Updated: Oct 17, 2021
[00:00:00]Kriti: Hey guys, welcome to WhyFI Matters! It's been a few weeks, but I'm super excited to share with you another interesting story on the podcast.
Today's interview is founder of a startup-investing app for teens, Luke Moberly. Luke is a CEO at Bumper Investing and also attending Stanford University. Last year, however, he put on his entrepreneurial hat and this combined with his interest in technology and investing created Bumper. I am so excited to learn more about why investing at an early age is super important in how bumper helps the teen audience really understand the value and the power that their money has and their investing action time.
Also, I'm super excited to learn more about Luke's unexpected venture into entrepreneurship and his plans for the future. I hope you enjoyed the interview.
Hi, Luke. Thank you so much for coming on WhyFI Matters today. I'm super excited to have you on the show today and learn more about you, but also about your innovative FinTech app and website called Bumper. It's really amazing what you're doing. I love FinTech and obviously I am into investing and personal finance. I like how you kind of have created this app to bridge this gap between young people not being able to invest. So I think it's really innovative and, yeah, I'm just looking forward to getting to know you a little bit more. So thank you so much for coming.
[00:01:49]Luke: Yeah, thank you for having me here today. This is really exciting.
[00:01:53]Kriti: So I guess before we get started, can you tell me about also the listeners a little bit about yourself? What are you doing right now and in your life? Have you always wanted to do something entrepreneurial?
[00:02:06]Luke: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm from Lincoln, Nebraska. I'm currently a freshman at Stanford University for computer science. Growing up, I didn't want to be an entrepreneur. I didn't really look at business at all. Um, I was definitely more interested in, um, you know, traditional stem, so going into some sort of engineering role.
Um, and so. After I got into Stanford, I took a gap year. , I graduated during the spring of 2020. Um, and so I went out to a coding boot camp in London that really focused on coding, data science and machine learning skills. And so I was definitely more gravitating towards like a traditional computer science role or, you know, a mechanical at something in mechanical engineering.
But then I came across this program in Lincoln, Nebraska called Emotion, and it was this Incubator or accelerator. And applied just out of the blue, got in. And that's kind of where I've, you know, why I'm here today. So, definitely a little bit by chance but we're not looking at.
[00:02:57]Kriti: Why did you choose to do something around financial literacy? You could have done literally anything because the world had just so many different problems. But why financial literacy had this always been something that was on your mind? Or did you just see this as a really good space to get in?
[00:03:16]Luke: Yeah. So it had always been in the back of my mind. It wasn't really what I started with. So I went into the program thinking I build a performance analysis tool for like the equestrian market and then cheerleading. And I took a couple months to finally get to. Very very different from, you know, what I'm working on now.
Um, but yeah, it, it, it always been in the back of my mind. And then in January, February and March, there was a lot of news about Robin hood and on the AAMC and GameStop craziness, and then cryptocurrency as well. And that I really started to see an increase in interest among teenagers in investing. And so that's kind of where I'd always wanted to invest when I was younger.
And so it had really been in the back of my mind, but some of that news and that increase in interest really helped draw me towards the field. Yeah.
[00:04:00]Kriti: And you talked about how you really wanted to and have this interest, but it's really hard for young people to invest. Obviously you have Robinhood by thing. You have to be like 18 to do anything with the app. But yeah, I invest, um, quote unquote, but like, it's through an app called stockpile, which I don't know if you're familiar with. But , my dad has an account and I like invest through him or something. It's okay. But I think they, we have to take bigger strides. So why do you think there was such a big shift and the younger population towards investing. Obviously a lot of articles say it's just a phase. People were bored during COVID and quarantine. But do you really think that young people see the power of investing? And if, if they don't, can you tell us what the power of investing is?
