Startups are disrupting every industry imaginable, with FinTech being a space that no one could disagree needs shaking up. Just yesterday, we reported on how Koho plans to “win Canada” from the big five banks. Today, Hardbacon, a Montreal-based financial literacy startup, announced that they are well on their way to changing how Canadians invest.
There is evidently strong support for the dissemination of this kind of advice: not only have Hardbacon exceeded their ongoing crowdfunding campaign by 500 percent, but they did so in large part thanks to a contribution of $14,000 from BMO Smartfolio.
“We would like our app to become everyone’s financial assistant.” – Julien Brault, Hardbacon CEO
“Hardbacon’s approach to learning is music to our ears,” said Silvio Stroescu, president of BMO InvestorLine. “We believe educated investors are empowered to make smarter decisions with their hard earned money. This promises to be a fun and engaging platform which will inspire even more millennials to invest smarter. We’re proud supporters of the campaign.”
Hardbacon CEO Julien Brault was, in fact, surprised by the support the company has received so far, but thinks it can be attributed to the course’s “yawn-free” guarantee.
“I promised supporters I would give them a refund if they found the course boring; for others, it’s as if we promised them chocolate-flavoured broccoli,” said Brault, a former business reporter.
Its course is selling at $60 during the campaign. After its official launch this coming July, the same course will be sold for $100.
BetaKit spoke with Julien Brault to get a bit more information about why the company decided to create a financial literacy course, and how he sees it changing the investment space.
What made you decide to leave your job reporting about business to launch a startup?
I loved being a journalist, but I was tired of being an observer. I saw all those business sectors being disrupted by technology, whether it’s travel, media, taxi, or education, and I always was wondering why finance was still dominated by dinosaurs’ technology. I wanted to bring the FinTech disruptions already happening in the US and UK to Canada.
Why a financial literacy course? Was this something you were thinking about from day one?
If you told me eight months ago I would be launching an online course about investment, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Since day one, the vision was to bring more transparency and clarity to the investment process, but I did not think initially that we would need to build an online course to do that.
It’s only after launching Hardbacon that I realized how little the average Canadian knows about the stock market or anything related to money, for that matter. I first thought about writing a book, but it’s actually our newsletter subscribers who told us they wanted an online course about investment. That’s why we are building one.
What’s in it for the folks pledging to your crowdfunding campaign?
Basically, our online course will be composed of many short videos totalling four hours of video content. The course will cover everything you need to know to regain control of your personal finance and invest money in the stock market yourself. Since we reached many stretch goals since launching the campaign, we’ll add four additional modules: investing in real estate, personal finance to the max, investing in natural resources, and advanced investing strategies.
Given that your product is digital, what’s stopping folks from simply learning about this content from other online sources?
Good question. People can learn everything we’ll teach in our course by searching the web and borrowing books from the library. But it will take them longer to get to the level we will bring them to through our course, and they’ll be bored by the content they’ll find. With our course, they know they won’t be bored. Thanks to our Yawn-Free Guarantee, if our students get bored during our course, they just have to email us and we will reimburse them in full.
Can you tell me more about the app you plan to release this summer?
Our investment app will be our core product. It’s a mobile app that will allow anyone to invest in the stock market themselves. Among other things, it will allow its users to track and analyze their portfolio and to copy model portfolios built by professionals.
What’s the longterm goal for Hardbacon? Do you plan to stay in the education space?
We would like our app to become everyone’s financial assistant. In the long run, our app will not only help people build a diversified portfolio that fits their beliefs, but also help them to put enough money aside to achieve their goals, and choose the most advantageous financial products and maximize their tax returns. Basically, we want to make personal finance so easy that no one is going to talk about it, and so transparent that no one will get ever get a bad deal because they did not shop around enough for their financial products.
Clearly a crowdfunding campaign is a one-time thing. What’s your revenue model? Do you plan to make it a subscription service or do you have something else in mind?
Once we release Not Another Boring Course About Investment, we will sell it for $100 instead of $60. However, the course will never be more than a side business for Hardbacon. Our revenue model is our app, which will cost between $5 and $15 to subscribe to, depending on the size of your investment.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.