Company

Why we started Citadel

Citadel is a way for consumers to complete income and employment verifications easily and with their consent by leveraging their payroll accounts.


I got my MBA at Stanford, worked at Carta for two years, and don’t have a criminal record. These are facts you’d have to take me at my word for or pay over $50 to run an employment verification and background check, which could take you up to 5 days and involve up to a dozen people and phone calls.

It was while I was working at the San Francisco cap table and valuation software company Carta that I first started to understand the broken system behind verifications—and discovered my love for building B2B software. When I joined Carta, B2B was very new to me—I didn’t know much about B2B and learned a ton. I saw the ins and outs of how products are built for the B2B market and the challenges that come along with them.

In my role as Director of Product at Carta, I became familiar with managing payroll providers. Accessing payroll providers to calculate taxes and track terminations is an utter pain most of the time. I saw Carta struggling to build payroll providers without access. We had to go provider by provider and integrate each of them one by one. This posed not only business development challenges but was also a burden to the engineering organization.

As engineers, we don’t love working on integrations, and building them wasn’t cost-efficient for what Carta needed to manage payroll providers. And when I looked around for a solution, I came up empty-handed: there just wasn’t an out of the box solution without having to build a ton of integrations.

That’s where the idea came to me to build a solution—Citadel—to solve those issues. And so Citadel was born: we’re a platform that automates income and employment verifications by allowing users to connect their payroll accounts and easily share the information needed for verifications.

The big picture for Citadel is to give people control of and access to their information so they can share it with whomever they want, revoke access, and have transparency around the processes that require personal information, like income, employment, and background checks. We don’t want people’s data to be a black box anymore, or for accessing it to be a painstaking process for employers or service providers.

Identity and verifications: Ripe for disruption

When it comes to the verifications industry, data is everything, but that data is often inaccessible to those it belongs to—the consumers—and those who are paying for it—the verifiers. For the most part, consumers don’t know where companies obtain data about them, and they almost never have access to or control of that personal data. People want to control their data and know who is using it and why. What most folks don’t understand is that if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product-and from that perspective, the way verifications are conducted is very broken. What I mean is, verifications are done without much knowledge on the consumer end of what data is being accessed, how, and what it’s being used for.

And from the verifier’s standpoint, finding the necessary data—say, to hire a new employee or provide an auto loan-is a waterfall of multiple solutions, each of which adds friction to the process. There are automated solutions out there, but they’re expensive, and the remaining two options aren’t a guaranteed win, either. People can conduct the process manually, which takes time, risk dealing with fraudulent claims when they let people upload W-2s or pay stubs, or pay someone to get them the data, which is very expensive. The existing solutions are expensive and lack coverage or affordable but take too long.

Introducing Citadel

We created Citadel as a way for consumers to provide income and employment verifications easily and with their consent by leveraging their payroll accounts to extract the necessary data for verification and sending the data back to the company that requested the verification. And while we currently target verifying parties, we always keep the consumer in mind. After all, the consumer—the person whose data is being accessed and verified is the user who will interact with our platform.

We’re starting with payroll providers—to power income and employment verifications—because we believe that they’re the parts of the market that are the ripest for improvement. Income and employment verifications are extremely high volume—millions of people apply for or change jobs every year, and with interest rates lower than ever, more and more people are applying for loans. What’s more, in the time of a global pandemic, which has caused layoffs, low-interest rates, and spikes in hiring as businesses reopen, there’s an increased need for verifications across the board. And in 2020, the shifting landscape led one of the market’s leaders, The Work Number, to raise its prices (something it does often) at a time when verifications were harder to obtain and more necessary than ever. Last year really exposed this industry as ready for disruption and sparked us to start building Citadel as the solution.

Identity and verifications: Ripe for disruption

When it comes to the verifications industry, data is everything, but that data is often inaccessible to those it belongs to—the consumers—and those who are paying for it—the verifiers. For the most part, consumers don’t know where companies obtain data about them, and they almost never have access to or control of that personal data. People want to control their data and know who is using it and why. What most folks don’t understand is that if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product-and from that perspective, the way verifications are conducted is very broken. What I mean is, verifications are done without much knowledge on the consumer end of what data is being accessed, how, and what it’s being used for.

And from the verifier’s standpoint, finding the necessary data—say, to hire a new employee or provide an auto loan-is a waterfall of multiple solutions, each of which adds friction to the process. There are automated solutions out there, but they’re expensive, and the remaining two options aren’t a guaranteed win, either. People can conduct the process manually, which takes time, risk dealing with fraudulent claims when they let people upload W-2s or pay stubs, or pay someone to get them the data, which is very expensive. The existing solutions are expensive and lack coverage or affordable but take too long.

Introducing Citadel

We created Citadel as a way for consumers to provide income and employment verifications easily and with their consent by leveraging their payroll accounts to extract the necessary data for verification and sending the data back to the company that requested the verification. And while we currently target verifying parties, we always keep the consumer in mind. After all, the consumer—the person whose data is being accessed and verified is the user who will interact with our platform.

We’re starting with payroll providers—to power income and employment verifications—because we believe that they’re the parts of the market that are the ripest for improvement. Income and employment verifications are extremely high volume—millions of people apply for or change jobs every year, and with interest rates lower than ever, more and more people are applying for loans. What’s more, in the time of a global pandemic, which has caused layoffs, low-interest rates, and spikes in hiring as businesses reopen, there’s an increased need for verifications across the board. And in 2020, the shifting landscape led one of the market’s leaders, The Work Number, to raise its prices (something it does often) at a time when verifications were harder to obtain and more necessary than ever. Last year really exposed this industry as ready for disruption and sparked us to start building Citadel as the solution.

Similar posts