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EPISODE
60
Published on
July 27, 2020

060 | Give Your Kids the Ultimate Financial GREENLIGHT with Tim Sheehan

Summary

Tim Sheehan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Greenlight – a debit card for kids and a mobile app that empowers parents with convenient controls to safely manage family finances and create teachable moments around earning, spending, saving and giving. Prior to Greenlight, Tim was the Lead Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center, which is Georgia Tech's startup incubator. Tim sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss how Greenlight is helping parents teach kids how to be responsible about personal finance from an early age.

Highlights

  • How Tim got his start in the fintech and startup space
  • Tim's early business experiences with infamous Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen
  • What inspired Tim's decision to branch out on his own to start Greenlight and identifying a problem in your market
  • How Tim's personal experience with teaching finance to his kids helped shape the features of Greenlight
  • Finding real-life teachable finance moments to show the importance of budgeting and savings
  • How a declining use of cash and increase in digital currency impacted how parents were teaching kids about personal finance
  • How Greenlight can be used for children of any age, from chore tracking for younger kids to independent financial management for teenagers
  • The importance of perseverance when it comes to entrepreneurship and running a successful business

Mentioned Resources

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Tweetable Quotes

"I think the best products are ones that you think - jeez, of course! Why didn't we have that?!" - Tim Sheehan

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"I'm probably most happy that the kids really are learning. The Greenlight kids have saved over $25 million. They are giving to charities with their money. They're learning to make tradeoff decisions." - Tim Sheehan

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"There's always a million reasons why 'it won't work' or...to believe that you won't ever achieve what you're trying to achieve. But if you believe it and you stick with it and you never give up, you will get there." - Tim Sheehan

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Tim Sheehan

CEO & Founder, Greenlight

Tim Sheehan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Greenlight – a debit card for kids and a mobile app that empowers parents with convenient controls to safely manage family finances and create teachable moments around earning, spending, saving and giving.

Episode Transcript

Chris Snyder [00:00:05] Hello, everyone. Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, President at Juhll Agency, and founder of Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. A quick message from our sponsor. Today's show is sponsored by Banks.Com, the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products and services. Banks dot com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions, bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands. To learn more, you can go to banks dot com forward slash partners, or you can send an email to info at banks dot com. Okay. Without further ado, our guest today is Tim Sheehan. He's the CEO and co-founder of Greenlight, a debit card for kids and a mobile app that empowers parents with convenient controls to safely manage family finances. They also create teachable moments around earning, spending, saving, and giving. Prior to Greenlight, Tim was the lead entrepreneur in residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center, which is Georgia Tech's startup incubator. Tim's extensive fintech background includes his role as the director of Yahoo! Finance, SVP Products Marketing and Strategy for Biller Solution Fiserv, Co-Founder & CEO of Reachable, and Senior Product Manager at E*Trade. Welcome, Tim. 


Tim Sheehan [00:01:56] Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me. 


Tim Sheehan [00:01:59] Absolutely. It's great to have you here. And I'll just say for everyone, our first banking or fintech-related guests. So I appreciate you being on the show. So before we kick this thing off, Tim. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up, your upbringing, and how you feel like you got to where you are today.


Tim Sheehan [00:02:08] Sure. Sure. Yeah. I grew up in Northern Virginia, in the D.C. area, and gosh, I lived there for quite a long time through college. Even my first job was in the D.C. area. And then my big break was to go work for a Paul Allen startup in Seattle. And that was called Starwave. And we worked on ESPN.com and NFL.com, NBA.com. These were kind of the early days of the Internet. Wow. And then Disney acquired Starwave. And from there moved to the Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Area in California, and got to work helping to launch E-Trade and Yahoo! Finance. And you know, did some other things out there and then move to Atlanta, did a stint at Pfizer and then the Georgia Tech Advanced Technology Development Center, and then started Greenlight right out of there, out of ATDC - used ATDC as kind of our incubator to get Greenlight started.


Chris Snyder [00:03:33] Yeah, that's interesting. So. So you go from East Coast - did you go directly from East Coast to West Coast? Because that's a bit of a culture change, right?


Tim Sheehan [00:03:42] Yeah, yeah. That was a big change. But did I love it? I, I love Seattle. But it was a little too great for me. I did miss the sun, but it was other than that, it was really a wonderful place to live and work. But I really loved the Bay Area. That was a really wonderful place. You can't beat the weather. And the people are, you know, highly educated and entrepreneurial. And there was a ton of fun. And then you come back now to Atlanta, which is a great place to raise a family and actually a great place to start a company now, too, especially fintech tech company.


