Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Why

As part of 1871’WiSTEM program, each week founder's  have a session fondly referred to as “RockStar Roundtable” in which founders and CEOs of startups come to share their journeys in the start up world. It’s easily become a session favorite for all of the women participating in the cohort. It allows us an opportunity to get a glimpse into the daily lives and grinds of those that have come before us, for those looking in from the outside at those that have “made it.”  It’s an opportunity to hear of mistakes and achievements made, pivots, and daily doubts.

Hearing the real and often raw experiences behind a founder’s journey has stoked the fire in our bellies that motivates us to turn dreams and visions into the next big thing. To hear the similarities of what it takes to build successful companies and know that we are not alone in our struggles and doubts is incredibly powerful.  Success is certainly not born overnight rather often a result of a series of small, yet significant actions and moments that gain traction and attention from the outside world.  

The “Rockstars” have shared the highs and the lows, the seemingly endless days of doubts and worry that come from starting and running a business, the sleepless nights wondering how payroll will be met, or rebounding from a bad hire, and the joy and validation of receiving that first check. To say it’s helpful to hear common themes on the road to success is a huge understatement.  It’s the oxygen to our face mask. We are not alone.

In this latest roundtable, the rockstar wisely suggested that as entrepreneurs we continue to keep focused on the why of our business. It’s easy to get caught up in the what of our business which can lead to to detours that aren’t always recognized as such until it’s too late. This can result in bad decisions, time and money wasted and momentum lost. The “why” must be kept front and center.

At SpringFour, we are focused on the why- making certain consumers have better opportunities to pay their bills, build savings and financial resiliency. Every day, through the SpringFour platform, we help people save money, get caught up on bills, and live a more financially secure life. 

With SpringFour, a senior citizen can reduce her prescription costs from $600 to $300 a month allowing her a little more cushion to pay her other bills and a family who once spent over $100 a month on check cashing fees is now banking with a mainstream financial institution and can use that savings towards other household expenses.  

Each month, SpringFour is making over 100,000 referrals that result in savings just like these for thousands of families across the U.S.

It’s these stories of impact that provide us with the why of what we do and motivate our team to stay focused- curating additional resources, enhancing our technology and user experience, and reaching out to potential subscribers—because we believe that consumers need and deserve to be connected to local resources that can and will make a difference in their financial lives. It hasn’t been easy building a for profit company with a non-profit mission but we recognize that it can be a win win for our subscribers and their customers. And it’s the why that keeps us going.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

SpringFour Chosen For WiSTEM

Chicago-based technology incubator 1871 hosts WiSTEM, a unique program designed to cultivate success and opportunities for women in technology. The 12 companies and their founders began a sixteen-week curriculum in September. Twelve women led companies, including SpringFour make up the third cohort of WiSTEM, 1871’s “The fundamental goal of WiSTEM has always been to produce, support, and positively impact the lives of women entrepreneurs,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “WiSTEM has surpassed and continues to surpass these goals by cultivating an environment that balances business and community and fosters opportunities across a wide spectrum. We are excited to welcome this new cohort of women to WiSTEM and the 1871 community.”
A focus on fostering opportunity for women entrepreneurs in technology has been a key objective for 1871. As part of the WiSTEM effort, it is customary for 1871 to welcome women business leaders to share their stories with the entire community. United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, First Lady Diana Rauner, Springboard Ventures founder Kay Koplovitz, uBeam founder Meredith Perry, Vosges Haut-Chocolat founder Katrina Markoff, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), and Digital Citizen Fund co-founder and CEO Roya Mahboob have all recently visited 1871. 1871 has made it a point to connect with other women-led organizations such as Ms. Tech, Women Tech Founders and Lesbians Who Tech to create and host events centered around women entrepreneurs. Additionally, it was recently announced that 1871 would be the host location for Reboot Academy, an innovative organization that trains women for re-entry into the technology workforce.
“It has always been my mission to inspire and empower women entrepreneurs, “ says Vosges Haut-Chocolat founder Katrina Markoff. “The new cohort will undoubtedly help shape America’s culture, economy, and future at large.”
The members of the third WiSTEM class are:
Neurocern – Anitha Rao, MD, Co-Founder and CEO
Recordly – Anna Maikova,  Co-Founder, Yaryna Mykhyalyshyn, Co-Founder, Sintia Radu, Co-Founder
Wekaw – Angela Wang, Founder, and CEO
WeSolv – Stella Ashaolu, Founder, and CEO
ClassCrasher – Marylynne Schwartz, Founder + Ellena Berger, Co-Founder
TheSocReports – Carol Fowler, Co-Founder, and CEO
FetchFind – Jamie Migdal, Founder, and CEO
SpringFour, Rochelle Gorey, Co-Founder, and CEO
Taylored Wines – Rachel Portell, Founder, and CEO
Kaizen Health – Mindi Knebel, Founder, and CEO
VirtualKEY – Resha Shroff, Founder, and CSO
Olfactif – Tara Swords, Co-Founder, and CEO

