Coin Rivet recently attended the Malta AI and Blockchain Summit, and while there we had the chance to speak with the head of growth and business development at Pigzbe, Anna Frankowska, to learn more about the importance of financial literacy, how to inspire more women in fintech, and Pigzbe’s future.
Anna is a highly-acclaimed entrepreneur, winning a series of awards throughout her career. As you would expect from someone as successful as Anna, she spoke with vibrant passion mirroring her unwavering love for her work.
An ex-investment banker, relentless entrepreneur, and a huge advocate for social impact, Anna provided Coin Rivet with a number of fascinating insights.
What is Pigzbe?
To use Anna’s own words, Pigzbe is like a “digital piggy bank” with the primary aim to help children develop money management skills early on in life.
“It helps them develop awesome money management habits, how to invest, how to manage money, how to save, which is super important. And like financial education, it’s one of the most overlooked skillsets – so that’s why we designed our product,” she states.
Anna is very vocal on the importance of financial education, and for good reason. She referred to a study released by Cambridge University that revealed children’s money management habits are shaped at the age of seven.
“If you think about it, it literally defines your entire life, because I would say financial distress is one of the most stressful situations whether you’re 30, 40, 50, or 60,” adds Anna.
“So early on your life is kind of defined, and financial education is really key and important. Not many schools have that as part of their curriculum, so that’s why we’ve created this product to help parents, to help children.”
Pigzbe is designed in a “really playful manner” like a “playful tool, a game, an IoT device that’s like a wallet for children and also a parental app, so there’s a nice ecosystem where parents give tasks and you get rewarded for completing tasks like cleaning a bedroom.”
— Pigzbe🐽 (@Pigzbe) June 5, 2019
‘A perfect combination of three worlds’
Commenting on how she became involved with the world of fintech, Anna revealed: “I mean look, I’m an investment banker by my training, so I love finance.
“I studied economics, so that was my first experience and training in the financial industry and in the capital markets and investment banking divisions. Then it was kind of a natural progression into fintech – I love tech, I love what tech can do to the entire world, how it changes our interaction or how businesses work, the same as I love innovation.
“So a basic combination of my background and technology and Pigzbe is a social impact company, so it’s actually a perfect combination of three worlds.”
Throughout her career, Anna has won multiple awards, including being named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in the field of technology in 2017.
It was winning this award that led to Anna’s meeting the CEO of Pigzbe, who was a Forbes 30 under 30-winning entrepreneur in social impact before they began working together.
“I did not expect to win,” reveals Anna. “Someone nominated me and I wasn’t even aware. I was just focused on building the product, building the company, completely locked away from the entire world and then yeah, I just got my email in my mailbox saying congratulations!
“I would say it was a huge surprise and kind of a breakthrough because it gives you so much credibility and connects you with brilliant like-minded entrepreneurs, or just people in the tech space.
“The greatest benefit is that you are part of this community that’s changed my career. They want to drive innovation, they want to make some impact, so having that network is super, super useful.”
She also won the rising star award from The Sunday Times and WeAreTheCity for her work with NightSet – a nightlife marketplace which helped people find the best hot spots in real time through live-streaming what was actually happening in bars.
Anna has also launched a company called ‘Distributed Academy’, which is an education provider for institutions, teaching insurance companies, real estate banks, and more about blockchain.
— Pigzbe🐽 (@Pigzbe) May 30, 2019
How to inspire more women in the tech space
One thing that we hear a lot as journalists in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space is the ever-prominent gender imbalance.
“I mean that’s just the statistics, right?” Anna said. “There is a huge gender imbalance. There is definitely less women, but it was the same in investment banking – there was a huge disproportion of men to women.”
One aspect Anna pointed out to Coin Rivet that is perhaps less talked about is how it is harder for women to fundraise.
“It’s much harder for women to fundraise, it’s statistically proven as well,” she reveals.
“Like, I know 8% of capital goes to women even though one-third of the founders are female entrepreneurs, so it’s a little bit harder, but then again there’s a few great initiatives to kind of bring awareness and accelerate the gender as well, which I’m a really big fan of.”
Anna’s advice for aspiring women in the space is:
“Just be bold, courageous, go for it, position yourself, be smart, utilise your strengths, be relentless. It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur, it’s definitely much harder than anyone would imagine – it’s like a roller coaster – but make sure you’re surrounded by great advisors and mentors and create a trusted network around you.
“Definitely do something you’re passionate about. But then I wouldn’t say passion is the key. Actually I would say a more rational kind of approach is more important, like verify your business model and make sure you have good revenue streams, build a good core product. And it’s best if it’s within your interests and something you want to change or improve.”
— Pigzbe🐽 (@Pigzbe) May 8, 2019
Pigzbe is set to launch in September
Across the last year and a half, Pigzbe has been focused on building an “amazing product” and “testing it out on thousands of families and kids”.
Anna concluded our interview with news of Pigzbe’s release.
“We’ll be launching in September, so you’ll be able to get Pigzbe and dive into the world of financial education then!”