Chris Snyder [00:04:34] Yeah, no, there's a few states popping up that are extremely favorable to founders and I think with the whole remote. Work thing now, I think the, you know, I think the gloves are off a little bit about this distribution of labor and workforce. Well, I haven't heard the name Paul Allen in a very long time, so thanks for mentioning that. So it seems like he's a great guy, by the way.


Tim Sheehan [00:05:02] He's passed away now, of course. But he was so incredibly generous to us. He because we were just a small company, he would he had invited all of us over to his house every Monday night to like use the sports complex that he had. So we got to play basketball or swim in his pool or play tennis or he was just a really generous person because he didn't have to do that. You know, we're a bunch of kids that. Yeah, I mean, who wants to invite a bunch of 20 something kids over to, like, make noise and, you know, be rowdy. But he was just a really generous person. And another thing he did was he flew assault down from Seattle to Portland to watch the Portland Trailblazers play. And, you know, it was kind of funny because it was a really short flight. It's like ten minutes is up. Yeah. But it was pretty amazing. And, yeah, I just remember what a smart and generous person he was.


Chris Snyder [00:06:12] Yeah. And you've got a background in, I guess, information management, you know, I.T. where were you, a coder before you went through all these roles that the senior management and executive. So is that how you made it into that world? Was were you actually pumping out code and building systems and doing extra?


Tim Sheehan [00:06:38] Yeah, initially, like, I think my dad got me a Commodore 64 when I was really young. To date me, people will be like, what? What is a Commodore 64? I know what that is. That's going way back. But I am I taught myself to program in basic SQL. on that computer and just something about it. I just really took to it. I, you know, lived and breathed it. And so that kind of really affected the course of my life and definitely my career. So I started off as a programmer and then kind of did that for a few years, but realized that, you know, actually, I'm not an exceptional or amazing programmer. Like, I was just pretty good. Or maybe you could even say average, maybe even a little less than average. But I was really passionate and interested in and I think good at the product side, especially tech products. And so I kind of moved from engineering to product management and at the same time I had gotten my masters degree. And so essentially, I took this kind of tech background and became essentially a tech product manager instead of an engineer. And then from tech product management moved up into general management and. But it's always been really helpful to me to have that tech background combined with the product experience, combined with the business understanding them how to how to run and grow a business. And so, yeah, I really appreciate kind of all the different phases that I had in my career because they all kind of helped me get to the point I'm at now.


Chris Snyder [00:08:40] Yeah, no, that's super interesting. And I think I see in a lot of of of our club, in a lot of our clients and also you see the job postings for product managers. They actually some of them require engineering background. So, I mean, because you have to work deep with the engineering team to build the product. Yeah. And if you don't understand some of the fundamentals of information, architecture and software architecture and latest trends, I think you'd have a problem building really good products.


Tim Sheehan [00:09:11] You're right. You're right. I remember. I don't know if they still do it, but I remember Google wouldn't interview you for a product manager role unless you had a science degree. Yeah. So, yeah, I think I think they have the right idea, which is, you know, especially for a tech product, you know, to be a product manager for a tech product. I think having the tech background is kind of a requirement. It just helps you do the job so much better.


Chris Snyder [00:09:41] Yeah. You know, I find it interesting, you mentioned earlier in this conversation that I think you'd worked for ESPN or did work for ESPN, which is, you know, if you think about that stint of work relative to a whole career in financial services and I know you're a big fan of user experience, how did maybe that ESPN or Disney experience help you become someone that actually might be one of the best at creating products for financial services or thin taxes? You learn a lot with that consumer-centric experience.


Tim Sheehan [00:10:19] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you're right to pick up on that. The idea when I learned there for consumer tech products was an amazing experience, that star wave, because it was also the really early days of the Internet. And we just had some amazing engineers. They're amazing people, really, and all on all the different roles. And so there was a ton to learn, you know, just by being around all of those people and picking up the different things that they were talking about or, you know, the discussions we would have internally. And so, yeah, I learned a lot there. I learned a lot at Yahoo! Probably the most popular, most Yahoo! In the early days of Yahoo! They're just absolutely brilliant people.


Chris Snyder [00:11:09] Yahoo! Was the Internet. I mean, let's be clear. If you were on the front page of Yahoo! The innovation that Yahoo! You know, had at that time. Same with AOL, right? Those guys were or do you remember what was the free Internet? NetZero?


