Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Jacklyn Rome, the CEO of Onward. Let’s learn what’s happening at Onward and how Jacklyn is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Jacklyn, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Onward addressing?
Jacklyn: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Onward is on a mission to improve the lives of co-parents and create happier homes for the next generation. We help divorced and separated parents manage shared finances for their children more easily and reduce friction in communication.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Jacklyn: I saw my own parents get divorced at the age of 14. While they had an amicable divorce, money quickly became the primary cause of arguments, as it is for most people. Today, most co-parents have to text each other or email about money, which can easily cause arguments. I thought there was a huge opportunity to use technology to automate and eliminate these stressful conversations about money.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Jacklyn: We are working towards a more equitable world by removing the emotions and personal friction in communication about finances by automating it through our app. We also provide full transparency into who is spending what on the children with features such as receipt uploads and reports. That allows both co-parents to have the same information when it comes to making decisions about finances. We also help to empower women, who often have more child custody. They end up having to upfront the money for most expenses for their children. We help them to get paid back more quickly by enabling all communication to go through our app and reminding their co-parent about money owed.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make?
Jacklyn: We recently raised our Series A funding round, giving us nearly $10M in additional capital to help build innovative products for divorced parents. With this funding, we plan to launch unique financial products including connected cards and shared savings accounts that will enable co-parents to more seamlessly track expenses, get paid back by their co-parent, and save for milestones in their children's lives.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
In the fundraising process, there can be lots of mini failures - the majority of investors you speak to will end up passing on investing in your company for a variety of reasons. You have to go into it with thick skin, understand that it's not personal, and maintain a positive outlook, and high energy in the rest of the conversations. I learned resilience and perseverance through this process, which, ultimately, has led to three successful funding rounds for the company.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Jacklyn: Money is the number one cause of arguments for divorced parents and the second major cause of divorce. As a society, we tend to be very awkward in how we talk about money and our values around it. Our hope is to provide transparency and remove friction in these routine conversations about money in order to enable co-parents to live their best lives and create the brightest futures possible for their children.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Jacklyn—it’s been an honor!
Jacklyn is the CEO and Founder of Onward, a financial technology platform for the modern family. Her entire career has been dedicated to a passion for innovation through her various roles in startup consulting, venture capital, and launching new business lines at Uber and Blue Apron. (Nominated by Charlotte Michailidis of Parenthood Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 4th, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.