Deciding when your child is ready to start receiving an allowance is tricky territory. Plus, cash can be an unreliable way to track how your child is spending that allowance — did they go to the campus bookstore or the comic store? According to a report, 86 percent of parents use cash as the primary way to give their kids money but they would prefer a better solution.
Greenlight offers a new way to give your child the money he needs while monitoring where they can go. With their parental control-enabled debit card you can add a specific amount of money, select the stores they can shop at and monitor their activity through the mobile app. With features like real-time notifications, freezing ability and safe transactions, Greenlight is all about piece of mind.
We talked to CEO Tim Sheehan about why financial literacy is essential for kids, their store-level controls patents and why they decided to build their company in Atlanta.
Year/Date Founded: 2014
Number of Employees: 11
What’s your current funding situation?
Greenlight raised $1.7 million in an angel round provided by Boom Ventures, Tech Square Labs, and angel investors. We’re currently raising a $3 million round.
What’s your pitch?
Greenlight is the debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones with our flexible parental controls. Greenlight’s patent-pending system of store-level controls is a worldwide first. Parents can pick the exact stores, category of stores, restaurants, or websites where their children can spend. In addition, kids can send spending requests to their parents at any time, and if approved, the money is transferred to them instantly. Both parents and children receive real-time notifications of any purchase activity creating teachable moments. Finally, parents can set up automatic allowances, freeze a card at any time, and view spending history all from our mobile app.
What problem are you solving?
Teaching your children how to be smart with money is a major challenge that should start at a very early age. Cash is unsafe, easy to lose, hard for parents to track, and inconvenient for parents who (these days) find themselves short of cash when they need to give spending money or an allowance because parents are almost always using their credit cards and debit cards for purchases. Parents need a safer, more trackable and manageable way to give spending money and allowances to their kids while teaching them the concepts of money management.
Why is it important for parents to teach financial literacy to kids while young?
There are many concepts parents need to teach their kids, but few as important as financial literacy. As kids grow older, they will need to make many difficult decisions involving money. From an evening out with friends, to paying for college, to buying a home, these decisions will only become more complicated. Providing children the right foundation at an early age will help them make the right decisions and best prepare them for the future.
Tell me about the security features of the app since it involves the users’ kids.
Safety and security are critically important to parents and to us. Greenlight has bank-like security in place (all communications between the Greenlight app and server are SSL encrypted, our databases are encrypted, etc.) All of the funds in Greenlight are FDIC-insured. In addition, since parents set specific stores and places their children can spend, it’s fairly difficult for would-be thieves to know where the card will work. Plus, if a child ever misplaces the card, parents (and kids!) can freeze/unfreeze the card within the Greenlight app at any time. Finally, Greenlight doesn’t work at ATMs, doesn’t allow cash-back at stores, and automatically blocks spending in categories such as gambling.
You have a patented store parental control feature. Tell us more details about why this is beneficial to parents.
Greenlight’s store-level controls allow parents to choose the specific places where their children can spend and how much can be spent. This helps parents teach their children about money and budgeting at an early age with an extra layer of parental control that’s never been available before.
What’s your revenue model?
Greenlight offers a 30-day free trial and it’s just $4.99/month for your entire family thereafter.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
Our biggest competitor is actually cash — 86 percent of parents use cash as the primary way to give their kids money. Unfortunately, cash can be lost or stolen and it’s dangerous to leave too much with our children. In addition, parents don’t have visibility into where their kids are spending the cash they’ve been given which limits a parent’s ability to provide them teachable moments.
How does ATL weave into your story?
Greenlight is part of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which has been extremely supportive and helpful and several of our employees and interns are from Georgia Tech. Since Atlanta is the payments hub of the world, most of our fantastic investors and advisors live and work in the Atlanta area.