Tim Sheehan [00:11:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely, man. It was you know, that's where, you know, just these amazing people were, you know, whether they were business people or product people or marketing people or engineers. They were exceptional. And so just getting to work with them, you know, you just couldn't help but become smarter by getting to work with them. And so, yeah, I learned a lot about consumer products at this consumer tech products, especially at Star Wave and at Yahoo! And then I kind of took that with me, you know, to help me create the companies that I started. And so I had this, you know, maybe I started with like this tech knowledge and tech interest and and and then kind of got interested in finance. And then I added in the consumer product experience. And that's when I really saw I guess I was, you know, to create Greenlight. I'm really drawing upon all of those, like tech, consumer, and financial services.


Chris Snyder [00:12:41] Yeah, no, it's super interesting. And it along a long path and a very extensive path with a lot of experience across different products.


Tim Sheehan [00:12:51] Are you calling me old Chris?


Chris Snyder [00:12:53] No, no, no.


Tim Sheehan [00:12:55] I am pretty old. Just To get that out there.


Chris Snyder [00:13:00] OK, I'm forty-four. So I spent a lot of time in the 70s and 80s and we're probably somewhat similarly aged. So I say, you know, my idea it was cool when my parents bought a very like a 20-foot telephone cord and I could actually, like, grab that and go around the staircase and could talk to your friends or you could talk to your girlfriend. And then the gig was up when your mom picked up the phone in the other room was like, get off the phone with them. That was that's that was my privacy. I had none.


Tim Sheehan [00:13:38] Remember how you would have to get good at, like, talking just at the right volume level where the other person on the other end could hear you, but none of your family members could hear what you.


Chris Snyder [00:13:48] Yeah. No one that I remember beepers. I remember when that broke. I remember the big car phones and they were two thousand dollars a month and don't want had one. Also owned a Cadillac. Right. That's hilarious. So we'll be all together. I love that. So. So you've done a lot of really neat stuff. How did you know or what was your break or how did you realize? Like, wait a second. I'm ready to stop working for Yahoo! Stop working for, you know, Yodlee. Stop doing all this stuff for everybody else. I know. Now I'm ready to do this stuff myself. And I have a big idea. When did you cross that threshold?


Tim Sheehan [00:14:34] Yeah, I guess it was. Yeah, I was after I had done. Star Wave and E-Trade and Yahoo! And Yodlee was really after that, that I kind of felt like I had enough experience and, you know, there's a lot of things you learn by trying to build something and you start to learn things like, you know, the importance of identifying a problem in a market. And you know that that's often, you know, way more important to be confident about and be able to prove that it actually exists in the market and that it's a big market and that people, you know, and there's enough pain attached to that problem that people are willing to pay to fix it and that, you know, all of these things that you just learn because, you know, earlier in my career, you know, I might have an idea and you kind of focus on the idea. And that becomes the focus and the thing that you spend all your time on as you get to be, I think, a better business manager and an entrepreneur. You start to realize that actually understanding the market and understanding whether there's a problem in that market. And can you kind of objectively prove whether that problem really exists or not, whether you do anything about it or not? Can you actually objectively prove that the problem exists, that that's more important than maybe your idea for how to solve it? And so I, you know, you kind of bring that kind of came all together. And I think, you know, I think that's why Greenlight is doing so well. It's one of the reasons is, you know, drawing on all of that, you know, all those learnings, all those mistakes, you know, all those things that I learned from others, I'm drawing on all of that, too, to help make Greenlight successful.


Chris Snyder [00:16:47] Yeah, that's interesting. And was there a. So that's on the business side, like, wait a second, I'm ready to be the captain, my own ship. I have some ideas about how this should work. And you have the the the relative experience. Now, what about the idea? Because I know you have, you know what, three or four kids in there. So did it happen one day we like Billy, do your chores. And he was like, I need to be paid for that before you want to go to the hallway with a super long telephone cord, you're like, OK, we need to pay Billy. Like, how did how did you understand or think about taking me through that process of, OK. Big problem. Big market did. Was there some kind of a-ha moment?


Tim Sheehan [00:17:31] Yeah. The first problem that we identified was that there were the parents weren't carrying cash as frequently as they used to. And cash is how they shared know gave money to their kids. And so there was this macro trend of declining use of cash. And so we kind of detected that and solve this problem that I was experiencing in that my co-founders were experiencing as well, which is. Huh. Not really carrying cash in my wallet. And so all these circumstances where I would normally give cash to the kids, you know, my wife and I didn't we weren't carrying the cash. We were making all of our purchases with debit cards and credit cards. And so that was the first problem we identified and saw it becoming bigger and bigger and talked to all kinds of different parents to say, hey, are you having this problem, too?


