Meet the co-founders of Spriggy, who just banked $35 million in their mission to boost financial literacy for kids

Spriggy

Spriggy co-founders Mario Hasanakos and Alex Badran. Source: Supplied

Aussie pocket-money startup Spriggy has bagged $35 million in Series B funding, as it looks to build on the momentum built during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift away from cash.

SmartCompany caught up with co-founders Mario Hasankos and Alex Badran to talk about the future of finance, the roadmap ahead, and why they don’t want Spriggy to exist in 30 years’ time.

What is Spriggy?

Founded in 2015 by Hasankos and Badran, Spriggy is a digital pocket-money app, allowing parents to load cash onto prepaid cards for kids.

The app also helps kids monitor and manage their own spending, encouraging healthy money management skills.

Spriggy banked $2.5 million in funding in 2017, as it rode the wave of demand for consumer-focused fintech.

In 2019, it secured $12 million Series A funding, led by Grok Ventures, the VC fund of Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Since then, the world has changed somewhat. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift away from cash in general, and led to a “massive increase” in use of Spriggy, both from new and existing users, Hasankos tells SmartCompany.

Revenues have been growing by about 80%, year-on-year, for the past three years, he adds, and there are now about 500,000 using the platform.

He says about 3% of all Aussie families use Spriggy at least once a month.

“You can’t walk down the street in a Spriggy shirt now without a parent taking you aside and saying they love it,” he adds.

Who are the investors?

The $35 million Series B round is led by NAB Ventures, with executive Todd Forrest joining the Spriggy board.

It also includes investment from Perennial Value Management, and repeat backing from Grok Ventures.

Securing funding from such high-profile investors is a “great validation”, Hasankos says.

The investors have seen just how many families use, and love, Spriggy’s product, and they all bring “wonderfully different perspectives”, he adds.

Interest from NAB in particular shows a commitment to financial innovation and education, and it’s indicative of a broader trend of startups and incumbents working together.

But for Badran, the greatest validation doesn’t come from investors, it comes from customers. Securing capital is a win the founders could not have achieved without impressing users first.

“Customers vote with their feet,” he says.

“There’s an unmet need in this space,” he adds.

“It’s critical for us that we don’t forget that we’re building a solution for parents and kids. That’s been at the heart of everything we do.”

Why now?

The time was right to raise this significant chunk of capital because, at this stage, capital is what will allow the business to accelerate its growth.

Spriggy has always been pretty capital-efficient, Hasankos says, and the team has spent a long time making sure they’re providing a product that actually works for its customers.

“We’ve demonstrated a really strong product market fit.”

Now, they needed some money in the bank to reach more families, and build the extra products they’re asking for.

What’s next?

Accordingly, a large chunk of the funding will fuel a “very ambitious and very well validated” roadmap that will feature new products across earning, saving and investing, Badran explains.

The Spriggy team is eager to go “deeper and wider into tackling more financial problems,” he adds, helping parents build up kids’ financial literacy.

Badran and Hasankos expect to triple Spriggy’s workforce within the next 12 months, across the whole team, and with a focus on product engineering and design.

To date, it’s been a team of “very talented generalists”, Badran says. Now, they’re bringing in specialists who can focus on growth areas.

And beyond?

Typically, when we ask founders about the big, hairy, audacious goals, we hear about dreams of global domination and getting the product into the hands of every user the world over.

Hasankos’ answer is a little different: he’s not dreaming of unicorn status or becoming a billionaire.

In fact, he hopes that in 20 to 30 years, Spriggy won’t even exist.

There’s a generation of children growing up who will likely never handle a bank note. That poses a challenge for parents. The same rules don’t apply anymore.

“We really have an opportunity to shape the next generation,” Hasankos says, “to use the change that comes with tech, not to accept it passively, but build tools around it.”

The idea is to help parents raise children who will be comfortable with their finances as adults. They will then be equipped to pass on that knowledge to their kids.

“A lot of people are trapped in this cycle of illiteracy,” Hasankos adds.

“If we can help break that, that would be a wonderful few decades of work.”

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