At Wednesday’s 1 Million Cups event, hosted by Thrive DTSP, a panel of local business leaders heard how the founder of St. Petersburg startup Tech & Flow hopes to inspire a culture of financial success for young professionals through an online academy and, upon completion, an innovative mobile app.
According to its website, Tech & Flow’s mission is to develop a unique digital experience to assist tech, sports and creative professionals through an online academy and coaching services. Xavier Gray, a former financial adviser and founder of the startup, began his presentation by asking who among the panel felt like they were taught the keys to financial literacy during their formative years. The question elicited a round of laughter.
Gray said that during his previous career as a banker and financial advisor, he witnessed several companies that offered useful products and services. However, many customers did not understand how to leverage those resources to their benefit.
“I would sit down in front of people, and there was just such a gap between what I know – the language, the perspective – and the other person,” he said.
Gray founded Tech & Flow in April 2021 to fill that knowledge gap. His target audience is young professionals between 18 and 40, who he called the world’s future leaders and decision-makers. He admitted that people could utilize Google or websites like Investopedia to glean financial knowledge, but he believes that information is often difficult to understand and does not offer learning incentives.
Gray said his financial academy offers courses on material from basic budgeting and money management to more complex concepts like arbitrage, how to launch a business or understanding tax codes. He added that Tech & Flow partners with industry leaders in various fields, such as cryptocurrency and estate planning, that can personally assist users. Gray said he is also building an innovative mobile application.
“The function of this application is to basically be a financial advisor in your pocket,” he said.
After logging into the app, Gray said users would create a personal avatar and answer a series of questions to identify objectives. If someone wants to pay off credit card debt, the app’s artificial intelligence could create a list of requirements for users to complete. As someone fulfills the objectives, they earn points to exchange for free stocks or crypto tokens.
One panelist noted that the gamification of fulfilling objectives is a unique aspect that would set Tech & Flow apart from a myriad of other financial planning apps. Gray referenced the Coinbase cryptocurrency platform as an example of allowing users to earn tokens for learning about crypto and blockchain companies.
“That’s part of the path, where we’re going,” he said.
Another panelist referenced academic research showing that it is imperative to teach financial literacy as early as middle school and how the state now requires high schools to offer courses on the subject. She asked Gray if he considered offering his services to a younger audience.
Gray said one of his company’s partners focuses on teaching children from kindergarten through sixth grade, but he has “zero intention” of lowering his age range. He said his target audience has finished grade school, begun earning income and is now looking to make healthy financial decisions to better position themselves for the future.
“I think that’s the lane we’ll stay in,” he said. “And I think our technology is desirable.”
Gray said he designed most of Tech & Flow’s curriculum, consisting of videos, worksheets and the aforementioned app. Customers can also schedule personal coaching sessions. Through another partner, Gray said there are also detailed programs centered around crypto, blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Gray announced a recent partnership with the University of Miami, in which the school utilizes the Tech & Flow platform to offer financial education for students. He said he is also working on a similar partnership with St. Petersburg College.
Tech & Flow currently has 23 users and $60,000 in revenue in just under its first year. He hopes to reach 10,000 users over the next five years and increase revenue through partnerships and offering additional services, such as insurance, wealth management and mortgages. The company currently charges $19.99 per month for a subscription to its academy.
“I think that’s going to change a little bit once the app is live,” he said. “Right now, it’s purely the financial academy and the coaches. We’re about 60% of the way done developing the application – I think what’s holding us up is capital.”
In addition to the capital needed to complete Tech & Flow’s app, Gray asked the panel of local business leaders to try the academy for free and offer their feedback. He also offered to attend speaking engagements and provide educational information.