Chris Snyder [00:18:33] So consumer preferences plus tech at the same time started rolling. Yeah. What year was this?


Tim Sheehan [00:18:41] Is this one. Let's see. 2014. Oh, wow. So they a while ago. Yeah. Yeah. When we first started to see the problem. Yeah. Oh, interesting. And then. And then in 2015, you know, doing research to see like, you know, people you don't know, like something you learn as an entrepreneur is when you're doing customer discovery. You don't want to, you know, lead the witness or like Byatt's the person you're interviewing. And so you have to ask these open-ended questions like, you know, for us. We would say, you know, do you ever you know, do you have kids. And do you ever have a need to give them money in any circumstances? And if they said yes, then we would say, do you ever have any problems with that? And then we would just see what they say. And then if they unprompted, brought up. Yeah. You know, I've noticed I'm not carrying cash, you know. Neither is my spouse. And so, you know, we're looking at this or trying this other thing. And they would usually start to tell you how they're trying to solve it. And usually it was kind of a suboptimal solution. It wasn't something they were very happy with. And so that's when we heard that enough times we knew we were onto something because there was this common problem across all of the parents we were talking to or, you know, at least nine out of ten of them. And then from there, over time, by working with our customers and, you know, listening to them and talking to them, that led us to kind of the mission of the company, which is to help parents raise potentially smart kids. So we started the company with this very focused approach of solving this problem in the market, which is, hey, allow a parent to digitally, instantly transfer money to their kids and have some oversight of that. That evolved into a much bigger mission, which is to try to help them, you know, teach their kids to be smart about money so that when they're when their kids are out on their own and having to manage their own finances, hopefully they can do a really good job at it.


Chris Snyder [00:21:02] Yeah, interesting. The interesting part about that, too, is it's not only the parents now that have cell phones in tech, it's the kids. It's almost like you could have the kids Barazi Akl with and teach the parents. Yeah, it's kind of an interesting idea. I mean, if you're so how are you guys addressing this education component? Because you if that's your mission, obviously that requires either a large investment on your part for education and resources. You get harder with nonprofits or how do you get that done?


Tim Sheehan [00:21:36] Yeah, it basically what's interesting about it is we built the product in a way where, you know, parents can teach, you know, the young kids hate money, doesn't grow on trees. You have to earn it. You have to work for it. And so there's that whole kind of like chores, functionality that built-in there with allowances and then a savings account and a giving account. And then, of course, the debit card with some parental controls wrapped around it. And then we're about to add the investment account here pretty soon. And so what we're trying to do is create this kind of holistic product that, you know, covers personal finance broadly and it helps the kids learn about all the different things you'd want to teach your kids. You want them to learn that, you know, money doesn't grow on trees. You have to earn it. You want him to learn to make tradeoff decisions and not kind of always buy the thing just in from them. But to save their money toward some kind of savings goal or some kind of thing that they really are trying to achieve. You want to help them be able to learn how to invest because that's how they'll build wealth over the long term. And so, you know, you want to understand credit because having excellent credit can save them thousands of dollars on a mortgage or an auto loan. So all of these things that we all want our kids to know, we basically tried to build a product that helps the kids learn those things. But the way that they learn it is by doing. They learn by doing. Yeah, I actually like using the product and experiencing it. And what's interesting is in using the product, it prompts questions so the kids will ask you questions like, hey, what's the difference between debit and credit? And then that will lead to a whole long conversation. Or, you know, why do I need to. Why do I need to save? Like what? What for? Oh, no. Interesting. Like. Oh. Unexpected things happen like a pandemic hits the world. And, you know, people lose their jobs. And having some savings set aside can really be helpful in these unexpected situations. Now, granted, a pandemic is quite extreme, but like even your car breaks down, needs repairs. And that's not part of your normal monthly expenses. So that's kind of like a special, unexpected expense that you have to try to absorb. And that's where having some savings set aside really helps you. And so, anyways, I love that basically by using Greenlight, the kids are learning things, by experiencing them. And then it's also prompting them to ask questions and engage in conversations with their parents, which, you know, for teenagers is amazing because they usually don't want to talk to us. You know, they just want to do it. The parents. They just want to hang out with their friends but don't. So it's kind of nice that they're there actually, you know, asking some questions and they're interested. Well, it super real money. You know, it's real money. It's their money. It's their account. So it's it's much more tangible, much more compelling to them because it's not just like a theoretical conceptual thing.


Chris Snyder [00:25:07] Yeah. It's like a systemic thing. And I don't know if it's in our society and all societies, but I do not remember. And everybody grows up different. I do not remember sitting down and having finance discussions with anyone in the House ever. Never, ever. Never, ever. I do not remember going to high school or can leave in college. Guy pressing a personal finance course. That's right, sir. This sounds that I know here.


Tim Sheehan [00:25:38] You just did. You just nailed it. That that that is the biggest reason I believe Greenlight is taking off, is it's really not addressed in school or, you know, even parents are so time-strapped. I mean, most parents, both of them are working, you know, plus then they to take care of the kids and like, make sure they're fed or that they can get to their various activities.


Chris Snyder [00:26:03] Some of these parents may have bad money habits themselves. They're not equipped or qualified to have this discussion.


Tim Sheehan [00:26:10] Or they might just not even have the time. Right, exactly. Actually, like, you know, engage in all of this. And and so Greenlight essentially, like, just makes that easier. Right.


Chris Snyder [00:26:21] This is so obvious. It's just it's so it's like it's been right in front of all of us for years. Fifty years. Not. Not since. Not since 2014.


Tim Sheehan [00:26:32] I love that. Yeah. Because I do I think the best products are ones that you think - jeez, of course! Why didn't we have that? You know. And so yeah I think I'm probably most happy that the kids really are learning like the Greenlight kids have saved over 25 million. They, they have they are giving to charities with their money. They're learning to make tradeoff decisions. You know, the feedback we get from our customers and the stories that the parents share, I mean, it like gives me chills because it's like it is it's what we were hoping would happen.


Chris Snyder [00:27:20] So you guys have, what, a million or a couple of million accounts in in in these kids have saved twenty-five million dollars on your platform way above that now.


Tim Sheehan [00:27:33] Yeah, that's like several months ago when I checked but yeah about that. They're there. They're doing extremely well. And you know, they're, they're learning the things we were hoping that they would learn.


Chris Snyder [00:27:50] Yeah. And let me think about it. I mean, I know you've been doing this a long time, so you know the answer to this. But if I think about it, you've got, you know, there's, what, three hundred and thirty million people in this country. And, you know you know how many of them are kids? 80 million. 50 million. How big is this market?


Tim Sheehan [00:28:12] Well, it's let's see, there's about 50 million families with a child under I guess it's. Yeah, but basically 50 million families with a child, 18 or younger.


Chris Snyder [00:28:33] Wow. So at least 50 million kids, at least 50. You guys have a couple million accounts. So your mission to help get you one systemically. Yeah. You've got a long ways to go. Yeah, totally. Wait a second. That's a big problem that you're solving.


Tim Sheehan [00:28:57] Awesome. I think, you know, there's I mean, that's my hope. My hope actually is not only that we help all the families in the US, but maybe, you know, over time in other countries as well.


Chris Snyder [00:29:10] Yeah. So I think the things that I took out of that was earning, saving, giving, and messing up is investing. You got it. Wow. So how is that going to work? Is it gonna work like a Robin Hood app or how does that work? Yeah, it's basic, really.


Tim Sheehan [00:29:28] Well, what's cool is that the kids will be able to will help them learn how to do the research, you know, into an ETF for stock. And then they propose investment to the parent that approves that or declines it. And if they approve it, then the purchase will go through, the investment go through. And if it needs to be a fractional share purchase, then it will be, you know, so if they're buying Amazon or Apple or, you know, something very expensive, but they only have 20 dollars or something. That's fine. You know, it'll go through them by a fraction of a share and then over time they can buy more and more. But we're including, you know, because I've done, you know, Yahoo! Finance, and E-Trade. So, no, I know what to teach the kids. You know, I know how to teach people. How to invest. And so I feel like I'm pretty excited about that feature because I feel like I'm uniquely positioned to be able to help the kids learn how to invest. So I'm pretty excited about that one. And I and I also think it's like teaching people how to invest, I think is the way to really address the kind of inequality gap or the wealth gap. You know, I think that's a way that, you know, much more of the middle class and the people without a ton of money, how they can over time start to really increase their net worth.


Chris Snyder [00:31:04] Yeah. And technology is providing this access. It's breaking down barriers. You know, arguably, that's one of the reasons why this the stock market, it's run the, you know, the retail investor is starting to get into the market. It's no longer about how much status you have or the financial adviser that your family has that other folks don't have access to. You know, you sign up for Robinhood, you put a hundred bucks in there and there's a hundred bucks that you can do it. You can actually do it. Now, there needs to be a lot more education around this stuff. I think we may have as a society got that a little bit backwards. I think financial education is super important.


