Steven Muszynski (BSBA ’11), founder of Splash Financial

Childhood hobbies can hint at the inner passions that define a future career path. Exposure to challenges can offer clarity as to how to direct that energy toward actionable plans that help others.

Steven Muszynski (BSBA '11), a member of Fisher's 13th Honors Cohort class, knew at a young age that he wanted to some day run his own business. He, like many of his classmates, arrived at Ohio State with the help of student loans. Muszynski, however, quickly learned how burdensome student loan debt can be.

After graduating from Fisher with a degree in finance and economics, Muszynski joined General Electric’s financial management program. The company allowed him to gain real-world strategies and skills that positioned him well for what might come next.

Eighteen months into the two-year program, Muszynski felt a desire to make a bigger impact with his career. At age 24, he launched his own venture — Splash Financial, a digital automated lending platform aimed at helping people save more for their child's education.

"We connect consumers to community banks and credit unions with the goal of helping them shop and compare financial products," Muszynski explained.

Since its founding in 2013, the Cleveland-based company has raised over $60 million and grown to a team of 150.

Although Muszynski considered moving the company to San Francisco, the pandemic has had a positive effect in that it expanded his access to funds and talent throughout the Midwest.

"I am very passionate about what I think we can be and how I think we can help people," he said. "That resonates with investors and talent everywhere."

Like all good leaders, Muszynski has had to tweak his leadership style many times as his company has grown.

"As a sole founder with no significant experience in software development or lending, the learning curve has been steep," he said. "The first couple years were all about research, learning from others and making mistakes. I learned that I could not always be deep into the weeds on every project for the company to succeed at scale. It is worth the weight of gold to have really sharp people in key positions."

Recognizing that allowing employees to be creative is the key to recruitment and retention of great talent, especially in the midst of a pandemic, Splash Financial teams run their own departments. A major focus at the company is also its culture and benefits.

"The remote environment has made relationships feel transactional. I want people to feel inspired by their career prospects at Splash," he said.

Muszynski credited Fisher and the Cohort program for equipping him with mentors, friends and the tools needed to start and manage his own company.

"Cohort provided a really strong framework for thought and a way to interact with incredibly smart people," he said. "Those learnings guide me to this day. I always valued that the program helped ground us for real-world situations and pushed us to pay it forward."