Tanya Van Court: Changing the World, One Savings Account at a Time
Parna: What’s unique about your company?
Tanya: Goalsetter covers kids from cradle to graduation and is so much more than a kid’s debit card. We give newborns their first savings accounts that the whole family can contribute to. Five-year-olds can start taking our financial literacy quizzes, earning money from allowance, and receiving GoalCards instead of gift cards on birthdays and holidays — real money towards real dreams.
Eight-year-olds, tweens, and teens can get their first debit card, and use it to learn smart spending — literally. We attach financial literacy quizzes to our debit cards so that they automatically turn off on Sunday morning if kids haven’t taken their financial literacy quiz for the week.
Finally, we offer financial literacy quizzes rooted in memes and GIFs from social media influencers, hip hop personalities, and pop culture, so that we are making financial education fun and compelling. There is a 12-year old girl in Brooklyn who was being interviewed by an ABC News anchor who asked what she loved best about Goalsetter. She said, before using Goalsetter, she thought money was all about saving and spending. Now she knows it’s about the rule of 72, compound interest, and frugality. Kids are learning the language of money — a language that can change their lives.
Parna: How did you get started?
Tanya: The average African American household net worth is $8,000 and the average net worth of white households is $110,000. So, calling upon friends and family for financial support was not an option. I attended a Stanford National Black Alumni Association meeting and listened to a panel that discussed technology, entrepreneurship and how black alumni can support black kids who are coming out of Stanford and want to start a business. When the panel asked if there were any questions, I took the mic and said, “I want to tell everyone that I’m starting a business and here’s what my business is. And if anyone’s interested in investing, I would love to have you invest.” That was my first elevator pitch, and I got some of my very first checks from fellow African American Stanford Alumni.
As the product progressed, I knew that I needed additional angel funding, and someone introduced me to Barbara Clarke. Barbara met me at a diner in Manhattan, an hour before her train back to Boston. She was a combination of the smartest and most supportive person I had met. I remember feeling like she didn’t just barrage me with questions and judge my answers. Barbara just wanted to know how she can help me. That was the start of a multi-year relationship in which she has asked that same question countless times.
Parna: What was Barbara’s role in the growth of the company?
Tanya: Barbara was both the force and the source. She was the source of help from the beginning — the source of meaningful introductions, advice, capital, connections, and inspiration. As bumps emerged in my entrepreneurial journey, she also became the force that propelled me forward. Barbara introduced me to Pipeline Angels and Astia Angels, that became our lead investor — and committed to helping us find a lead for our deal. Barbara will not let a company that she believes in die.
Parna: What is Barbara’s impact on entrepreneurs?
Tanya: When Barbara funds a black female entrepreneur, she doesn’t just propel that person — she propels families, communities and cultures. She is spawning an entire economic shift in this country by fueling entrepreneurship and wealth creation among a group of people that receive less than one percent of VC investment. It’s profound that one woman can impact so much with the force of her will and her might.
Parna: What message do you have for Barbara?
Tanya: Keep being a visionary and a humanitarian as well as the extraordinary investor that you are.
She’s proving the VC industry and its traditional patterns of investing are wrong, and in the process, showing them what smart, equitable, and profitable investing look like. Spoiler Alert: It looks like America…all of America.
Originally published at https://www.impactseat.com on November 9, 2020.