Tim Sheehan [00:31:43] Yeah. And you want him to learn how to invest properly, you know, not kind of gamble it up. You know, you want him to actually do the research and understand that, you know. Oh, OK. You know, this is why this company or this ETF is a good choice.


Chris Snyder [00:32:00] So if you had to think about the product, the target market in cohorts, would you think about it as like we start at what age do they start out? Six. And then. Are there bands of ages that you feel like mentally and from a capability and from a life experience standpoint? Like my eight-year-olds are going to go to the movie theater by himself. No, you go to a movie theater right now, but you talk about those groups.


Tim Sheehan [00:32:27] Yeah, absolutely. It's a good question. When the kids are particularly young, you know, and they're not going out by themselves or with their friends away from their parents, you know, what they're using Greenlight for is chores, tracking and allow earning their allowance, sitting savings goals and seeing their progress toward their savings goals and doing things like that. You know, maybe occasionally they do an online purchase with their parent, you know, watching. Interesting. And then as the kids get a little older, usually in middle school, where they start to spend a little bit of time, you know, away from the parents with their friends, maybe going to get ice cream after school where, you know, things like that. That's where you start to see them use the debit card for spending. So it kind of builds. You know, they start with earn, you know, using the chores, tracking allowances and saving. And then they add in the spending with, you know, parent oversight, the giving functionality as well. And then investing, you know, is probably kind of that next phase for the kids that are ready for that challenge to learn how to invest.


Chris Snyder [00:33:49] So are you. So what's the pathway here? I mean, obviously, you've got a long runway. I mean, if you started, let's call it five years ago or whatever it was, and you had a five-year-old who's your first gal was a five-year-old. They're 10 now. They have a long way to go before they graduate from the current financial products and services that you offer. But is there a vision for you, this path to graduation where eventually you become like a full lifecycle?


Tim Sheehan [00:34:20] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, ideally you would you'd stick with green all the way through where, you know, by the time you are done with college, you are you know, you're on the ball when it comes to personal finance. You understand you have a savings account. You have you know how to make tradeoff decisions. You know how to set goals and save toward those goals. You know how to invest. And you actually have an investment account and have started to build that up. And all of that's possible, you know, before they even leave college. And that's pretty exciting.


Chris Snyder [00:35:00] It's super exciting. They're so far behind otherwise.


Tim Sheehan [00:35:04] Then they're coming out as soon as they come out on their own and they have their first job and they're on their own, they, you know, are really kind of exhibiting all of the healthy financial habits. We want them to do that. And honestly, that will set them up to do really well. That's my hope, is that all these kids that come through Greenlight, that they will they'll be financially successful, they'll be financially confident and financially successful because they understood it. All right. And they navigated the waters well.


Chris Snyder [00:35:43] Yeah. The mistakes you make in college with finances can impact you well into your 30s or 40s. Easily, easily so deep. So do kids have credit scores? Sounds like a dumb question, but what Wendy, what part of the product or is there a part of the product that says, look, your kid has a credit score. Make sure you protect it? Or here's like what? I can't talk about that a little.


Tim Sheehan [00:36:06] Yeah. Usually, it's like at 18 years old. There can be a credit score and the way. So so Greenlight the card is a debit card. It's not a credit card. So it doesn't affect your credit or your credit or anything like that. But what we wanted to do was we felt it was important for the kids to first learn to spend. You can only spend what you have, don't what you don't have, and kind of start from that core base. And then, you know, over time, explain to him what credit is. So they understand it. But we didn't want any of the Greenlight kids and families like we didn't want to contribute to the whole kind of credit card debt problem in the country. So we wanted to keep it more like, you know, learn how to earn money. You save it, you know, spend some of it, hopefully spend wisely. You learn how to invest it. But, you know, and you may give back as well to charity. But, yeah, we didn't want to mess with the whole credit card stuff and credit card debt. I think down the road you might see us do something where we can come up with the right product, where we can help kids or, you know, help 18-year-olds establish excellent credit. But without risk. Without the credit risk.


Chris Snyder [00:37:48] Yeah. Like, you know, get because you can't they can't buy a car. They can't do anything until they establish the ability to effectively pay. Right. I think all of us went through this one to buy a card. Fifteen hundred bucks. That's a junker. Yeah. The Bakers like did you don't have credit, so I can't sell you the car. You're like, well, how am I supposed to make payments on time? We'll give you a loan to make payments on time. That's right.


Tim Sheehan [00:38:12] That's right. Exactly right. So yeah, we have some ideas. We're kicking around and hopefully down the road here, we'll be able to come up with something that works well.


