I enjoy talking talking to and learning from entrepreneurs especially those who are using technology to bring positive change to society. Brendan is one such entrepreneur, and he is on a mission to solve the debt crisis that is plaguing American households through his startup ForwardFunded.com.
Listen to my interview with Brendan Snow here.
AMERICA’S CONSUMER DEBT CRISIS
Nearly 70% of what the United States produces is for personal consumption. In 2014,that was $11.929 trillion of the the total $17.418 trillion produced in the U.S
The national savings rate has declined significantly since the mid-1960s. it hit -2% of the GDP before the financial crisis of 2009 fueled by easy credit and reckless lending. Today the U.S personal savings rate is 4.9% compared to 38% in China, followed by 34% in India, 14.3% in Switzerland and 11.7% in Germany.
Average US household credit card debt stands at $15,706, counting only those households that are carrying debt. In total, American consumers owe $11.85 trillion in debt of which credit card debt is the third largest source of household indebtedness at $890.9 billion. It is clear that we have to change the way we spend, but few of us are taking action. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Brendan Snow.
WHO IS BRENDAN SNOW AND WHAT IS “FORWARDFUNDED.COM” ?
Brendan Snow is an entrepreneur based in Washington D.C. He studied politics at University of Colorado in Boulder. He wanted to experience the realities of a developing country and understand the issues faced by the population there so, he moved to the Republic of Congo and taught English for a while. Later he completed his master’s degree in public affairs from Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris/Sciences Po in Paris, where he met his wife. He came back to the U.S and worked for the World Bank. While he was working there he discovered Warren Buffet and value investing. He had always aspired to start his own business and hopefully have a positive impact on society. He started working on the idea of Forward Funded while he was working as a consultant at the World Bank
Forward Funded :
Forward Funded is an e-commerce company that makes saving for large purchases simple and intuitive. As a virtual saving system (a.k.a. virtual envelope),it allows users to create, modify, cancel, pause, and monitor savings plans to purchase a particular item or group of items. This system offers a financially responsible alternative to high-interest credit for individuals considering purchases.
The Forward Funded process begins when an individual wants to buy any item for example a television, but the cost falls outside their budget. As a result, they decide to set up a Forward Funded account and save the money needed to buy the television.
Users have control of their funds at all times. They can cancel their savings plans and get a full refund, pause and resume plans without emptying the “virtual envelope”, change their plans, transfer funds between plans, or switch to other products at any time at no cost. Initially, Forward Funded is only available for movable goods such as electronics, furniture, jewelry, and many similar items. Over time, they plan to add features based on user feedback.
WHAT IS FORWARD FUNDED BUSINESS MODEL ?
Forward Funded does not charge fees to use the service. Instead, they earn commissions on sales from vendor partners, enabling them to offer the service at no charge. Prices for goods in the e-commerce store are set by vendors, not Forward Funded. They have registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a Money Service Business and are currently able to do business in South Carolina, New Mexico, Montana, and Massachusetts.
I explore the business model of Forward Funded in my interview with Brendan Snow. We discuss their unique selling point (i.e. USP), competitors and why he thinks Forward Funded will help change the spending habits of its users.
BRENDAN ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Brendan is a voracious reader, and as an entrepreneur, he has benefited greatly from reading about business, entrepreneurship and the economy. He counts his friends and family, especially his wife, as great sources of support during the ups and downs of his journey as an entrepreneur.
Brendan’s message to aspiring entrepreneurs :
“ If you really believe that you have some way to add value to the society then you have an obligation to try”
Listen to the interview to learn more about Brendan’s journey as an entrepreneur , some of the mistakes he made and what he learned from them.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Brendan’s reading recommendations :
- Essays of Paul Graham – Paul Graham
- Zero to One – Peter Thiel
- Linkedin’s series B pitch deck – Reid Hoffman
Brendan’s favorite entrepreneurs and businessmen :
- Elon Musk - Entrepreneur and co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
- Paul Graham - Entrepreneur and co-founder of Y-Combinator
- Reid Hoffman - Entrepreneur and founder of Linkedin
- Warren Buffett - Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
- Charlie Munger - Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway
The Minimalists : Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana. Their website www.theminimalists.com
Talk by Joshua and Ryan at Ted Whitefish 2014
HOW TO CONTACT BRENDAN
Brendan’s Linkedin profile : Brendan@Linkedin
email : firstname.lastname@example.org