Allowances, Rocketships and Yellow Jackets

Why We Invested in Greenlight

As North American spending continues to go paperless, parents carry and use substantially less cash in their day-to-day life. In 2014, Tim Sheehan and Johnson Cook started Greenlight to solve a problem they each faced — being able to give their children spending money when they didn’t have any on hand.

Meet Greenlight, a smart debit card for families managed 100% through an app. Through its subscription-based platform, kids can use the Greenlight app to monitor their balances and set saving goals, while parents can send their children funds, set flexible controls and receive real-time notifications that provide insight into their children’s spending.

We first met Tim and Johnson in the spring of 2017 at ATDC in the heart of Georgia Tech’s campus. Since then, Greenlight has transformed its initial 10,000 families into a highly engaged network of 3 million users who have collectively saved more than $120 million and are eager to develop their financial independence through Greenlight’s products. Sheehan believes the pandemic has made people realize the importance of saving, having said “That probably caused our message to resonate extra hard among the American public.”

With the company’s newest subscription model, Greenlight Max, children and parents have access to a kid-friendly trading platform where parents can supervise their kids as they trade real-life stocks and learn about capital gains and losses — a priceless financial lesson that school curriculums often fail to teach.

In 2019, a test commissioned by the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) found that majority of teens lack the basic knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions, scoring a D minus on average. Driven by their mission of financial literacy, Greenlight hopes to fill this education gap by helping families engage in productive financial conversations through their comprehensive content library and in-app spending, saving and investing tools.

Having led Greenlight’s seed round, we’ve seen the hard work first-hand and are proud to be a part of the company and team that Tim and Johnson have built. With the support of Relay Partner and board member, Alex Baker, the company has continued to accelerate its financing momentum and recently won Best Financial Literacy Tool at the 2020 Global Fintech Awards.

The company’s US$260MM Series D funding is the latest of several milestones to help families with their finances and we’re excited to welcome new investors Andreessen Horowitz, Wellington Management and Owl Ventures to the team. We think it’s safe to say the entrepreneurial duo is pretty good at catching green lights and we’re eager to see how far they’ll go.

Relay Ventures is an early stage VC fund based in Toronto and Calgary.