Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make the world more equitable using financial technology. Today I’m super excited to speak with Fabien Lamaison, co-founder and CEO of bunny.money. Fabien and his team are working hard to make an impact on UN SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. Let’s see how he’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome, Fabien, it’s a pleasure to be with you today. I’m super curious to hear what challenges you’re addressing? Tell us about your work!
Fabien: Thanks so much for inviting me to speak with you, Spiffy! Did you know that it’s recommended that you have three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved? Many Americans don't have enough money in their savings account that they could use for emergency and unforeseen expenses—we recently saw that with the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, not many people realize that when you donate to a good cause, the nonprofit organization has to pay a lot of fees to get the money. This money could be better allocated towards their mission! A stunning $6 billion in fees (that's a lot!) are captured to channel individual donations online. The good news is that people want to save and donate more to better prepare for tomorrow and to support their loved ones and communities. We think we can help with that!
Spiffy: What motivated you to want to help with saving and donating money?
Fabien: When I was a kid, I loved using my piggy bank to save money, but I also used it to give to charity. I remember having conflicting thoughts about it though: Was it appropriate to use my parents’ pocket money to do so? How much should I give versus save? Growing up, I came up with the idea of a digital piggy bank that would facilitate giving in a financially healthy and sustainable way. And what is a better character than an agile and astute rabbit to help you to do so!? bunny.money was born. What keeps me doing it? Every time I meet a new nonprofit organization I'm amazed at how much positive impact they have on the people and the planet. We can all play a role to support them. Some people give time, some people give money, some do both.
Spiffy: I see! So you are helping to optimize the impact of people’s money and the nonprofit organizations that receive that money? How else are is bunny.money helping to create a more equitable world?
Fabien: Our vision is to empower people to save—and also do good. Our mobile app has a unique built-in nonprofit marketplace to help you support your community—without any fees! We suggest that a percentage of the money that is set aside can be used for donation. You can donate to causes aligned with issues that concern you most, both globally and locally. You can also refer your own favorite nonprofit to bunny.money, and help them fundraise for free via our platform. We call it the save for good® approach. Save and donate...what you can! The most important thing is to start somewhere, even with small amounts. 1% makes a difference. Financial wellness and giving go hand-in-hand to make the world a better place to live in.
Spiffy: Have you achieved any significant milestones lately? What kind of impact do you anticipate?
Fabien: After more than two years in the making, we are excited to introduce our app to the world! We recently onboarded our nonprofit partners and we can't wait for them to engage with their communities of volunteers, donors, and people who care. This month we start accepting individuals from our waitlist. Also, we recently joined 1% for the Planet. Climate change is happening, and we all need to act quickly. That's why in addition to our nonprofit marketplace, and processing donations with zero fees, we wanted to go even further. As a member of the network, we directly donate 1% of our revenues to environmental causes. We want to help create a new social and economic fabric. It’s about People, Planet and Profit, and we can all adopt the save for good® approach!
(Photo credit: bunny.money and Florian Cordier)
Spiffy: I love it! It sounds like a win-win for everyone involved! I’m always curious to know how entrepreneurs handle failure. What about you, Fabien? Can you share about a time when you experienced failure and didn't give up? What did it teach you?
Fabien: Finance is a different world altogether. So believe me...bootstrapping a banking service app is no easy feat! :) It requires significant personal and financial investments. So it's not easy. And along the way, the team faced many obstacles, and discovered things we didn't know anything about! At times it can get scary, overwhelming, or discouraging. But that's where the power of being a team comes into play. We learned to rely on each other, and patience and resilience became key values to us. Keeping it fun is also important. Step by step we make it happen and tackle all these unknowns and challenges #strongertogether. In the end, what we love the most is that we actually learn something new every week, if not every day!
Spiffy: It sounds like you’ve overcome a lot! Have you learned anything new and interesting lately?
Fabien: If you watch hummingbirds long enough, you will see that they rest too!
Spiffy: Whoa, that's amazing. Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Fabien: We are immigrants, LGBTQ+, and our team is multicultural (we speak more than six languages, are in five different time zones). We have many more stories for your readers if they are interested.
Spiffy: Fabulous, Fabien! I can’t wait to check those out. I’m thrilled to see bunny.money launch out into the world. I wish you and your team all the best!
Fabien Lamaison is the founder and CEO of bunny.money. A native of France, Fabien moved to the United States 14 years ago to pursue his career in product management. Over the years he has conceptualized and scaled several market-leading platforms. Fabien stayed passionate about personal finance and ultimately gained core expertise in innovation and digital banking while working as a fintech and product strategist. In 2018, Fabien co-founded bunny.money, a Public Benefit Corporation with the long-term vision of making impact and time banking available to everyone. (Nominated by StartOut. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 13, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.