few dozen variables.

“The effectiveness of our actions is that we can take these complex algorithms and transform them into a program that can make a decision immediately,” Krzhizhanovsky says.

The team is able to complete the task by developing its own syntax and programming grammar.
“We use truly best-in-class analytics and technology to deliver unique customer service,” Avant CEO Al Goldstein told us.

According to him, the decision on more than 50% of Avant customers is taken in real time, and financing for all of them is carried out on the next business day.

“The result is really high quality customer service and customer satisfaction,” he said.

At the Avant office in Chicago

This week, Avant launched its new product - financing the acquisition of a car; in the plans - credit card issue.

Mr. Goldstein also intends to bring Avant to the international market, in particular to the UK and Canada.
Krzhizhanovsky’s analytics team has grown from two to 30, and his position continues to grow with her.
“When I came to work here, I did not know how long I would stay here: maybe for a long time, or maybe just a few months,” Krzhizhanovsky says.

Two years later, it seems that he may be here for many years.

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