What started as an MBA unit project is now on its way to the mainstream after being shortlisted in a major competition that supports ambitious female entrepreneurs in tech startups.
MBA graduate Carla Harris’ product, called ‘Longevity’, is a revolutionary superannuation app that was created with a team of fellow MBA students as part of her final MBA capstone unit at the University of Sydney Business School.
The app contains the potential to change the way people retire, and so was submitted to the SheStarts People’s Choice Awards, a competition designed by SheStarts, which is an organisation designed to support female tech entrepreneurs and their big-business ideas.
Longevity made the shortlist of finalists and is set to receive $100,000 in pre-seed funding to develop her idea upon winning.
“I nearly fell off my chair when I got the call that I was shortlisted,” Ms Harris said.
Longevity is a micro-savings app which enables users to put more into their superannuation savings without having to invest large amounts of money upfront. It links transaction accounts to a person’s nominated superannuation account, and as a result a small percentage of an everyday transaction goes into super.
“It was an obvious solution to a common problem,” Ms Harris said.
The intended result of using the app is to see smaller yet more frequent contributions to super during one’s working and spending life, in order to boost a super’s balance and provide extra funds upon retirement.
Ms Harris said the inception for Longevity came after speaking with retirees about the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives.
“One common thread that stood out,” she said.
“Too many retirees are in a situation where they don’t have enough money to retire on.”
“We tracked back a couple of generations and started talking to millenials and social media savvy people to understand how we could prevent them from being in the same situation as their grandparents.”
Longevity’s success in the competition can be attributed to how SheStarts saw its potential to empower future retirees, particularly women, with the skills and technology they need to be financially stable.
“When I was investigating the stresses of finances in retirement, it stood out as a gendered issue – women retire with half the amount of superannuation as men,” Ms Harris said.
Having been born from the University of Sydney’s MBA capstone unit, Ms Harris and Longevity were congratulated on their success by the unit’s coordinator Dr Eric Knight.
“The MBA capstone unit is not a simulation, it’s not a consulting assignment,” he said.
“We are working with real, live business problems as Carla’s innovative idea shows.”
Ms Harris is currently working with a team of computer programmers, data and research, and engineering experts to further develop the app and bring it to its full potential.
Longevity was selected out of over 800 applications to be one of 20 shortlisted for the SheStarts program, run by Blue Chilli.