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FamZoo for Family Financial Capability: The People's Choice at FinCon15

FamZoo CEO Bill Dwight (middle of check) holds first prize award for FinCon15 FinTech Startup Competition

“Which business best addresses a consumer personal finance or investing problem?”

That was the question posed to 900+ FinCon15 attendees via a mobile polling app. The outcome would determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the annual FinTech Startup Competition.

The people spoke: FamZoo. Woot!

I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to earn the respect of the FinCon community for our efforts to improve the financial capability of kids and teens — and, surreptitiously, parents too! Here’s an audience who lives and breathes the personal finance challenges that everyday people face. Their opinion is a tremendous validation of the FamZoo mission and efforts to date.

But what about the formal competition judges? James Ray of Chase Merchant Services, Rachel Schneider of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, Dan Roselli of Packard Place, and J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy. What did they think?

They mulled over the following formal judging criteria:

  • Has the summary/presentation clearly articulated the value proposition?
  • Has the summary/presentation demonstrated market opportunity?
  • Has the summary/presentation demonstrated a sustainable business model that will make money, or, in the case of a venture with a social purpose, make money and have the desired social impact?
  • Has the summary/presentation demonstrated competitive differentiation/intellectual capital?
  • How effective was the overall presentation?
  • Would you invest or back this opportunity?

The judging panel spoke too: FamZoo. And TickerTags. A tie for first.

A tremendous honor, and a nice check to boot!

But what about you? What do you think?

Here’s an informal Periscope broadcast where I walk through an extended version of the demo.

Not seeing the embedded video? Click here

The FinCon people have spoken. The judges have spoken. What say you?

P.S. Several folks have asked us how we plan to use the money. We always coach families to split income between important buckets like spending, saving, investing, and giving. That’s sound advice for families and companies alike, so we’re taking it ourselves. Here’s the game plan:

  • 50% to spending: We have some immediate needs to address in our iPhone app, so we’re going to spend $3,000 on a dedicated iPhone development resource right away.
  • 16.6% to saving: You never know when that next unanticipated expense is going to pounce! $1,000 is going in our “Emergency Fund” for the next thing to hit the fan.
  • 16.6% to investing: Smart investing often entails having “dry powder” available to jump on an opportunity. We’re parking $1,000 to deploy on the next serendipitous growth partnership that comes our way.
  • 16.6% to giving: FamZoo’s “secret ulterior motive” is to jumpstart the lifelong habit of philanthropy, and we like to walk the talk in this department too. We favor charitable missions that are tightly aligned with our own. That’s why we’re donating $1,000 to the fledgling Plutus Foundation to help bring financial capability to those who need it most.

Boost Your Kid's Money IQ with a Simple Spreadsheet

Sample Virtual Family Bank Spreadsheet

Let’s face it. Your kid’s piggy bank isn’t cutting it any more.

Sure, it was a fine first introduction to the most rudimentary concepts of money, but your kid is a smart cookie. Basic lessons learned.

So when are you going to take your kid’s money IQ to the next level? Your youngster is perfectly capable of grasping the following and more:

  • How bank accounts work.
  • How to track income and spending as numbers instead of coins.
  • How to avoid costly debt.
  • How to put money to work with compound interest.
  • How to allocate money to specific financial goals.

That sounds like a daunting parental task, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can do it all with a simple spreadsheet. That’s how I started out with my kids, and I’m not alone. The wildly popular financial blogger Mr. Money Mustache is doing the same. He’s using his “Bank of Mr. Money Mustache” spreadsheet to teach his young son about money too.


Why a Traditional Bank Savings Account Doesn't Teach Your Kid How to Save

Less than a penny in interest for a year of saving? Seriously?

What’s the best way to teach your youngster about saving and the power of compound interest?

Everybody knows you march your kid straight down to the local bank or credit union and open up a traditional savings account. Right? That’s certainly the conventional wisdom.

In fact, opening a savings account for your 6 year old is the “official” wisdom too. So says the panel of financial experts who make up the United States President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. It’s item 8 on their list of 20 things kids need to know to live financially smart lives.

My take? That’s complete bullcorn.

Let’s just think about this from a 6 year old’s perspective for a moment: