Flourish, the fun way to save!

A personal finance tool that helps young individuals establish savings habits and achieve financial security using games and rewards.

Photo of Pedro Moura
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Eligibility

  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States

Gender

  • Choose not to respond

Where are you making a difference?

Berkeley, CA, 94706

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise

Date Started

June 2017

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

http://www.FlourishSavings.com

Twitter URL

https://www.instagram.com/flourishsavings/

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/FlourishSavings

LinkedIn URL

https://www.linkedin.com/company/flourishsavings/

1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

As a teenager, Pedro immigrated from Brazil having to navigate finances alone, overcoming barriers to teach himself healthy money habits. After 6 years at Oportun helping the LatinX community establish credit, he realized that financial health goes beyond access to credit and set-forth to tackle the lack of savings in his community. As a child, Jessica’s father fell ill and her mother worked hard as the family’s sole provider. She faced many financial hardships; vowing to help others in similar situations, she spent 10 years in the nonprofit sector and became passionate about empowering others to find financial stability. Our team leverages resilience, empathy, and fun to support our community to build a better financial future.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Nearly half of American households do not have enough set aside to cover an unexpected emergency. This is more alarming for minorities and first-generation immigrants who are more likely to lack a financial safety net. Without short-term savings, financial shocks that might seem small to some can destabilize the financially vulnerable. Saving becomes more difficult as people associate stress and anxiety with the topic of money.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Flourish creates an engaging experience for individuals from low to moderate income backgrounds by rewarding responsible financial behavior. We focus on building savings habits by leveraging commitments and celebrating small actions, allowing our users to feel in control of how they build up to their goals, while encouraging them to go further with the chance to win prizes.


In mobile app, users track their savings growth in a game-like interface that visualizes their commitment. As the user deposits and keep money into their savings account, they unlock rewards by participating in fun activities. Inspired by prize-linked savings these activities include a weekly raffle, games that allow them to compete with the Flourish community for prizes, and rewards given by achieving savings milestones.

We believe that building financial habits should be tangible, social, and fun so that individuals can overcome the stressful and overwhelming feelings that associated with money. These feelings cause individuals to avoid interacting with their finances and planning for the future, but if they find rewarding and enjoyable reasons to save, they can begin building healthy financial habits.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Take for example, Yolanda, a recent college grad with student debt who wants to start an emergency fund. She would download Flourish for the excitement of winning prizes. In a game like process we help her set a commitment. After seeing a preview of our games and rewards, she links her bank account. When Yolanda deposits money into her savings, she will see her progress. Based on how much she has saved, she will have the opportunity to enter a weekly raffle (drawing from prize-linked savings research). Yolanda can also choose to play a game and when she has the top score of the community at the end of the week, she gets a prize. Encouraged by the access to prizes, Yolanda is able to meet her goals. When she meets her commitment she gets another opportunity to unlock a prize. These prizes range from more game play within Flourish to small monetary rewards such as coupons and gift cards.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Our team has a first hand perspective into the needs of this population as we grew up in lower-income immigrant communities. We interviewed 200+ potential users, and many mentioned that mainstreamed institutions do not care about servicing and aligning with their interests. We will enable individuals who are often underserved by designing a product with flexible requirements (such as not requiring a Social Security number) and creating a bilingual and multicultural experience.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • immigration status
  • work status
  • language
  • race/ethnicity
  • age - youth
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Traditional financial institutions tend to have high barriers to access, such as monthly fees, minimum balance requirements, and older technology platforms. Their solutions do not address the psychological barriers to saving and have failed at getting people to save enough. Some companies such as Digital and Acorn have taken the approach of automation distancing people from financial tasks, but we believe that in order to truly build financial health there must be some awareness and direct engagement. There are very few organizations truly making an effort to serve the immigrant community.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

From the early days our team got together for the positive impact we wanted to make in our community.

Our most recent MVP had a batch of 50 users, and we are currently redesigning for future iterations in order to scale our impact. We have interviewed 200+ individuals and can see our solution supporting millions of everyday Americans engage and take care of their finances. We have lined up a banking partner that shares our mission; and in the next six months, we will be expanding our product testing to thousand of users so we can both continue to maximize our impact as well as refine our engagement and game mechanics.

As part of discovery work and co-designing with our community, our founders have held multiple workshops to engage individuals in different topics around personal finance.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

We are building partnerships with organizations that share similar guiding principles. These organizations include a community as our initial pilot partner, and we are exploring partnership with different community organizations who are trusted by the community such as Opportunity Fund and the Mexican Consulate. In terms of brand building, we understand that is very important to work with influencers that our users trust and this range from non-profit, local schools to social media influencers and other channel partners.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Large Scale Partnerships
  • Campaigns

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our users, like Yolanda, get a free, fun, and engaging way to save. Our banking partners which are struggling to drive new deposits and create engagement with young customers will get a source of deposits as well as product referral. Thus far, we have bootstrapped, using personal money and awards from startup competition. We are currently applying to grants and seeking to raise a “pre-seed” round from angel investors.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Pedro Moura (CEO) with over eight years of consumer finance. He led and expanded the retail operations at Oportun and spearheaded implementation and growth of the mobile product. Jessica (COO) with 10 years of experience in technology and operations within the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Ramses (Designer + Developer) with over 15 years of design and product development. Roberto (Game Design and Developer) with previous CTO experience and creator of award winning games.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

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Photo of Christopher Rodriguez

This seems like a very useful platform and a creative method of increasing savings account usage in a modern way