Kiwi start-up making kids money smart

Co-founder of the EdTech start-up Banqer, kiwi Kendall Flutey always had the entrepreneurial spark. At 7, she created a 20-cent newsletter subscription for kids at school and sold toys from a stall in her front yard. Today Kendall is leading Banqer, an award-winning cloud software designed to equip school kids with savvy financial skills, but she wasn’t always thriving in the world of tech start-ups.  

In this week’s Success Story, Kendall shares with Catherine Robson how a single tweet set her on the path to start-up success and why she took the leap from a traditional career path, embraced the unknown and discovered who she was really meant to be.

Banqer was launched in 2011 following a conversation Kendall had with her then-11-year-old brother, Jordy, around classroom currency his teacher used to motivate students.

“I was blown away because Jordy was intrigued, he had clearly learnt a lot, he was using words like compound interest and investments. He was engaged,” says Kendall.

Kendall met with his teacher, Micah Hocquard and offered to bring her tech skills to the project and create a digital platform for the classroom currency. Kendall soon realised the project could scale to tackle the problem of financial literacy beyond her brother’s classroom.

“This problem transcended his school, our city and country. Financial illiteracy is a global epidemic. When we started putting some statistics around the potential impact we could make, I realised the solution needed to be bigger than myself and my brother as well. So, that’s when we started thinking for the first time on a larger scale.”

Banqer is simulated online banking for a classroom, providing a hands-on environment for kids to becoming financially capable with money by managing their own virtual finances. It won the Wellington Startup Weekend in 2014, has been hugely successful in NZ and was recently welcomed into the Australian classrooms.

Kendall has thrived in forging her own, unique career path, but this wasn’t always the case. After studying accounting and landing a role with KPMG, Kendall made the bold decision to walk away from the job after 6 months. She didn’t know the next step, only that the corporate life wasn’t for her.

“It took me awhile to build up the courage to quit. My family, I’m not sure they understood initially,” says Kendall.

“I knew within 3 weeks of my time as KPMG that it wasn’t for me but it took me at least 6 months to formally identify that, recognise that and to quit”.

“I just knew I had to get out of that environment and afford myself the luxury of considering what I actually wanted to do.”

“Out there in the corporate world, or otherwise, you’re just fully consumed by what you’re doing and there’s no minute, let alone hour, to consider your real purpose in life. So yeah, I just jumped out of the stream completely.”

Kendall’s next step opened up soon after leaving KPMG, when the 12-week immersive coding boot camp, Dev Academy, launched in New Zealand. Coding was something she’d loved exploring but had never seriously pursued.

She discovered the Dev Academy course via a single tweet from Rod Drury, CEO of cloud accounting software company Xero and it became the turning point in Kendall’s life.

“The course was the most challenging, intensive, life changing, high education course I’ve ever done.”

“Apart from the technical skills that we gained, although they were challenging and we were working 100+ hour weeks for those 12 weeks, they spend a lot of time on developing the person.”

“We did a whole program called engineering empathy which was based on Google’s training program – Search Inside Yourself”  The training program is centred around the book, Search Inside Yourself, by Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google’s earliest engineers.

It was shortly after finishing the course that Kendall met Micah Hocquard and their tech start up journey began.

The future is bright for Banqer and Kendall is an uplifting example of the courage it takes to quit what you know and take the road less travelled. For start-ups, she recommends the book The Lean Start-up – Eric Ries and for anyone considering a bold career move, Hope For The Flowers – Trina Paulus, a picture book for adults.

“It’s a book about caterpillars, I won’t give too much away but if you’re slightly unsure about whether corporate or start up is for you, I think it will sway you into taking the leap”

In the podcast, Kendall talks about why she embraced a minimalist approach to life, her future vision for Banqer and advice for wannabe start-ups. Kendall also recommends the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.

Listen to the full podcast through the player above or subscribe on iTunes.