Zone Startups Profiles: Thrive Savings

In this ongoing series, we celebrate our newest companies, give some background, and show where they’re headed.

This week, we have an interview with Jordan, CEO of Thrive Savings, the first free AI-powered personal savings tool in Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Founders

Jordan Wimmer, CEO

  • BA from Western University
  • MBA from the International University of Monaco
  • Worked as a private equity and hedge fund analyst for EFG Eurofinancière D’Investissements, as a partner with Nomos Capital, and a director with DQN Global Partners
  • Launched Kyro Capital, a Toronto-based investment boutique, and helped grow Long Game Savings in Silicon Valley
  • Rich experience in finance, investment strategies, negotiations, consumer-focused financial apps, and product launches

Reuben Piryatinsky, CPO

  • Bachelor of Computer Science from University of Waterloo
  • MBA from Ivey Business School at Western University
  • Worked as engineer with Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg, with Algorithmics managing SaaS-based risk management products while servicing major global banks and asset managers, and with OANDA launching an industry-leading mobile trading experience
  • Deep understanding of scalability, security, and performance aspects, as well as UX, consumer products, and financial regulations

How did you meet?

We met by networking in Toronto’s startup community.

How did you come up with the idea for Thrive?

As a banker, I’d been involved in financing deals with institutional clients and had not had much exposure to retail consumer finance. Moving to San Francisco to work at a financial inclusion startup represented a huge shift in my thinking around the underbanked, underserved, and savings problem. I would often talk to young people and families that would barely be able to make it to the end of the month.

Contrast this with my Uber, Lyft, Blue Bottle and SightGlass coffee habits—the dichotomy of this was not lost on me. I started looking for ways to penalize myself based on my luxury spending, then donate on a weekly basis. After a few months, I had saved enough for a plane ticket to Toronto.

I thought it was interesting how the amount varied week to week, and wanted to be able to automate this process. Meeting Reuben in 2016 and talking about our shared experiences in banking, the chaos of going through the ‘08 financial crisis, and our desire to do good, solidified our vision for Thrive.

Describe your company: the short version

Dreams delivered. Thrive is savings for a new generation.

Describe your company: the long version

Thrive is a fintech company that is introducing a purely mobile and fully custom savings concept to the Canadian market. It’s free for the user, with no friction or effort required. The essence behind our company is simple: we are making savings realistic for people who were never able to put money aside, and then empower them to grow in their financial journey.

By connecting to our users’ chequing accounts, we are able to monitor and analyze their spending and automatically set money aside for them every few days. We slide this money from their chequing account into a savings account that we open in their name, at our Bank Partner.

The value proposition is that Thrive is dynamic to each user, and adaptive to their circumstances and lifestyle. What this means practically is that everyone is saving a different amount of money that we can ‘find’ for them: an amount that they don’t need, won’t miss, and will blend into their current lifestyle. In many of our test cases, we were able to save well over $1000/year and, in many cases, much more. We don’t tell our users to change their behaviour or shift their spending. We simply ask them to connect, then go back to living their lives.

Describe your ideal customer and their use case

You can broadly call this the millennial demographic, so roughly 22–35 initially. It’s a group that are native smartphone users, early adopters, and welcoming of trying new technology out.

Our user feels a general disconnect with some of the larger retail banking incumbents, and they haven’t yet picked a bank to be loyal to. They feel some economic pessimism; we’ll hear statements like “I thought I’d be further ahead” or “How am I going to afford a condo let alone a home?” It’s important for us to be able to bridge the gap between our user and financial institutions.

How is your company different than your competitors?

Fundamentally we wanted Thrive to be available to anyone, so there’s no minimum account size or hurdles for our users to jump over. They only need to be 18 years old and have an existing chequing account with a financial institution—a bank or credit union. It was really important for us to keep the demands low so Thrive would be accessible to a wide audience and not exclude anyone.

Another important element of Thrive is that we are a tool of empowerment; our users look to us to make their financial lives better, not worse. We have a saying in our company: “responsibility, not consumerism.” We’ve designed a product that doesn’t ask you to spend money. Imagine asking a user to spend money in order to save. Are the users really saving?

Lastly, our users told us that they were tired of being told “no, you can’t have that.” They want to save money but maintain their perks, whether it be their Starbucks habit, Soul Cycle classes, or Thursday drinks on the patio. We got that message loud and clear. So rather than instructing our users of what they can’t have, we designed the product to adapt to their lifestyle, not the other way around. We wanted no sacrifices, to fit to our users’ lives, and to find them ‘spare’ money.

What do you hope to accomplish while at Ryerson Futures?

Joining RFI was an exciting step for our company. It meant being in a best-in-class business accelerator, being surrounded by some of the top startups in Canada, and receiving mentorship from individuals who have made it big as entrepreneurs. This summer, we’ll onboard our first users in a closed beta, and we’re gearing for public launch later this year. Longer term, we are planning to introduce new product offerings that go beyond savings, to further grow our customers’ finances and connect them to the right financial products.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Our ambition is to grow Thrive into a trusted financial platform, used by many thousands of people around the world. We want to have made a significant and positive impact in our users’ lives: help them move away from living paycheque to paycheque, and move up the financial ladder. We want to become a major and respected name in finance, and for our name to be synonymous with financial wellness.

For more information and for early access to Thrive, sign up on the Thrive website.