People love complaining about how college makes you read Hamlet but not how to take care of your own finances. While this complaint may be valid, there is one Startup that is actually doing something about it. Youthful Savings, the financial education curriculum app is getting to the future of our country and giving them the practical skills they need to be functioning parts of our economy (no offence Shakespere). With the platform they are teaching children about entrepreneurship, how to save for college and how to use money responsibly.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder Somya Munjal about the Startup and how a few words from President Obama inspired the company.
Tell us about the product or service.
We offer curriculum and web applications that empower youth towards financial education and entrepreneurship training. We offer two programs: My Own Business Challenge and How to Handle Your Business. The first one is targeted at helping youth create a business and whichever youth saves the most of their earnings gets a funded investment account from us. The latter program helps youth align their gifts with real world careers and helps them understand how best to pick and pay for college.
How is it different?
We holistically help youth become the best version of themselves. Our programs are meant to build on each other so that youth can effectively graduate Youthful Savings programming and take over the world all while being financially savvy. Our approach of providing investment accounts also enables us to keep youth in our family.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are targeting every youth that wants to understand how best to serve themselves and their community at large. We’ve really targeted on serving America’s youth and currently that’s about 75 million youth to serve! We’ve only just begun and hope to truly reach every youth in America.
What is the business model?
We sell our curriculum directly to schools so that we can minimize the financial burden to individual families. 10 cents of every dollar we earn is used to fund investment accounts to our winners.
What inspired the business?
It was actually a quote from Barack Obama – ““It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” This quote really resonated with me and as I was working my great corporate jobs I realized that on paper it looked like I was doing great but my soul wanted to do more. I was able to take all the skills I learned at my corporate finance jobs and create something really meaningful and transformative for America’s youth. Our goal is to eliminate the wealth gap. If you can teach life skills to youth at a young age, we believe every youth can live the American Dream.
Why is financial literacy important for youth?
Currently 20% of America’s youth live in poverty. They are growing up in families that do not have the skills to thrive in the American economy. We want to change that. Education is the great equalizer and if we can instill our transformation curriculum into America’s schools, we believe we can equip our youth with the financial and life skills needed to achieve the coveted American Dream.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We would like to double our numbers monthly. Currently we are serving 500+ youth and we want to be in more schools so that we can serve more youth. This fall, our goal is to be in 16 schools. We are currently in 8.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
I think people think that being a founder is a really glamorous job. In reality, it’s one of the hardest positions to be in. Everything is on the line and the buck stops with you. I wish I knew how much I needed to really give up in order to be a founder. You’ve got to eat, breath, sleep your company and your mission. If you don’t believe in it, why should anyone else?
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Someone at the NYC Department of Education. I think with one meeting; I could really convince him/her of the necessity of our programming.
Why did you launch in New York?
It was really a gut feeling. I was on a bus from Washington DC to NYC and I just looked at the skyline and knew that this was my city. If I could start with the youth here, then I could reach all youth. NYC is the true city of dreams.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
I’m a sucker for PhD at the Dream Hotel. It’s got the best view in the city and a pretty dope crowd!