Chris Snyder [00:38:23] That's excellent. Well, let me ask a question. This seems like a no brainer. Like, I've got a 10-year-old and8-year-old. This week, I swear to God, this week we're opening up Greenlight financial accounts for our kids. That's all. Mostly for the chore functionality. No, I'm kidding, because they need to understand their personal finances. And I work all day and I can't sit there and tell them this all the time. Yeah, that'll be awesome. So what, are some of the hurdles then? Maybe like why? I don't understand why everyone wouldn't be doing this. It's a no-brainer. Why are they doing it, some people?


Tim Sheehan [00:38:59] You know. Well, so we're doing our best to get the word out. But I think some people just you know, we haven't reached them yet. We haven't made them aware of Greenlight yet. And we're doing our best to.


Chris Snyder [00:39:10] I started to see some TV commercials, by the way, recently. It looks like a recent thing. Maybe I just like, you know, you're right.


Tim Sheehan [00:39:17] Yeah, you're right. You know, we've started to do that. We're trying to help get the word out. And honestly, our customers have been fantastic about telling their friends and family about Greenlight. That's super helpful. But, yeah, honestly, we're just trying to like as parents ourselves, we're trying to build the product that, you know, all parents would love. Yeah. But at the same time, do it in a way where, you know, be realistic and do and build the product in a way where kids will learn. But, you know, recognize you know, kids aren't really interested in, you know, reading a really long article on something, you know, like they just most of them aren't going to want to go for that kind of thing. And so if you can make it more of an experience while learning process, then then you can get them, because then they're actually like doing something they're, you know. Creating a savings goal, they're saving their money toward it. They can see visually the progress toward it. They have the physical card. It's got their name on it. You know, they see the balances change. You know, if they go and get ice cream at Dairy Queen, they see their parents went down and down. So the next time they might think twice like, hey, hang on here. You know, like my daughter, when we were funding it, you know, she buys ice cream for all her friends. Sure.


Chris Snyder [00:40:55] Money Grows on trees. Right. We talked about that.


Tim Sheehan [00:40:58] You know, but then when it was her money, you know, she's like, well, hold on a second here. I only have ten dollars accounts, so I can't buy every body ice cream. But anyways, it's really interesting. And I think it's fun to see the kids develop and, you know, and learn all of these key things. But, yeah, we're just doing our best to get the word out. You know, we're a small company, but on the good side, we're growing really, really fast. It's kind of taking off. And I really appreciate you saying that, you know, you think it's something everybody can benefit from because you know, that that's what we think. And that's what we were hoping for. That's it.


Chris Snyder [00:41:46] I agree. A hundred percent now, the personal finance manager, there's the PFM piece. personal finance manager pieces. I understand. How do you build a personal finance manager for a kid? Is that a hard thing? That seems like that would be hard to do.


Tim Sheehan [00:42:04] It was. I mean, you kind of alluded to it earlier where, you know, I'm drawing on all of that consumer experience, you know, where like people, they, you know, they scan the screen, you know, they're not going to read a whole lot, you know, so you have to make good use of images and graphics and you need to make it very simple and easy to use and also extremely fast. Yeah, and responsive. And so just leveraging all of that experience where, you know, what makes a fantastic consumer tech product. And because that's really that's what kids want right there, almost. Their expectations are almost ahead of the adult.


Chris Snyder [00:42:55] They play video games, man. You got, you know, like you're already starting at square zero with those accolades.


Tim Sheehan [00:43:01] There are already way out there on the leading edge of UX of UI and. But yeah. Keep it simple. Keep it easy to use for both the parents and the kids. And, you know, don't overdo it. You know, don't overload it with things. You know, things send, you know, to distract and take away from the kind of core purpose of what, you know, they're in the app to do because they're not in the app to, like, just hang out like no Instagram or ticktock. Right. They're there to get stuff done. And you want to just, you know, recognize that and make it as easy and simple and fast as possible for them to complete, you know, whatever it is they're trying to do.


Chris Snyder [00:43:53] Yeah. Tim, I really appreciate your thoughts on this. I want to ask you I know we're short on time, but can you tell me what is Bank of Dad? Can you go into that at all? Yeah. Yeah.


Tim Sheehan [00:44:04] Bank of Dad is or Bank of Mom is essentially when you don't have Greenlight and the kids just come to you and they keep asking for money and money, you know, over and over and over again. And you just feel like you're, you're like endlessly pouring money out to the kids.


Chris Snyder [00:44:31] And so the way my wife and I feel like every other day, every other day, it is honestly like we.


