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Dal Entrepreneurs Unveil Parental Finance App

After a long and hectic summer, a group of entrepreneurs from Dalhousie University will unveil their financial app Purchext to angel investors in Toronto today as the final segment of the grueling Next 36 course.

Purchext is a company formed at Dalhousie last spring and its founders — Cam McDonald, Zachary Levy, and Daniel Bartek — took the project to the Next 36 program, a three-month academic/mentoring program for undergraduate entrepreneurs. The graduation from the program includes pitches to angel investors.

Having worked and reworked their proposal and technology over the summer, they have settled on a product that helps parents contribute to and monitor their teenager’s money. The team has also landed a major Canadian bank as its first customer, and they hope to launch a pilot project in October or November.

“We’ve built a mobile banking app for teenagers,” said McDonald in an interview Sunday. “It’s a platform where teens can ask for money from their parents, receive money from their parents and manage the money they have.”

As well as the pilot project with the bank, Purchext is searching for about 50 parents to participate in a beta test of the project in the next few months and provide feedback on how it works.

“The more the parents let us know about their background, the better we’ll be able to tell them how their kids do financially,” he said.

Purchext aims to solve the problem that parents have in not knowing what high-school and university-age offspring do with the money they’re given. McDonald said parents need to know if they’re giving too much, too little and what it’s being used for, especially for children away at university.

The product, which has been built out with the help of another Dal student, developer Nathan Lapierre, is a mobile phone app that allows children to ask their parents for money and for the parents to know what the money is used for. If a student buys groceries, he or she can send an electronic receipt to their parents, who can then reimburse the student for the exact cost.

What’s more, Purchext will aggregate all its data and let the parents know if they’re giving their kids more or less money than the average family in similar circumstances. It also helps to improve the financial literacy and financial habits of young people.

The Purchext team is made up of serial entrepreneurs who went through Dalhousie’s Starting Lean startup course last year with their company Sage Mixology, which is developing a two-chamber bottle that separates liquor and the mix until they are poured.

The team worked hard to get into the Next 36 course (McDonald applied four times), which is one of the most demanding courses for entrepreneurial students in the country. The program distinguishes itself with an emphasis on academics, forcing entrepreneurs to work on their businesses and attend 150 hours of classes, with lecturers from some of the leading institutions in the world, such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford. (Next 36 is planning an event in Moncton in September to raise awareness in Atlantic Canada.)

“It’s been a summer filled with lots of stress and little sleep,” said McDonald. “For personal development, it’s been really great. I know five years from now I’ll look back on this and be glad I did it.”

McDonald, Bartek and Levy are now planning on how to proceed with Purchext and what the composition of the team will be. One thing McDonald does plan to do is assist Ed Leach and Mary Kilfoil with the Starting Lean program this year.

Anyone interested in participating in the beta test of Purchext should contact Zach Levy at zach@purchext.com.