We caught up with Louise Hill, co-founder of gohenry, to talk all things from the importance of teaching young people financial literacy to navigating a business through the COVID pandemic…
Tell us about gohenry
gohenry is a fintech app that empowers young people to take part in the digital economy. Launched in the UK in 2012, gohenry is a prepaid Visa debit card and app with unique parent controls designed exclusively for 6-18-year-olds to help them learn good money habits in an increasingly cashless society.
The gohenry app gives young people the freedom to learn and take charge of their own spending and saving in a safe environment, while the app’s parent version allows parents to guide kids through the early stages of digital finance, including setting tasks to encourage the concept of earning.
gohenry is all about making learning the four pillars of good money management – earn, save, spend, and give – a fun and interactive experience. This includes letting children show off their independent style with a range of card designs that can be personalised in their name – e.g. ‘goalice or gosydney’.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I founded gohenry in 2012 with two others after realising that there was nothing in society that could help teach my own children about how to be good with money in the digital world.
According to a Cambridge University study, children’s financial habits are formed by the age of seven, with most young people forming core behaviours which they will take into adulthood and which will affect financial decisions they make during the rest of their lives.
Yet, with 60% of children still leaving school without any money management skills and parents not always having the confidence or tools to teach it from scratch themselves, there is a big financial literacy gap to fill.
I’m a firm believer in learning by doing and the idea for gohenry came about whilst watching my son play a school football match. I started talking with two dads about how my own children were racking up bills on iTunes without realising it was physical money they were spending and they shared the same problem. This is where our idea started; to create a service that would empower young people with the freedom and confidence to use and understand money in a safe environment.
On starting up gohenry, we created a new category and now have a global community of over one million customers who, like us, fiercely believe that being good with money is a vital life skill.
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How has your company fared during COVID-19?
COVID-19 propelled us further into a cashless society, where a digital payment became the only payment. This has led to a greater demand for cash-alternatives for kids. For young people to understand the value of money and how to manage it they need real life experience of the digital economy to encourage healthy spending choices in later life. Cash alone cannot provide this.
gohenry is a lean business with a firmly-established customer base, and we have the advantage of being in a strong financial position after record-breaking crowdfunding rounds with Crowdcube in the past two years. We have also been able to launch new products during lockdown – our Eco Card is one of them. It’s a prepaid Visa debit card made from field corn rather than fuel to help in the fight against plastic pollution and is already one of our most popular cards, adding strength to our offering.
Unsurprisingly, we have noticed a sharp fall in global shop and ATM transactions accompanied by an increase in online transactions since social restrictions came into place. We’ve also seen an increase in parents paying their kids… lockdown seems to have been a catalyst for some monetary incentives! It’s also been lovely to see that donations to our charity partner, NSPCC, increased by 22% during lockdown.
As a service designed to help kids manage money in a cashless society, we are well-positioned to help our young customers move away from cash to digital spend as Covid-19 accelerates a change in how we all interact with money.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
Starting a company is never easy. It takes a lot of trial and error, and unwavering confidence in the product. We knew our idea was strong, but the best advice I received was simply to believe that you can do it. There is no earthly reason why you can’t and if you believe it, you create that belief around yourself and others will believe it too.
What matters is that young girls and women see images of people like them doing it and succeeding – this is the best way to encourage female entrepreneurship and something that still inspires me today. Find support groups and ask people you admire to mentor you – not just women – men or women – that can be hugely helpful. It’s the new version of the “old boys’ network”.
What does the future hold for gohenry?
At the heart of our growth strategy has always been to build a product that people really want, enjoy using and tell their friends about, and that remains as true today as when we founded the business. We are constantly co-creating with our community of families to develop our service further and offer more value – coming up is a new teen account, additional educational content, and lots of ideas about how to help the whole family build money confidence to create a brighter future for their children.