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On the Heels of its Acquisition Ferrari to Share the Social Money Story of Perseverance, Opportunity and Growth

January 11, 2016

“Well I’m guessing the sale will figure into the conversation,” quipped Michael Ferrari, Founder of Social Money and guest entrepreneur for the February session of Square One DSM’s Startup Stories. In December, Social Money was acquired by Q2 Holdings Inc. of Austin, Texas. The $10.6 million deal further positions Q2 in the direct-to-digital field while Ferrari and Social Money sees the acquisition as an opportunity to continue helping community banks and credit unions.

“But honestly there are so many things that have happened to this company over the past seven years, that I’m certain I will have plenty of stories to tell and experiences to share,” added Ferrari who, along with all of the staff of Social Money, were retained after the acquisition.  

A Greater Des Moines (DSM) Success Story

Although they often flew below the radar, Social Money is clearly one of the premier success stories of the local tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. Launched in 2008 as SmartyPig, an online piggy bank helping people save for specific goals such as weddings or vacations, Ferrari was soon to lead the company into a pivot, changing the focus of the company in response to recognized market opportunities of a much broader nature. Thus was born CoreSaver, a white label companion to SmartyPig that could be implemented by individual banks under their own unique brand.

Now more than three years since his last presentation before a Square One audience (then operating as the Business Innovation Zone) regarding that early pivot, Ferrari returns to provide an update on the evolving story.

 “Over the years we realized we had great value in what we had built, and that we could repurpose and resell that product to other companies to build their business on top of our platform,” explains Ferrari. “Basically we commercialized what we had built for ourselves into a product other people could now build on top of.”

The Evolution of SmartyPig

After 18 months of development CorePro was born, built on the back end of the SmartyPig foundation. This evolution of the original concept offers a complete banking solution allowing any business, regardless of their mission, to issue and manage FDIC-insured bank accounts, and allow customers to add and withdraw funds via automated clearing houses and access monthly statements, while generating 1099 tax statements that are then filed with the IRS on their behalf. All while continuing to manage the customer experience themselves.

Success for the product came quickly with such names as H&R Block and SallieMae headlining a host of subscribers, but the software-as-a-service also resonates with much smaller and more entrepreneurial businesses by allowing non-financial institutions to have all of the tools of financial institutions without the challenge of creating systems and partnering with banks themselves.

Alongside the success of CorePro, Social Money is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an attempt to further, through Social Money’s platform, the foundation’s mission of enhancing savings power of low-income individuals in India. “It is an enormous challenge toward which we are slowly but surely making progress. We believe the solution exists, but it is a matter of getting everybody onboard,” says Ferrari.

Sitting down with Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Square One DSM, for questions from both Colwell and the audience, Ferrari looks forward to sharing lessons learned. “While I fully expect questions about the sale, to my mind the bigger story is perseverance,” he says of something he expects to discuss, arguing that a company must be willing to both pivot away from its perceived core competency when necessary as well as remaining open to the possibilities of expanding opportunities in the marketplace.

“We started off as a B2C company and shifted to a B2B company,” he observes of another topic he can speak to. “That leads to a culture change within the company, and that was a challenge for some people as well.”

“There are so many pieces to the puzzle I’m not certain what we will talk about,” says Ferrari of possible discussion topics. What is certain is that a founder of one of the premier success stories of the Des Moines entrepreneurial community will come prepared to share his story.

Event Info

$15 admission fee (includes lunch) or free (if you don’t want lunch).
Networking and Lunch starts at 11: 30 a.m.
Presentation starts at Noon
February 17, 2016

Greater Des Moines Partnership
700 Locust St., Ste. 100
Conference Center (street level)

Contact us at info@squareoneDSM.com for more information.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.

Media inquiries should be directed to Mike Colwell at (515) 259-0389 or mike@squareoneDSM.com.

About Square One DSM

Square One DSM’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. Square One DSM helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization.