The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light many social issues but one of the most striking is the wealth gap separating wealthy Americans and the shrinking middle class. Charlotte DeMocker and her team at Penny saw this gap widen as the pandemic continued to drive layoffs and business closures. People, especially women, were losing their sources of income and having to tighten their belts more than ever. In September 2020, they released their app: Penny | Master Your Money.
“We were working all through the pandemic to get these tools into people’s hands. People really need this information and the support more than ever before,” DeMocker says. Penny is a free audio financial literacy app, that provides users with “albums” on particular topics. Users customize their search for information that they are interested in.
After losing her parents at a young age, and putting herself through college, DeMocker understood the struggle and the importance of money management. She chose a “safe” degree in finance. DeMocker started her career as an analyst at a top investment bank. But realized that the financial system was rigged. She saw wealthy people continue to succeed while everyday people struggled to get ahead despite working hard.
Penny was born out of a conversation between DeMocker and her friend. “We really saw this dynamic of [people] working really hard but struggling to even get by while the upper 1 percent was doubling their overall aggregate income.”
They started discussing the underlying causes of this problem and provide the average American with tools to navigate the financial world.
They created the world’s first audio financial literacy app to help people make the most out of their finances.
“It’s [simplifying and reimagining] how we learn about money, so that people could be empowered to go in and find the pieces of [information] that they want to work on for free, and add to their vocabulary and their knowledge,” says Democker.
Creating a sustainable company through a mission and values
“There’s definitely a contrast between growing and doing it in a sustainable way, and especially when you’re trying to grow fast and meet really big goals, it can be really hard to find the right people and find people who are aligned with your mission,” says DeMocker.
DeMocker sees Penny as a social impact company her goal is to help Americans struggling with money.“Having that shared commitment to a vision and a mission helps align the team and helps to reduce turnover.”
DeMocker’s advice for women entrepreneurs
While the pandemic posed a challenge for DeMocker and Penny, so did being a woman in a leadership role. “As a leader and a young female, one of my biggest challenges is getting the respect I deserve and having my voice really heard.” says DeMocker.
DeMocker pushed to be seen as more than just “a girl with a dream,” as she puts it. “Use your expertise and passion to prove your leadership capabilities,” says DeMocker.
She encourages other entrepreneurs to be vocal about their ideas. “I’m very strong-willed and I love to share my opinion. I love to hear other people’s opinions, especially when it challenges me, so I like to cultivate an environment of [openness],” says DeMocker .
She also believes in the power of community and networking. “Building a community is really powerful,” says DeMocker. ” It can lead you to some of the most amazing mentors and opportunities.”
“Having women in leadership roles [is so valuable] and it needs to happen more often.”
DeMocker believes in being clear and transparent when it comes to communicating. “Get really clear about your goals and what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself,” says DeMocker.
Learn more about Penny here: https://penny.fm/discover