He joined forces with Jan Hier-King, who ran technology and operations for Charles Schwab, and made his way to Bethesda, where he set up Bicycle Financial.
“We strive to radically simplify personal finance. We’re focused on the large portion of the population that doesn’t like to manage their financial life and has less than $250,000 in liquid assets. We package financial education and recommendations for people to make it easy for them. We eliminate all the noise and provide a solution for people who say: ‘Just tell me what I need to do.’ That’s why we started this business.
“Each Bicycle Financial Kit is based on an individual’s stage in life. We’re literally picking and packing insights and curating an experience that feels very personalized.
“We ask users a series of questions about where they are in life, their financial goals, and their current debt and savings levels. Then we match them up with one of our kits to get them started – for example, our ‘Babies & Bills’ kit for people with children in their late 20s to early 30s, or the ‘Second Life’ kit for retirees. The kit provides actionable advice on how they can meet their financial goals — for example, investing in money market accounts, retirement, college savings accounts, etc. Our kits also include educational content, such as articles on the costs of raising children or how much money you’ll really need in retirement.
“Our go-to-market strategy is to work with large employers that can offer our service as a benefit to employees. Our centralized dashboard can be a place where employees can interact with their financial benefits offered by the employer. Employers are increasingly concerned about the financial well being of employees and participation in financial benefits programs is often not as high as it should be. For employees, our prescriptive advice can take into account an individual’s goals and encourage them to participate in employer benefits that may be helpful to them or their family.
“Right now, we’re testing our product. We’re creating content and tools with a goal to pilot our product in the fall. As we gear up to market our product, we’re grappling with this challenge: How do you take something that is inherently not a draw — becoming savvier financially — and increase the appeal to get people willing to take the steps they need to? The topic of money is loaded with emotional baggage. Frankly, people will share more about their sex life than their financial life. How do you take a field like that and put people at ease enough to take the steps they need to? It’s a big marketing question. We can get a corporate benefits department interested, but when you’re doing a business-to-business sale that then requires employee participation, we need employees to avail themselves of this service. The more creative the advice, the better.”
Liz Sara, entrepreneur-in-residence, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
“First, remember that selling into the business market is very, very different from selling directly to consumers. Business buyers look for solutions to specific problems. Budgets get allocated to fix the big, important problems first, then on down the line. At the end of the day, corporations have to return value to the shareholders. So purchase decisions get made based on the perceived value that a product or service will bring to the company. Will it add efficiency to a business process or automate a labor intensive process? Will it reduce costs or increase worker productivity? Is the product or solution a ‘nice to have,’ or a ‘must have’ for that business entity? The more compelling the value proposition is to that business buyer, the more success a vendor will have in getting the order, every time.
“In this case, I would take a step back and try to understand what problem your financial product solves for the corporate benefits department because that is your target. It is easy to see why an employee may find value in the kit for his or her family to help make better or smarter or more timely financial investment decisions, but how does that actually impact the benefits department? Do these departments care about whether their employees are making savvy financial investment decisions? Why or why not? Finally, is this really a benefits department problem, or an employee (and therefore, a consumer) problem? Unless the value of this product gets directly translated to how it addresses a pain point that benefits directors face, no marketing campaign is going to be very successful at getting their attention — or their purchase orders.”
“We’ve spoken with heads of human resources and benefits at a broad range of employers. Each tends to have their own reason for being interested in their employees’ financial well-being, but they tend to revolve around three main pain-points.
“The first is employee productivity and focus. The second common pain-point is benefits awareness. The third relates to culture.
“Whether they like it or not, employers increasingly understand that they play a role in their employees’ personal financial health. Our ability to provide employers with a simple, cost-effective and scalable solution will help them manage that important responsibility.”