[00:04:59]Luke: Yeah. So I, I do think, that young people understand or are beginning to understand the power of investing. I think there was a lot of pent up frustration, even if it was under the service with traditional school systems, not really teaching our generation about investing. I know in my personal finances class, I had about eight weeks of personal finance and they didn't touch investing at all. We learned how to balance a checkbook and I am never going to balance a checkbook in my life. I don't think I will be investing though. And so it's just a lot of traditional schooling. Um, doesn't teach us even the basics about the stock market or investing.
And so we're in COVID when traditional schooling was kind of all third and people had extra time. Um, and there was all that craziness with AMC and game stuff. I definitely think that kind of brought to the surface, a lot of those underlying frustration. So I personally don't believe it's a fad. It will be spikes and interests over time, but I do think that young people are becoming a lot more aware of the importance of investing
[00:05:54]Kriti: For sure. I totally agree with you. In my school, there's a finance club and everybody wants to do it now. Like people realize how much, how starting young will also really, really help you when you're older. So why did you choose to do FinTech?
I love FinTech by the way. Like, um, I don't know if you're familiar with STEP, but, um, right. Yeah. I feel like your business model is similar, but obviously that's like banking. I'm not necessarily investing. I think FinTech is amazing because it's definitely helping Financial inclusion, especially in countries that are still developing. And there's a lot of areas there that people are underbanked, even in the U S there's such a big under-banked population. But obviously that is an aspect of financial inclusion, not having access to a bank account, but this is another aspect of financial inclusion, which is not having the ability to invest. So why do you think technology is the way to solve this whole problem?
[00:07:01]Luke: Yeah. So I, I think you're completely right. I mean, you brought up, STEP thinking and they've done an incredible job at helping teenagers learn the basics of what a credit score is, what, a checking and a savings account is at the bank.
And a lot of these, new FinTech companies, especially those built for teenagers, um, are really helping the next generation become more financially literate. And so we are focused on a different piece of the pie. I mean, having a checking or savings account is great. But investing, just as an important , and really building out your financial future and preparing for the next 60, 70, 80 years of your life.
And that's kind of what drew me is the, um, I guess the interest in finance, and really the power of starting young. Investing even in it fits into a basic index fund or, a couple of companies you really care about at a young age. The power of compound interest really, really help you, um, in your later years.
And so that's what personally drew me to finance and specifically investing. And I think that's what strong a lot of teenagers as well.
[00:07:57]Kriti: So, can you explain to us what Bumper's whole mission is? And also what is the business model?
[00:08:06]Luke: Yeah. Great question.
So really the mission of bumper is to help teenagers come. Uh, we're financially strong adults, um, and really provide a basic understanding through learning by doing of the stock market and investing. So, you can learn about investing. You can read thousands of articles and hundreds of textbooks, but you're really not going to learn about investing until you do it and get your hands dirty. And you're going to make mistakes. You'll lose some money, most likely, but unless you just jump in, you'll really never going to understand the power of investing or take advantage of it. And so, Bumper seeks to help teenagers have that experience and really, you know, begin to get their hands dirty with investing.
So right now we're really focused. We partnered with a brokerage firm called Alpaca Securities, and we're working with them to offer the live investing services. So, the investing accounts offered through Bumper, by Alpaca are insured by the SITC, up to half a million dollars.
Well, in case something happens to the brokerage firm, then your account is insured. And so, right now we're really working with them to just build up a large amount of teenagers who are interested in investing were being funded by venture capital investors. So we're not looking to make a profit at this moment. In terms of the long-term business model, uh, we're looking to partner with credit unions and regional banks, and really help them tailor their products to the teenage demographic. A lot of these traditional. Um, aren't built for teenagers and are really struggling, um, in reaching this demographic. And so we're, we're working with them, um, to kind of tailor their products to this, this new generation.
[00:09:35]Kriti: That's really, really interesting. How would you say bumper is different than some of the other investing apps out there like I said, stockpile?
[00:09:44]Luke: Yeah. Great question. So there's really, kind of a twofold approach we're working long. So one is just basic education. So through short little bites and of integrated throughout the trading flow, you can learn, what happens when you invest in apple or, you know, what this number means?
