Kasai Guthrie got the idea for Neggster, a youth-focused banking app, at the age of 10. At the time, his family was struggling with poverty in Newark.
“I was trying to figure out ways to make money,” he said. Unfortunately, there were few money making options for 10 year olds. “The minimum age to work was 14 or 15, so I couldn’t find a job, but I had this idea for this app.” When he searched for something like it, he found that such an app didn’t exist.
The idea simmered until, as a Glasgow High School student, he participated in BPA (Business Professionals of America) and DECA entrepreneurial challenges with the idea, then called Learn, Earn, Save, Buy. He came in first in both, and went to nationals. He caught the attention of Ronni Cohen, executive director of the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute, who connected him with Capital One.
“Capital One loved the idea,” said Guthrie, now 22. “They gave me funding for research and development, but at that point there wasn’t a proof of concept so it was very difficult to get funding from investors. Global banking wasn’t really a big thing yet.”
They even set him up with an office at the University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship. He was in the 11th grade.
College came along, and he took a break from Neggster. He studied music and, in 2019, ran for mayor of Newark.
About three months ago, Guthrie decided it was time to get Neggster (the name is a play on “nest egg”) into the market — not least of all because the way fintech applications work with banking institutions has dramatically evolved, just in the last five years, he said. Now, the way banking apps are built, integration with a bank takes a couple of months, compared to a couple of years in the mid ’10s.
“This is the perfect time,” he said. “According to Forbes, the first $100 trillion company will be one that provides financial services to the ‘unbanked'” — that is, the millions of people globally, many of them poor, who lack access to traditional banks. In Europe, fintech banking apps, called “challenger banks” (as in, they challenge traditional banking), are already huge.
Apps like Neggster and its U.S. competitors Step, Current and Chime offer banking based entirely on a smartphone app, making banking accessible to youth in a way that traditional online banking isn’t — and indeed, traditional banks are embedded into these apps in the back end, adding a level of trust. Guthrie is looking at Galileo, Synapse and Delaware-based Bankcorp for the Neggster platform.
What Neggster offers, he said, is different from other Gen Z-focused fintech apps.
“We’re teaching young people delayed gratification,” he said. Simply put, the app helps users save money, then helps Zoomers decide whether they want to spend their savings when they meet a goal, or keep it and see their account continue to grow.
Making delayed gratification fun for young people is one of Neggster’s biggest selling points, Guthrie said; some of the features designed to achieve this still haven’t been made public.
Guthrie is currently working out of Wilmington’s WIN Factory — his mother, Tamara Varella, is a WIN Factory founder, as well as an Neggster advisor along with venture capital advisor Pedro Moore, 1313 Innovation founder and developer Paul McConnell and Neill Wright of Bronze Valley VC. Always community driven, he wants to see Neggster become as integral to Wilmington as MBNA was in the ’80s, with a focus on bringing jobs to people who already live in the city, including people in struggling communities.
“I’m Delaware focused all they way,” he said.
As a WIN Factory startup, Neggster collaborates with other companies in the accelerator, including Influencers Lab Media for digital marketing and innovative campaigns, Manifest Business Consultants for strategy, systems and revenue streams, and Pynk Print for graphics and web design.
Guthrie hopes to have Neggster launched by June. In the meantime, you can join the waiting list for the app.-30-
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