SXSW Startups: Goalsetter Saves for Kids

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 6, 2018

SXSW recently posted the 50 finalists for the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event. Half of these startups will demo their talents on Saturday, March 10, and the remaining 25 on Sunday, March 11. Winners in 10 categories will be honored at the Accelerator Award Ceremony at 7 pm Sunday, March 11, at the Hilton Austin. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event takes place within the Startup & Tech Sectors track of programming.

For this interview, we spoke with Tanya Van Court, founder and CEO of Goalsetter, a goal-based savings and gifting platform for kids and their families, combining the best of goal-based savings platforms like Acorns with gift-registries like Zola. Based in New York City, Goalsetter enables families to easily save for kids’ goals and simultaneously teaches kids healthy financial habits early. See their pitch and the other finalists in Payment and FinTech Technologies category at 11 am Sunday, March 11, in Salon AB of the Austin Hilton.

What inspired your team to apply for SXSW Accelerator?
SXSW is a brand that represents innovation and “what’s next” for the world. We think we’re what’s next for the world of kids, families and personal finance, so we wanted to be a part of the “what’s next” conversation!
 
What kinds of people is your team looking to meet at SXSW 2018?
We are looking to network with early-stage investors and potential partners. If you’re not sure what kind of partnership you might have with us, but think we’re interesting, we guarantee that we can dream up something that’s mutually compelling.

Has Goalsetter been involved with other pitch events before?
Goalsetter won the Quesnay Female Fintech pitch event in NY in December, and we learned — first and foremost — to not underestimate the other female fintech companies in the space. We competed against a slate of awesome companies, so it was important for us to both speak to our judges as business leaders and as potential consumers, because any great product is really about both. 
 
As Goalsetter is based in New York, what can you tell us about the New York startup ecosystem?
The New York startup ecosystem is amazing for a fintech company because we have a whole host of startup fintech companies we can learn from and established financial services companies with whom we can partner.

What technology does your team think is most overrated at present?
We’re not so excited about self-driving cars. While we think that self-driving cars will have specific applications in the next 20 years, we don’t think the average metropolis will be taken over by self-driving cars. Particularly not for those of us who like to drive (fast), who don’t like sitting in the back seat, and who think that driving on the FDR or the Jackie Robinson in NYC is way more fun than being driven in a robotic taxi.

What podcasts does your team listening to?
We are all about “How we Built This.” The stories of companies in every sector — replete with their very real and insane pitfalls, the sheer tenacity of their founders, the incredible vision of people who believed in a future world before anyone else could see that future as an even remote possibility — are riveting and inspiring. And sometimes, they’re just the air that you need while trekking Mt. Everest without a Sherpa on this crazy entrepreneurial journey. 
 
Which aspects of the startup experience do you enjoy most?
Getting to touch every piece of the business and solve myriad problems — from User Experience to Business Strategy to Creative Copy to Pitches. It’s fun to weave the tapestry together in my brain — to hear what a user says in a User Experience session, and think through how that perspective might impact our revenue model or our marketing copy or our competitive positioning. It’s like a daily Ken Ken puzzle that is hankering to be solved. 
 
What has the startup experience taught you about life?
Startups and life are both team sports, and whether you win or lose is entirely dependent upon the team who is flanking you. We try to surround ourselves with people who are passionate, positive and persistent. Startups ain’t for wimps.

Person, company, thing or goal. What inspires your team to work harder?
Person times 96 million. There are 96 million kids in the U.S. alone, and if they don’t understand the basics of personal finance, we will have another generation of haves and have nots, another generation of people who live check to check and prioritize consumerism over building wealth. According to the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, soaring markets helped the top 1% of Americans increase their slice of national wealth to 39% in 2016, while the bottom 90% of families hold less than 25% of the nation’s wealth. That’s what inspires our team to try to make a difference through Goalsetter — the hope that we can impact the financial literacy and health of all children, not just those in the top 1%.

Actors, athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, whoever — you can invite any three living people from anywhere in the world to dinner. Which three people do you invite and why?
Serena Williams, because she epitomizes grit, starting from the bottom, and transforming her life by being a Goalsetter. Elon Musk because anyone who makes electric cars sexy will definitely have words of wisdom for making personal finance sexy. And last, but certainly not least, President Barack Obama because he emulates leading with kindness, honesty, integrity, and acceptance of all people.

Look for interviews with other SXSW Accelerator finalists in this space between now and March. Startups already profiled as part of this series include 70MillionJobs, Bluefield, Cambridge Cancer Genomics, DashTag, HealthTensor, Instreamatic, PolyPort, Sceenic, and UPGRADED.

Or, click here to browse the full lineup of startups for SXSW Accelerator 2018.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.