Like, what does earnings per share mean? Like how does that apply to you as a young investor? And so, I mean, we even found that, you know, when asked why. What does investing what happens with like when you buy a share? Most teenagers don't know the answer. And it's, you know, more or less it's simply that you're buying like a slice of ownership in the company, but even at like basic piece of knowledge, really isn't being taught or isn't understood.
Yeah. Yeah. And so really, making some of those basic understandings, more accessible and interesting through short little bites of content space throughout the app. And then the second one, we're working on developing a fully sandbox paper trading environment that walks, you know, especially new young investors step-by-step through the process.
So even like, going to a single stock page. You press by you type in a number and really walking you through the entire process, kind of holding your hand at first. We're looking to offer that, uh, to help new investors kind of understand the process, um, or understand what is an investing accountant and how is it different than a checking account?
So it's, it's a long-winded answer where we definitely haven't found the necessarily correct or best way to do things, but we're constantly experimenting to find what that looks like.
[00:11:04]Kriti: Yeah, that's really interesting. I do think that if you have the part where you can walk through, um, if you walk through with the teen, that would be really helpful and I think set you apart from some of the other investing apps for teen top there.
But I did have a question you're so you're on the other end of this. You obviously. Um, see what the customers are doing. And, I was wondering how parents are reacting to your app because obviously money is in many households, something that is a very taboo, stigmatized subject.
And how are parents reacting to having their kids taking agency over, money and making their own financial decisions?
[00:11:49]Luke: Yeah, that's, that's a fantastic question. So we've seen it. I mean, especially with the attention on GameStop and AMC and especially the newer cryptocurrencies, parents are very, very worried, um, that their child will not be financially prepared in the future.
Um, and you know, as soon as they turn 18 and go off to college where they just download rather than. And gamble away, thousands of dollars on some random cryptocurrency they found. And so there's this real, like palpate fear among parents, um, that they aren't preparing their child. And so we have seen, even though money has traditionally been a taboo subject that more and more parents are looking to help their teens to learn those basics of finance and investing.
And so, the goal of Bumper is to help provide a secure environment where parents feel have peace of mind and feel safe, budding their child begin to experiment. And, you know, not just taking away all of the guard rails at once, but really, you know, starting in the shallow end.
And so we we've seen an incredibly positive reaction from parents.
[00:12:43]Kriti: That's amazing. Um, yeah, I'm happy that money is becoming more open and transparent in households, but also you have this other added risk where children not really understanding the value of it necessarily, but I think it's important for us to have like, you know, shallow end, and then gradually progress..
So I'm into like socially responsible investing, you know, investing in companies that align with your values or investing in companies that are doing good things in the world, not necessarily the big brand names like Apple and Facebook. Does bumper do anything to kind of ensure or promote socially responsible investing? Or is that something you're gonna start looking into?
[00:13:32]Luke: Yeah. So you're completely right. That a lot of the times it's very easy to gravitate towards apple and Chipotle Netflix and all of these big names. One that's because they are big names, but two it's often in the way the app is laid out. So you go to the search bar and they're right there. And so we've taken a slightly different approach where we've broken the list of securities we offer, which are primarily blue chip stocks and like total market ETS and index funds. And we broken it down into categories. So we have popular stocks, we have stocks focused on energy, shopping, communications, but then also specific subsets focused on socially responsible areas of investing, so companies that have very strong environmental climate initiatives or racial justice initiatives.
And then also spotlight of have companies that have recently implemented new policies or are doing big things, um, in the areas of climate or racial justice. And so, um, there's a long way to go with socially responsible investing, but that's where we're starting.
[00:14:27]Kriti: I love that aspect of Bumper and I think it will go a long way.
So you're obviously in this investing space. Do you kind of see the future of investing? Do you think adults are gonna also start pushing, investing and democratizing it to get young people started as well?
