Yesterday, I was filling out an application for Zogo to join a program for new Fintech startups. I typed up all the typical stuff: a one-liner, an elevator pitch, the names of our founders and our current partners .

But one part made me sit back and think.

In one of the last questions, the application asked what Zogo had to offer – not just to the lives of our users or the businesses of our clients, but to other start-ups and the Fintech community as a whole. 

In other words: How are we different? What do we bring to the table? 

I had to do a little bit of research and a good bit of thinking to answer this question. I know Zogo has something unique — it’s why I came onboard in the first place — but up until now, I hadn’t really tried to put my finger on it.

So — how is Zogo different from other Fintech startups? Here’s what I came up with. 

  1. We’re young. Like, really young. Like, our CEO is a junior in college young. Like, after I write this post I have to go take an English exam young. We’re by no means the first group of college students with big ideas and a business concept, but when we talk about Gen Z, young millennials and other underbanked groups, we’re talking about our friends, classmates and colleagues. We see their shortcomings in finance know-how firsthand. As I’ve previously confessed, even I didn’t know the difference between a bank and a credit union when I interviewed for my job here. 
  2. We’re not just focused on clients, and we’re not just focused on customers. Zogo’s success depends on the success of our users and the success of the financial institutions we work to connect them with. That means we have to be thinking big-picture about the world of finance, all the time. We have to understand what personal finance looks like for teens and twenty-somethings, and we have to understand what drives the success of industry mainstays like banks and credit unions. 
  3. And of course, there’s the fact that our app has nearly 34,000 users and is growing every day. And the fact that our app is backed by world-renowned behavioral science research at Duke. And the fact that we actually pay our users to learn about personal finance. And the fact that we’ve won a couple awards.

But ultimately, one of the best things about Zogo is what we have in common with lots of people in the Fintech space: we want a more effective and equitable financial world. We want people to be empowered in their financial decisions. We want students to learn about interest rates and insurance deductibles the way they learn about mitochondria and Mesopotamia. We want financial institutions to feel truly connected to their members and customers. 

Maybe that’s a bit ambitious, and maybe that’s not very unique after all. But I think I can live with that.