Our Philosophy and Mission
We believe a parent is a child’s best mentor.
As a parent, you are in the best position to teach your children many of life’s most important skills — like personal finance. Nobody knows your kids and your family values like you do. You want the best for your children, and they naturally look to you for structure and guidance.
We’re here to help you be the best mentor you can be.
Our modest goal?
Bring financial literacy to 40 million American kids through thoughtful parent-moderated payment technology.
CEO & Founder (“Chief Dad”)
“Over a few weekends in 2005, I built a very simple online allowance application for my kids. You can see the full story below. In the summer of 2006, I started FamZoo because it was the perfect way to combine and share three of my greatest personal passions: building software, raising children, and promoting the importance of learning from strong role models — like my parents.”
VP of Operations
“I met Bill back in 1980 (!) on our first day of orientation at Princeton University. Since that first encounter, our paths have crossed as lab partners, roommates, and co-workers. Over the years, we have revisited a musing that is familiar to many friends who share common business interests: what would it be like to start a company, featuring a product or service that we truly believe in, with the latitude to run the company according to our core beliefs? Well, we know now: it’s hard work like any other job, but there’s nothing like trying out the fruits of your labor on your family each and every day.”
“I’ve designed for the web for over ten years. I’ve worked for a variety of large and small businesses, non-profits, and web services. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on projects where I can grow both personally and professionally, and FamZoo is one of them. Bill found me when he wanted to make the fledgling user interface for FamZoo attractive, but useful and family-friendly. Also, as a self-confessed “Cat Lady”, how can I pass up an opportunity to design around tigers and other awesome creatures? If you like what you see, feel free to check my LinkedIn profile!”
“I’m the editorial cartoonist for The Detroit News. I also draw a weekly column called “Payne & Ink”, a weekly auto cartoon for Autos Insider, and six cartoons a week on national issues for United Feature Syndicate in New York. My cartoons have been reprinted in The New York Times, USA Today, and National Review. I have published three books, including two children’s books for Random House. I’m proud to note that I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Of course, I’m also proud to note that I was Bill’s roommate in college...ok, maybe not. To see more of my work, please visit HenryPayne.com.”
Like many companies, FamZoo was born out of a personal need. By mid 2002, my oldest children had reached an age where I thought having an allowance would be a good way for them to learn to manage money, gain some responsibility, and generally stop badgering me for miscellaneous impulsive purchases on their behalf. I started out by tracking their allowance earnings and associated spending in a spreadsheet.
After a while, I grew tired of fielding their frequent requests to know how much they had left to spend. With the allowance spreadsheet squirreled away on my laptop computer, I had to handle every inquiry. I didn’t like being the bottleneck. A software developer by trade, I figured it was time to automate (and delegate). So, one weekend in February 2005, I built a very modest family Web site — the online Bank of Dwight. Our kids could sign in to see their account balances for themselves and review past saving and spending history. I could sign in separately to make additions and subtractions.
At first I didn’t think of the system as anything more than a time saving trick for myself and something of a novelty for my kids. (“Hey Matt, look what my Dad did — I can see my allowance on the Internet. Cool, huh?”). But over time, I realized the system was helping my kids learn some basic lessons of money management and personal responsibility with fairly minimal effort on my part. (“Dad, can you buy me an iPod?” “Uh, no, but if you sign in and check your balance, you can figure out how many months you’ll need to save your allowance to buy one for yourself.”)
It also became a convenient and relatively unemotional way to hold the kids accountable when they did something naughty or irresponsible, like burping loudly at the dinner table, repeatedly evading their chores, or racking up overage charges on their cell phones by downloading custom ring tones and sending a countless text messages. It turned out to be a very handy tool for teaching consequences (beyond the obligatory eyeball-roll-inducing parental lectures, of course).
Over the next year and a half, I became convinced that other families could benefit from such an online tool as well if I could make it simple and flexible enough. I also realized that by extending the system, I could help teach (through active and regular practice) a broader array of responsible habits like saving wisely, serving your community, and helping others. By the summer of 2006, I resolved to start a company around the concept. Day One of FamZoo started at 4:30AM on Saturday, August 5th, 2006.
Thank you for using FamZoo. I hope your family finds FamZoo to be the same fun, educational, and meaningful experience it’s been for my family.
FOUNDER & CHIEF DAD