A Startup That’s Teaching Kids About the Importance of Money

Goalsetter is a goal-based savings and gifting platform for families.

“Savings accounts in kids’ names can literally be the catalyst to change their lives, and transform their outcomes. excess instead of teaching them that money is really important.” — Tanya Van Court

Let’s say your kid wants to save up for something special, like a computer, college education, summer camp, or a new bike. Goalsetter is the perfect tool to do this. It is a platform to help kids and families save for things while also developing financial habits that’ll last a lifetime. All they have to do is set up a goal and once it is reached the money becomes available. It’s that simple, and fun too.

Chestnut Street Ventures heard about Goalsetter from Colleen Taylor, an Investment Committee member at the fund for Penn alums and also a board member at Goalsetter. We sat down with Tanya Van Court, CEO and Founder of Goalsetter, to ask her about her role at the company, her ‘ah-ha’ moment, and what three things she has learned along the way.

What sparked your entrepreneurial drive?

I wanted to transform money spent on meaningless goods into money saved for meaningful goals. Savings accounts in kids’ names can literally be the catalyst to change their lives, and transform their outcomes.

I have the belief that I can get kids from different walks of life to become savers at an early age. And if I do that, those kids will be six times more likely to go to college, and four times more likely to own stocks when they are young adults.

How did you think of Goalsetter?

It was from my daughter, Gabrielle. When she was 8 years old, she told me that the only two things that she wanted for her birthday were enough money to save for an investment account and a bike. I knew that she would probably receive $400 worth of toys and other “stuff” that she didn’t want, need, or use instead of money that she could put towards her goals. That’s when I realized that we are teaching our kids about consumerism and excess instead of teaching them that money is really important — important for your present goals, for your future, and for helping those who need it the most.

What sets Goalsetter apart?

There are no competitors out there that bring together goal-based savings and gifting into a single platform designed specifically for kids and families. They have different savings and gifting behaviors than other demographics, and exciting kids about saving is something that makes us excited!

Since I formerly led digital products at Nickelodeon, that fun-meets-education DNA makes our company uniquely focused on bringing enjoyment and engagement to the world of finance; two worlds that typically don’t co-exist.

What upcoming features are you looking forward to rolling out?

While we already have an awesome mobile site, we are looking forward to our app that we’re launching soon. The app will enable a kid to carry their savings account in their pocket, and get noticed every time they receive more money towards their goals. It will also let kids earn allowance money that they can save towards their own goals with fun rules like “entrepreneur in the making” and “learn to earn.” It’s awesome to bring together every way that kids can save money — via allowance, gifts, or a little help from their parents — and turn that into an app that gets them motivated to save for things that really matter in their lives.

What are three important lessons that you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey?

  1. Ask for help. As a former executive, I was accustomed to being the person who supported others. So it was difficult for me to be in a position where I constantly felt like I was asking for support, guidance, contacts, or knowledge. But you just won’t be successful if you don’t learn to do so. And the beauty of it is that once you ask for help and learn a few of the ropes, you can once again help others
  2. Surround yourself with good people. Your company is only as good as your team and your network. The right people will literally determine not only your success or failure, but your happiness along the journey.
  3. Treat every dollar like it’s your last. Developing a mindset of frugality early on will sustain you during the lean times. Because for 99% of us, there are definitely lean times.

Any resources that you’d recommend for others?

How I Built This is a great podcast. I love hearing how iconic brands started from, well, nowhere.

Personally, Carla Harris at Morgan Stanley has been a great resource for me. She is one of our advisors and heads up the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator that we are currently in. She is the most profound thinker and inspirational leader whom I have ever met.

Chestnut Street Ventures is a network of Penn alums investing in Penn-connected businesses. Click here if you’d like to learn more about venture investing with Chestnut Street.

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