Our young entrepreneurs are at the forefront of many successful and expanding businesses.
Many of these companies embrace cutting edge innovations, create new technologies and break new ground. We spoke with 26-year-old Kendall Flutey from Banqer on how she uses her age to her advantage.
Can you tell us what Banqer is and why you created it?
Banqer is a financial education platform for primary and intermediate schools. It monetises the classroom giving students first-hand experience managing personal finances within their new classroom economy. They earn income, interest, pay tax, insurance and mortgages, and it's all managed from their own Banqer account. It’s a safe environment for them to get curious, creative, and eventually confident with money.
The creation of Banqer was initially a personal project for my (much) younger brother and his class. He had an amazing teacher who was running a paper-based financial education scheme in his class and the changes I saw in my brother were massive. I simply wanted to build on the experience they were having and his teacher is now one of my co-founders.
Good timing, a great team and solid social underpinnings saw us shift from that initially narrow focus to now being used by more than 20,000 kids all around New Zealand.
Sure some people make snap judgements and assumptions when you walk into their boardroom, but on the whole I’ve felt my age to be another tool in my arsenal, or at the very least a differentiator and conversation starter.
In what ways have you broken new ground with your app?
The majority of society would agree that financial literacy is a crucial life skill, but the solution to delivering this is somewhat outdated and antiquated. Banqer took the successful EdTech model and applied it to this life skill, simulating the real world economy in a classroom environment. Technically what we did in our product had never been done before so a lot of what we have been doing is following our nose.
We can learn from other educational software, but the application to simulated financial education always means that our delivery is extremely novel and uncharted. This is both a blessing and a curse as we get to live outside constraints and expectations, but we also have to gauge success without predefined metrics.
How has your age been an advantage and in what ways is it a challenge?
Age, and in turn naivety, were my saving graces when I set out establishing Banqer. Initially, having limited start-up experience meant I lacked fear and was persistently optimistic. Over time, my expectations have adjusted with experience, and knowing what I do now I can’t help my feel more daunted than I did previously.
Age is also something you can’t really hide. At first, I found this uncomfortable, like a child in jeans among adults in suits. I had to get over that, and I’m happy to wear my age with pride. Sure some people make snap judgements and assumptions when you walk into their boardroom, but on the whole, I’ve felt my age to be another tool in my arsenal, or at the very least a differentiator and conversation starter.
Do you find that people are inspired by you?
I’m fortunate to be solving a problem that people inherently really care about. I haven’t yet to meet someone who wanted the world to remain financially illiterate. I think it’s for this reason that people are more inspired by the work we do at Banqer. And given that most people have had experience with online banking themselves, the technology we produce isn’t too daunting and they understand the concept. Therefore the solution resonates rather than intimidates.
Why is it exciting to work in the tech space right now?
Having worked in the corporate world before turning to software development, I now feel like I’m directly shaping the future as opposed to maintaining the status quo. This is a feeling that is a lot easier to achieve working in tech, given that we’re pioneering the next frontier, through crafting new, largely online products.
Tech is also unpredictable, something that is certainly exciting but can also feel unsettling. My days look vastly different to one another and things are typically moving at a very fast pace, with every player in the industry pushing one another, always learning and always adapting. Tech, especially tech start-ups aren’t for the faint-hearted but you do harden to it over time. I’m in a position now where I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.