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fixing Credit, Financial Issues Starts With the Right Coach

James Dunning, Transformance
Time and again we hear a familiar story: Tales of hard-working Americans who are overwhelmed by debt, have little or nothing in savings, and are on the verge of disaster when the next emergency strikes. The individuals and families are often stuck in a downward economic spiral due to poor decisions and unforeseen circumstances.

Recent studies support what we hear: More than 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in “liquid asset poverty” and 30 percent routinely use non-bank borrowing. That’s 140 million people who are struggling to keep up with rising costs and often borrowing against future income to make ends meet. Another frightening fact is that more than half of the U.S. population has sub-prime credit – which means they’re paying even more than they should in high interest rates.
Making more money isn’t necessarily the answer. A recent survey from GoBankingRates.com revealed that even individuals making six figures don’t have as much saved up as they should. Too many of us are spending more than we should or over-using our credit cards – regardless of how much we make.

At Transformance, we stress the need for consumers to better understand their credit scores, to gain knowledge in how credit and budgeting works, and learn basic steps to increasing their financial stability. We do this through one-on-one coaching sessions, workplace seminars, and tailored webinars. We also disseminate a lot of material – both online and in print – for free, so we can empower those in our community to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families. Transformance Navigators can also steer clients to local services we access through SpringFour.

But setting things right financially isn’t simply about finding the money you need to pay down mounting credit card debt or tucking a few extra dollars away for that inevitable “rainy day.” One of the things we’ve learned from the stories we’ve heard is that many situations are a result of poor financial behavior – behavioral habits that have been passed from previous generations, often creating a legacy of poverty or crises.

When individuals connect with our non-profit organization, we immediately schedule a coaching session and begin to look beyond just the immediate issues. Transformance clients and our certified coaches will:

·       Discuss life-changing events or triggers
·       Complete a detailed review of the client’s income, expenses, and bills
·       Review existing credit report and score, comparing past behavior and discussing tips for improvement
·       Discuss savings goals
·       Discuss debt reduction
·       Create a spending plan, reviewing options based on the client’s financial situation
·       Prioritize goals and finished with a Client Action Plan, detailing the next steps needed to make those goals a reality

Walking hand-in-hand with those who need help, our agency has seen a positive change in the lives of many. On average, Transformance raises credit scores by 61 points and lowers debt by $580 per month. We’ve helped our clients achieve this by creating relationships, meeting with them one on one (or online, if they prefer), and encouraging them to make lasting behavioral changes.
SOURCES: Assets and Opportunity Scorecard 2015; FINRA Investor Education Foundation National; Bloomberg.com


JAMES DUNNING is the digital marketing manager, creative director, and storyteller at Transformance. A former newspaper journalist, James has worked in communication roles with non-profit and education organizations for the past 15 years.

Transformance Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1974, and is a United Way Service Provider as well as a HUD-approved multistate housing counseling and education organization. The agency is formally accredited every four years by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Families (COA) to ensure compliance with top industry standards and best practices. The agency has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, with satellite offices in Arlington; Austin; Amarillo and Ardmore, Oklahoma.