Money saving habits are one of the most important and essential skills to have in life. It is hard and needs dedication and determination. It’s even better if these habits were developed from a young age, which is why the founders of ERNIT created the world’s first smart piggy bank that has recently raised over $700,000 on Crunchbase. “We all had piggy banks when we were kids, but as grownups, we didn’t see our kids using piggy banks in the same way we did,” said Soren Nielsen, one of the three founders of ERNIT who also has a daughter.
How is it used? ERNIT is a two-faced app; the parents can also log into the section of the app as well as the children, but first, the child has to set a goal in the app. A goal can be anything like an iPad or a gift for mom. Once that’s done, parents, grandparents and other adults can transfer money directly to the piggy bank. After every transfer, the piggy bank lights up and plays a sound, and the money can be claimed by pressing its snout. Cute right? This money can be distributed between the different goals that have been set in the app. “This is an essential part in teaching children how to understand the concept of money and both in the app and on the piggy bank they can see how far away they are from their goal – so we are using money as mean to teach them about things like patience, endurance and delayed gratification,” said Nielsen.
The physical piggy bank is built with a PCB board that has a WIFI module, LED lights, speaker, and an ARM processor. It is connected to a server on ERNIT’s backend side where API calls are being made to control lights and sounds according to Nielsen. “The piggy bank is built as an internet of things platform where others can use our API’s and our algorithms to build financial literacy products.”
ERNIT is intended for children between the ages of 4 to 10. The reason? According to experts, that’s when the children start to learn the concept of money. “A lot of children get money first time from the tooth fairy at the same age. We sell the piggy bank to the banks who then give it to their customers in this target audience,” said Nielsen.
The idea of this product was formed when the three family fathers who are also the founders of ERNIT were sitting around a New Year’s Eve table talking about how to give their children some good money habits a few years back. “My own daughter calls my credit card for the magic card because she thinks that it comes with this endless amount of money,” said Nielsen.
After the dinner, he interviewed experts on the field as being a former Editor in Chief for Denmark’s biggest financial media. He also talked to child psychologists, behavioral scientists as well as financial experts. What he noticed was “all were agreeing that we are going from a society with cash towards a more and more cashless society, and in that transition, a lot of learning is getting lost. Especially for children that need to be able to see, hear and touch to understand a concept like money.” That’s why they have created ERNIT.
What’s different about this product compared to the other ones is that the other products focus on ages 8 and up. “We are focusing on empowering children with essential lifelong skills from the age of 4 where the foundation of your financial education begins,” said Nielsen.
ERNIT has raised a lot of money on Crunchbase. “We are going to use the money to make a successful integration into our first Nordic bank, Spar Nord, send the product to market and then be able to scale afterwards,” said Nielsen. They also had a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and were part of the Techstars Accelerator program in 2016 in New York where over 1,000 companies applied, and only 10 were able to get in. “These two single events have been crucial in us getting to where we are today,” said Nielsen.