Round 10
Winner
Finoo
by

The world's first study abroad digital wallet.

Budget request:  
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Startup

Category

Cross-Border Payments
Defi & Wallets

Based in

Delaware, U.S.A.

Team size

Active since

2021
Products & Services

Towards borderless education

Every year, over 5 million students across the world decide to pursue their education abroad. Although the experience of going to a university in a different country is undoubtedly one of the best in their lives, the process of paying for that can be very stressful.


Lack of financial support and  high-fees are just two of the many challenges international students face.


To help these millions of people accomplish this goal of studying abroad, we are launching Finoo, the world's first study abroad digital wallet.


By opening an account at Finoo, students are able to:

  • Save money on their own currency;
  • Convert to the currency they need to pay their university with;
  • Pay the university;


Designed specifically to help people going to university abroad, our app includes features that aim to support students throughout the whole process.


When they sign up, they have the opportunity to create a study plan, selecting where they want to study, how much they will need; and when they plan to start.


Once that is set, our app will help them plan financially, knowing how much to save per month, schedule future payments and more.


From that moment on, our API integration with currency exchanges will start notifying them every time their local currency appreciates, suggesting the best days to convert their money to USD, CAD, GBP or any other currency they will pay their university with.


When the time comes to make the first payments (application fees, tuition, accommodation or any other), they can simply select the amount they want to send to the university, insert their student ID and that's it. Finoo sends the money straight to the university's bank account.


Students are also able to keep on track with their plan, by seeing how much they have paid so far and how much they still need to.


How Stellar is enabling our project

Stellar's extensive network of anchors worldwide, enables Finoo to move its users' funds from one country to another (FIAT - USDC - FIAT). Not only that, Stellar's low costs and speed of transactions enables Finoo to offer the best rates of the market.

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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far

In the past few weeks, we have validated our concept with our target audience and we are now testing our prototype on Apple's test flight app.


In terms of funding, we bootstrapped initially USD15k. Besides that, we received another EUR15k from Startupbootcamp, the largest incubator in Europe, for their accelerator program earlier this year.

Goals

By December, 2022, we will have launched our app (iOS and Android) in our initial markets (Brazil and Canada), with 45 Canadian Universities & Colleges signed up.


Following our launch, we aim to acquire 1500 users a month at a customer acquisition cost of up to USD2,50.


By July, 2023 we aim to have signed up an additional 115 educational institutions in Canada.

To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
*
  to:

Below our go-to market operational plan divided into 3 main areas:


Product:

To build and maintain a modular system (Initially MVP for IOs and Android) we would need a technical team of 4 (One frontend, 2 backend and one mobile) lead by the current CTO.

The products we intend to release would be:

  1. Mobile app -  Android and iOS;
  2. Web view dashboard;
  3. Admin dashboard -  For the company's internal team.


Marketing:

  • Sign up 45 educational institutions in Canada. *Our plan is to target first, community colleges, followed by larger colleges in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan (leaving bigger and renowned universities for last).


Legal:

  • Incorporate a subsidiary of Finoo in Canada. *This process is relatively simple, taking less than 2 weeks, costing us USD 3 thousand in total.
  • Acquire a MSB (Money Service Business) license in Canada. *The application of this license takes around 3months and will cost us USD 8 thousand.
Overview

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Anyone who has ever studied abroad will say that was one of the best experiences in their lives. Pursuing your education abroad not only helps you grow as a person but it also opens a lot of doors in your career.


Unfortunately for those millions of students from Latin America, Africa and Asia, going to university in countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom is becoming more and more expensive.


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Have you met Sarah?


Sarah is a Brazilian student planning to study at the University of Calgary, in Canada. But, she's struggling to afford her studies.


Not only does she not have enough money up front to pay her tuition but the exchange rates she has access to are making the costs of her studies even more expensive. And on top of that, her bank in Brazil is charging her around 7% in fees just to make the wire transfer to the university's account in Canada.


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Here's how we can help Sarah!


Built on top of Stellar's Blockchain, Finoo is making this process: easier, cheaper, more secure and convenient. Here's How:


By opening an account at Finoo, Sarah is able to:


  • Easily SAVE MONEY in her local currency (BRL)


  • CONVERT to the currency she needs (CAD)


  • And finally,  PAY the University of Calgary in seconds. ALL through the app.


Less fees, more convenience.


Sarah is not alone out there…


According to UNESCO, in 2020 over 5.6 million people studied at a university abroad (6% growth compared to 2019). This number increases even more when including short-term courses and language students.


As our first target market, Canada alone welcomed over 10% of all these international students. Who together sent USD 16 Billion to their universities' accounts.


Big companies like Western Union, Paymytuition and Flywire have been in this industry for years.


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But here’s what makes us unique!