[00:14:48]Luke: Yeah. So I definitely see over the next couple of years, there will be this continued push, which I think was started by Robinhood to democratize investing and make it more accessible to young people and even teenagers. And so I definitely see that continuing over the next couple of years. I do see eventually they'll, we'll hit some point and kind of start to drift back to this idea of more smart and responsible investing and begin to move away from, you know, a lot of the gambling aspects of that's. Um, especially with regulatory action, um, you know, in lawsuits against Robin hood and whatnot. And so, that's kind of where I see the future of investing going. I think a lot more people have access to it, but I also think it's important to really focus on smart investing and understand, you know, both the pros, but also the risks of putting your money into stuff.
[00:15:35]Kriti: I want to talk a little bit more about entrepreneurship in general. Obviously you're very much into computer science but you ventured into the business world. So can you just talk more about how these two aspects of your identity compliment each other?
[00:15:52]Luke: Yeah. So that's a great question. Most technology companies, especially technology startups, um, one of the founders needs to have an understanding of the product. You do all the market research you want, you can find. Um, and come up with this perfect idea of the perfect product for the perfect audience. But if you don't build that product in a way that the audience loves, then it's not going to go anywhere. And so you need some sort of product offering, and that's really where, you know, programming, computer science is so important for technology companies or apps. And so they're, they're definitely complimentary and it's helped me design and build a product that teenagers want to use, um, and teenagers get excited about.
[00:16:30]Kriti: And so just to clarify, so you built the app, like from the ground up, like you yourself.
[00:16:37]Luke: So I worked with a team of freelancers in Nebraska as well, but yeah, together we built the app in about three and a half months or so.
[00:16:44]Kriti: Wow. That's, that's really amazing. And so for me personally, it's funny. Cause the last two episodes I did, the one was one was on socially responsible investing. The other was on like computer science. Cause he is a young entrepreneur. It's really funny because this is an amalgamation of the two last episodes I did.
So how I personally, um, I don't, I'm not really interested in computer science, but I know how important it is. So how do you, like what do you suggest for like me to get into this space? Because obviously I really am interested in entrepreneurship. I feel like I need to have this other skillset. So what are some ways for me to start getting into it?.
[00:17:31]Luke: Yeah. So, I mean, you definitely don't need a computer science skill set. I mean, there are, again, you can build the greatest product in the world. So, computer science nerds can build an amazing app, but if you don't know how to market it effectively or right in front of your users, there's no point like the product will fail. The product is important, you need to get customers. And so you definitely don't need computer science skills to go into entrepreneurship or business. Um, I do think it helps. And so, even just having a basic understanding of, you know, how an app is built, not necessarily even being able to do it yourself, but just kind of understanding what the main pieces are and how they fit together, um, is pretty important.
So I spent a couple of months over quarantine, just watching YouTube videos from like free code camp. That just provided a basic understanding. I have enough knowledge where I could kind of begin to piece together certain things. And so you don't need to be, the best computer scientist and your states in the U S to develop a great product or go into entrepreneurship. But yeah, I mean, it's, it's definitely helpful at times.
[00:18:28]Kriti: So, obviously I think when I think of. The biggest businesses like Microsoft and Apple, you do have a dynamic duo of sorts. You have Jobs and Wosniak and Bill Gates and Paul Allen. So, do you ever see yourself, because you possess the two traits of both of these, of being able to be the face of a brand, but also the technical aspects. Do you ever think you're going to, need to start a business model similar to them or do you think you would just do mostly everything by yourself?
[00:19:08]Luke: Central. Yeah. That's um, so I, I definitely, uh, you know, if I started another company after Bumper, I definitely don't think I would want to do it by myself.
Again, it kind of just happened given the nature of the program bumper started in and where it's gone. And so I, I mean, definitely. Having a duo and a strong partner who has complimentary skill sets, really, I guess I think can accelerate the growth of the business. So I don't know which side I'm going to fall on in the future. Really enjoy products, but, I don't know if I want to code every day, all day. And so I have a couple of years to kind of explore and figure that out, but I definitely think, that's, it's an incredibly important piece of building a company.
