We caught up with Louise Hill, co-founder & COO of GoHenry to discuss their 10th anniversary and how the company has evolved.
Can you tell us about why and how you started GoHenry?
I co-founded GoHenry with two other parents in 2012 out of a personal need to help my own kids navigate the increasingly digital world of finance. Most kids leave school without any education on how to manage money. I wanted to give kids the chance to learn about the value of money, to experience independence and all the joy it brings, all in a safe family environment.
We were the first to market in this space, pioneering the category and now, I’m proud to say that we have over 2 million members across the UK and US, and more recently Europe, with our acquisition of French Fintech, Pixpay. Our key differentiator amongst others in the industry is our Money Missions which we launched in October last year. Money Missions are in-app, gamified money lessons covering a full curriculum in line with national education guidelines. As kids grow and complete missions, levels are unlocked and adjusted to their age, skills and confidence.
What were the early days like, what challenges did you come up against?
When we launched, we needed to do everything between us. This ranged from painting the office walls, through navigating the regulatory landscape, to finding seed investors and running the business. In essence, being a Jack-of-all-trades!
When you’re the new kid on the block and nobody has heard of you, you have to work hard to build a customer base that trusts you. Our biggest struggle was we were the first in the market to launch a pocket money app and card for young people. As with every new innovation, we needed to explain both what we were and why people needed us, as well as finding the right route to reach our potential customers. We tried local radio, family-based events, partnerships with schools, and of course digital marketing. In the early years, it was the combination of word of mouth and PR that helped us get the word out there.
You have been through several rounds of fundraising, can you tell us a little more about that journey?
Launching a business is often referred to as a rollercoaster ride, and it certainly is. Securing our initial seed funding of just over £650k was one of the first major milestones. This took almost two years and a lot of shoe leather to round up.
We also raised a record-breaking amount of money via Crowdcube because so many of our customers invested in us. To me, this shows we’re doing a lot right.
Today, GoHenry has raised $125m since its launch in 2012 and we have 5,000 shareholders – half of which are GoHenry customers.
What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge during your GoHenry journey?
It’s so hard to choose just one! The first customer (that wasn’t one of our testers) was a big milestone and a real “pinch me” moment. More recently, it was when we discovered that 1 in 5 kids aged 10-12 in the UK have a GoHenry card, which still feels surreal.
There was also definitely a moment about six years ago when growth at GoHenry really accelerated. We were hiring more and more people, and I was working flat out. This is when I realised that I had become a roadblock. Therefore, we spent a lot of time and effort in the following six months making sure that knowledge was disseminated around the business, that responsibilities were delegated and that whole teams knew where things were filed, or who from each supplier to speak to.
GoHenry has a big focus on Financial Education, can you tell us more about that?
Financial education for kids and teens is at the heart of everything we do – this isn’t an add-on product for us – it’s our sole purpose. This is why we have joined The Centre for Financial Capability (TCFC) to help lead the fight for financial education for all kids in the UK. TCFC believes that every child in the UK should be supported to develop the skills and behaviours necessary to navigate critical financial decisions in later life, starting at primary school.
In addition to this, I am also a Chair of MyBnk’s Financial Freedom Campaign, who are supporting kids to build their confidence with money. Having TCFC and MyBnk as a part of our GoHenry journey helps to continue the driving force of making every kid smart with money.
What lies ahead and what are GoHenry’s plans for the future?
We want to continue inspiring a lifetime of financial well-being for everyone. We all know that financial education is a good thing, but it needs to be prioritised further.
Conversations around financial education are starting to accelerate, and we want more businesses and organisations to share their time, resources, and knowledge to help support parents and teachers to improve the financial literacy – and future prospects – of the next generation. Financial literacy is increasingly on the agenda at schools and it’s improving every year but there is still a long way to go.