Tim Sheehan [00:44:39] So I have four kids, two boys, two girls. And it's funny because two of them are savers and two of them are spenders. And. And so the, you know, the spenders we really had to work hard at to get them to learn. You know, you need to earn money and then you need to save it, because if you don't save it, then you're not going to have money at the end of the week, you know, to go. Dairy Queen third to go to Dairy Queen or whatever might be. And. And. So, like, when you watch what happens. What was beautiful, it's kind of flipped the model and it worked perfectly because rather than them coming to us, we just said, oh, no. You know, you got to know you did your chores. You got your allowance. That's your money. You have to manage it. Like, don't come to us. That's up to you how you spend it.


Chris Snyder [00:45:39] That's Jedi mind trick stuff.


Tim Sheehan [00:45:40] Total Jedi. And it worked. I just looked at my wife Kelly and I was like, awesome. That worked. Because if that didn't work, I don't know what to do.


Chris Snyder [00:45:51] OK  parents, if you're listening to that, if that doesn't, if that is if you want your kids to start poking you for dollar bills, do this and then you have an excuse to say, look, it's on you. Accountability, responsibility. You've got what you got in there. You figure it out.


Tim Sheehan [00:46:09] That's right. But it does work. I can absolutely attest to it personally. And, of course, you know, we've got millions of parents who I think would support it as well and say it's working for them.


Chris Snyder [00:46:22] I'm psyched about that. OK. Last question. We always leave the show, and I think you've done such great things in your career. You've seen a lot. You've done a lot. Our audience is entrepreneurs, founders, executives. These are mostly mature folks who run businesses or lead large organizations. If you had to give any piece of advice or anything you've learned, how would you leave that for us?


Tim Sheehan [00:46:49] Oh, wow. You mean like business advice?


Chris Snyder [00:46:52] Yeah. Yeah.


Tim Sheehan [00:46:56] I would say if you're building a company, I would say, you know, my favorite word is, is perseverance, because you just have to persevere. It's so hard. And, you know, there's always a million reasons why, quote, it won't work or, you know, the reasons to believe that, you know, yeah. You won't ever achieve what you're trying to achieve. But if you believe it and you stick with it and you never give up, you will get there.


Chris Snyder [00:47:40] Yeah, I love that. I love that perseverance. My last guest said risk. And she was a pretty hardcore founder and entrepreneur, too. And I'm like, OK, so I've got risk word of the day. Perseverance, perseverance from Tim. But you've got to take the risk, which obviously you've done, and then you persevere through this. This is really hard stuff. If you just listen to a podcast and you think you want to be an entrepreneur, you better, like, put your helmet on. This is hard stuff. Yeah, I know that.


Tim Sheehan [00:48:09] Know that you're headed for, you know, on average, seven years of extremely hard work. Yes. Where you're you're pretty much working 7x24 even on your vacations. Yeah. And it's and I was telling somebody I think earlier today. But like, it's kind of like having a child where you never worked harder in your life. You are exhausted. You, like all your free time, is gone. But at the same time, it's wonderful. So it's like this combination of you never worked harder in your life. But it's also wonderful.


Chris Snyder [00:48:54] Yeah. You look in the mirror and you go, I did that. Yeah. It is very fulfilling work if you can make it work. But you've got to go through a lot of pain to make it worth a ton of pain. It is.


Tim Sheehan [00:49:05] It is. So I mean, it's like it's funny because as soon as you kind of start to have success, you know, it from the outside it looks like, oh, you know, you know, I think we could do that. We could do something like that. But what's not observable is all that time you spent underground, like digging down and working your tail off. And nobody really sees that. Yeah. It's usually several years that you're working really, really hard and nobody is really noticing.


Chris Snyder [00:49:42] Yeah. And I also say you get hit in the head by a two by four. That's literally. I've actually never been hit in the head by a two by four. But you're cruising along. You saw the big problem. This was like your seventh problem of the week. You're like, yeah. Nailed it. You walk around the next corner, bam, you just get slapped in the face, a full-blown two by four. And you're like, what? I just can't do it anymore.


Tim Sheehan [00:50:09] It's true. There's like an endless supply of challenges. Yeah. You deal with one, there's another one ready to take its place.


Chris Snyder [00:50:18] You got to be there. Right. You gotta be the right person. Well, Tim, I appreciate you having perseverance in bringing this product to market for all of us, especially those of you with kids. This is amazing. Tim Sheean is the CEO and co-founder of Greenlight, a debit card for kids and a mobile app that empowers parents with convenient controls to safely manage family finances. Amazing. Thank you so much for your time today, Tim.


Tim Sheehan [00:50:48] Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me. All right.

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