While they make students, like Sarah,  go through the same traditional process, simply offering slightly lower fees than banks;


Finoo’s use of Stellar blockchain allows us to reduce the costs for students up to 50% more.


Not only that, our multi-currency wallet enables students to wait for the right moments to convert their money, exploring market opportunities.


Finoo is currently also looking for ways to help students generate yields in the money they hold on their accounts.


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Powered by Stellar


Stellar's ecosystem and technology offers the infrastructure we need to implement this project. See below:


  • Low transaction fees:  Enable us to reduce the costs for our users, like Sarah to send money to their universities;
  • Speed of transactions: Enable us to process our users requests in seconds;
  • Network of anchors: Allow us to reach a wider range of markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America, making our solution available for students in very remote areas.


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Our revenue model


Our revenue model is based on transaction fees. Finoo charges users like Sarah a flat % rate when converting their money.


Differently from our main competitors, Finoo's use of the Stellar blockchain enables us to reduce our transactions costs considerably, and therefore offer our users a lower price for a better experience.


Our latest top-down projections estimate a USD 14 million annual revenue at the end of the fifth year. *Important. These numbers are based on a gradual market-share increase from 2.5% to 15% of the total market.


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Reaching Sarah and hundreds of thousands  of other students


Our marketing plan includes both B2B2C and B2C models.


B2B2C:


By partnering with educational institutions, such as schools, colleges and universities, Finoo shall be displayed on their websites as one of the official platforms their students can use to process their payments.


A strong branding alongside lower fees will significantly increase the % of students from those particular institutions choosing our platform instead of others.


Our goal for the next 12 to 24 months is to increase the number of partnered institutions to 115.


B2C:


On the other hand, our direct to consumer model involves an inbound marketing funnel, that shall originate leads through Social Media channels (Instagram, Meta, Youtube and TikTok mainly) to our official blog where we will deliver valuable content on "How to prepare yourself financially to afford your studies abroad".


Once they subscribe, then it starts the nurturing process with more personalized content and offers to convert them into users.


Our goal is to have 25 thousand users  in 24 months.


*The full detailed action plan can be shared upon request of SFC.


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Key partners


The following companies are key partners with whom Finoo is collaborating with to potentialize our marketing efforts:


  • FPP - The largest study abroad virtual fair organizer in the world.


  • Applyboard - The largest study abroad application platform in the world.


  • Languages Canada - The biggest association of language schools in Canada (our first target market).



Threats and opportunities


Strengths:


  • Lean structure and customer-centric mindset enable us to stay tuned and connected with our customers changing needs;
  • Founder's long-term connections with Canadian and American universities and Colleges;
  • Partnership with the largest study abroad fair organizer in the world (FPP), leveraging their high marketing reach in important markets worldwide;
  • Backed by the largest accelerator outside the USA (StartupBootcamp);




Weaknesses:


  • As an early-stage startup, our small team and limited capital resources impose an extra layer of challenge by slowing the completion of some of our milestones;
  • Low transactional flow of funds block us from negotiating better rates with some of our providers, such as Banking infrastructure providers;
  • Our app is not yet available globally.


Opportunities:


  • The increase in the number of students worldwide pursuing their education abroad;
  • Constant currency volatility in important markets make our solution more attractive to our target audience;
  • Competitors are less inclined to adapt new technologies into their solutions;
  • The potential launch of CBDCs in important markets across the world;
  • The potential acceptance of digital currencies by educational universities as a form of payment.


Threats:


  • As any company who's incorporated digital currencies into their solutions, the surge of new regulations impose a threat to the business;
  • High Dependency on BaaS providers in some specific markets;
  • The surge of high-return saving accounts options;
  • The ingression of big players in the industry, such as ApplyBoard (Canadian unicorn) to this field.



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Why our team?


This is the story of two people who met playing football together while living abroad, became friends and realized they had much in common.


Peter and I have both been on the user's shoes ourselves. When applying to study abroad, we faced the very problems we aim to solve.


Having come from Brazil and Peter from Malawi, we resonate with Stellar's mission of bringing financial inclusion to the unbanked people of the world.


We are building FINOO with one mission, to turn education borderless, and help millions of people around the globe pursue better opportunities abroad.

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Team

Carlos Ronchetti

Founder & CEO


With a background in communication, Carlos has over 8 years of experience in the international education industry, having helped hundreds of students in Latin America to pursue their education abroad. As a former international student himself, he's now on a mission to make education borderless.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlos-ronchetti-a48196b1/


Peter Phillip

Co-founder & CTO

Originally from Malawi, Peter combines a background in IT with over 15 years of experience in software architecting with his passion in building solutions to improve quality of life to communities around the world. Big football fan, he hopes to encourage future African entrepreneurs to take the stage in building the world's next innovations.  


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-phillip-23aa21231/