[00:19:49]Kriti: Um, and so what would be your advice to aspiring teen entrepreneurs?
[00:19:56]Luke: Yeah. So definitely just, you know, jump in the deep end a little, get your hands dirty and just, I guess, start something. So, um, you know, it's kind of the stereotypical advice, but, um, you're helping retirees with technology help or starting a mini consulting business where you have. Local companies, uh, cater to teenagers and market to teenagers at high school.
And so, you know, some of these small businesses, uh, can teach so many valuable lessons and it's something I wish I did during high school to be a little bit more prepared for running a company. Um, but I mean, really learning by doing is the best form of learning, um, in my opinion. So yeah, definitely just, just get started somehow and you'll really learn as you go.
[00:20:35]Kriti: Yeah. Just like get right into. There shouldn't be anything holding you back, especially cause you don't have much to lose as a teenager, most teenagers have that privilege.
Um, but yeah. What are your plans for the future? Obviously, you're in a really amazing place at Stanford in the the CompSci track they're majoring in that. But yeah. Where do you kind of see yourself going?
[00:21:02]Luke: Yes. I think something that's becoming increasingly important in my life is just having some flexibility in doing what I want to do, kind of when I want to do it. It's a lofty goal. so having some of that freedom and independence, but I mean, uh, really. Creating a company, um, at the right time when I want to, and a company that I really care about. So, maybe graduating, continuing with Bumper and then after Bumper taking some time to really think about what I want to do next, what company I want to build next.
And, having the freedom to wait until I have that lightning strike of inspiration and, um, you know, move forward. And so I don't have. I set goals on, where I want to be with accolades or whatnot. But I think having some of that flexibility to do what I want to do in the future is something that's really important to me.
And, and I think something that's very important to a lot of teenagers and a lot of our generation.
[00:21:53]Kriti: Our generation is all about like mobility, because we have the ability to do so many different things right now. How can we start helping bumper, you know get ready for the coming years.
[00:22:03]Luke: Yeah. Finance is so important to me and helping young people, um, become more financially strong is really important. And then in terms of getting bumper ready, I mean, we're about to publicly launch in a couple of weeks where I'm going through a couple last minute checks to make sure, your data is secure, it's private and it's a smooth launch process. And so I would definitely encourage anyone interested in investing early, as a teenager to check out the app, in the next couple of weeks. And, invite parents, tell your friends about it. Um, and really, you know, have those conversations with your friends about what do you want to invest in, and kind of why you are investing and what investing will let you do in the future, whether it's take more vacation retire earlier, whatnot.
So, I definitely think just get started, um, early on. I hope, you know, we at bumper can help you.
[00:22:46]Kriti: Thank you so much, Luke, for coming on the podcast today, I will have the links for bumper in the episode description. It was really amazing to get to know more like behind the scenes of how you started this really innovative app. And I'm really excited to see where it goes far in the future. So kudos for you for starting it! So yeah, thank you !
[00:23:08]Luke: Absolutely. Thanks so much. I appreciate it. Take care.
[00:23:11]Kriti: So that's the end of the interview and it was super fun. Getting to know Luke and I think some interesting themes or common themes that have actually been present throughout the past, like three episodes I've put out, have been the importance of socially responsible investing, and also how coding and having tech skills and tech background is actually just super duper helpful in the entrepreneurial industry, especially moving forward, make sure to give Bumper a look and sign up for their emailing list to stay updated. I have their website in the episode description and definitely check their Instagram out. Their app it's live as of October 16th, which is amazing. Also while you're on Instagram, definitely check out WhyFI Matters account. Bumpers handle is @JoinBumper and WhyFI Matters is @WhyFImatters. Thanks for listening. And I can't wait to talk to you next time.
Links to Bumper investing : https://www.joinbumper.com/