After visiting Africa in 1995 and being introduced to microfinance while working for the nation’s largest credit card portfolio at what is now U.S. Bank, Susan Sorensen Langer thought of microgiving, the concept behind her financial-technology startup, Live.Give.Save.
She kept coming back to the idea over the years, and as technology evolved, Langer felt she could do something with it. In 2015 she founded Live.Give.Save., an app that connects to your bank accounts and allows for customized charity giving and saving for future plans.
“Overall, people think giving to charity is good, but around 45 percent never do,” Langer said. By linking to bank accounts, the three-step payment process allows consumers to pick from 1.5 million nonprofits worldwide and apply a certain percentage of their spending to one or more groups of their choosing.
Langer also specified that giving to charity is not a requirement for users. “Why not ‘tip yourself’ just like you do to waiters and baristas?” Langer said, explaining that the app also allows users to allocate percentages of their spending to savings accounts.
People are still overwhelmingly spending and not saving, Langer said of consumer trends, so this way they can do both. She coined the term “spaving” – saving while spending.
“The idea is an effortless and realistic way to use existing behaviors to transform futures.”
Live.Give.Save. is a beta right now, meaning only certain people are testing it out so that Langer, her chief architect, and her CFO can figure out what’s working and what’s not. The rollout to the public will be in late June, Langer said, on the iOS operating system.
Currently, Langer is participating in the Queen City Fintech accelerator in Charlotte, North Carolina for 12 weeks. Participating startups receive $20,000 in capital, as well as connections to mentors and potential investors. Sponsors within the banking industry will be looking for tech startups to invest in, making connections for these new companies, and providing funding for some.
Langer mentioned that she was the only woman at the entire conference, and perhaps the oldest too. “I’m a 54-year-old developing an app in Red Wing, Minnesota,” she said. “Not exactly the tech community stereotype!”
Red Wing may seem like an unlikely place for a tech startup to flourish, but the city is home to an accelerator with national connections. Red Wing Ignite, part of US Ignite, is the only rural accelerator in the national program and has enabled Langer to simultaneously be with her family and continue developing her app.
“There’s also a lot of older millennials who are now moving back to where they grew up to raise their own kids,” Langer said of the effort to make rural communities more accessible to technology.
Live.Give.Save is owned and founded by women. Although there’s been an increasing number of women entering tech, they often face disparities in pay and opportunity. The difference in growth and revenue is still surprising, Langer said. However, she expressed positivity for the future.
“I have no doubt that there will be growth. We are passionate about wanting to help other women,” Langer said.
Looking forward for Live.Give.Save. specifically, Langer’s vision is global. She hopes to bring the idea of microgiving back to where she traveled in Africa to help finance entrepreneurs in all sorts of communities. “The idea is an effortless and realistic way to use existing behaviors to transform futures.”