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Shockingly, most Americans — 60% ― don’t have enough money in savings to cover a $1,000 emergency, such as a car repair or emergency room visit, according to Bankrate’s 2019 Financial Security Index survey. From 1960 to 1980, the US household savings rate ranged between 10% and 13%. Since then, the savings rate has declined to just 3.4%, according to the World Economic Forum. Entrepreneurial companies are focusing on fixing the problem.
“What we know from a lot of research is that there are two ways to succeed [at saving more],” said Jean Chatzky, Today financial editor. “Either you want to be totally mindful or totally mindless [about saving]. In the middle doesn’t work.” Apps, such as the Long Game, fall into the mindless category and have enormous potential to change saving habits.
People think that saving is a low-income problem. “I’ve had trouble managing my finances,” said Lindsay Holden, cofounder and CEO at Long Game. “I like gambling.” She thought, what if you could encourage people to save by offering a chance to win cash via a raffle? The US Lottery market size is expected to reach $379.7 billion by 2025, according to the Lottery Market Global Key Player, Demand, Growth, Opportunities and Analysis Forecast.
“We know how to drive people’s behaviors in gaming … It’s been done in the UK and has been super effective in helping people save money,” she continued. Long Game is a prize-linked saving app. It uses gamification and Instagram engagement techniques to help people save more.
When it comes to their money, people put a high premium on trustworthiness and security. Cognitively, a lottery app that sits on top of a saving account doesn’t jive. While the concept was proven in the UK, it has not been in the US. This was a big challenge for the company.
Long Game takes advantage of legislation that recognizes the potential of prize-linked savings to change Americans savings habits. The American Savings Promotion Act was signed into law at the end of 2014. It allows financial institutions to conduct contests, known as a “savings promotion raffle,” in which each ticket or entry has an equal chance of being drawn.
Young adults are heavy users of technology and open to using technology in new ways. Long Game targets young people who are more open to new uses of technology. Users are mostly 18 to 26 years old. The app is pleasing to look at. It has a clean and colorful design plus offers a variety of fun apps. “Consumers get the concept and they love engaging with Long Games … We have 200,000 users today and we are growing fast,” said Holden.
Fundraising is never easy, but Holden has had success. Perhaps it is the enormity of the problem and the potential of the solution. Or because she has worked in venture capital and is a serial entrepreneur, having founded Innovative Auctions. Or perhaps it is that that the app has demonstrated the product/market fit. Long Game has raised $9.2 million, including $6.6 million in venture capital from Thrive Capital and Collaborative Fund, and $2.6 million from angels.
One of the biggest challenges was to find an FDIC bank to partner. Few banks took advantage of The American Savings Promotion Act. Holden approached many banks before finding one that was willing to work with Long Game. It may seem lucky that Holden found Blue Ridge Bank, an FDIC insured bank that has been around since the 1800s.
However, it was persistence and what might seem like to some as an unusual place to find a bank partner — social media — that paid off. She found Blue Ridge on Twitter and reached out to the CEO via LinkedIn. After months of discussion, they inked a deal. As Oprah Winfrey has said, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” The reality is that preparation for opportunity is the key to being successful, not luck.
How will you prepare for opportunity?
April 3, 2019 at 09:35AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs