“Know thyself: Every person will have their own path, and it’s most important to find yours. That means taking the time to pursue things that interest you and getting in alignment with your personal values and beliefs. This could start by doing a weekly check-in and writing down what motivates you, what you like to do, and what values you admire in others.”
I had the pleasure to interview Lindsay Holden. Lindsey is the CEO of Long Game, a gamified personal finance app for Millenials that encourages saving with rewards and cash prizes. Before starting Long Game, Lindsay Holden co-founded the Applicant Auction, the primary auction for Top Level Domain names which held over $1B in auctions before being acquired. Before that she helped to launch Formation 8, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. Ms. Holden holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Thank you so much for joining us. Can you share your backstory and prior experience with us?
I’ve always tried to organize my life around solving problems that I care about. In college, I was passionate about cleaning up the environment so I studied Chemical Engineering and then jumped directly into working in hazardous waste remediation. So I spent my early 20s hanging around Superfund sites. My parents weren’t pumped. But I was really passionate about wanting to help out and so I did.
Over time, I realized that you could drive even more change to solve problems by tapping into the forces of global capitalism. So my next job was working in venture capital, where I got exposure to start-ups that were trying to solve some of the biggest environmental problems on earth. I was inspired by these entrepreneurs, and it was that experience that has ultimately led me to become an entrepreneur myself.
As I was learning about entrepreneurship and financial markets, I helped to build an auction company called Applicant Auction. We managed over $500M in top-level domain auctions, and eventually sold the company.
During this time, my ideas of a starting a company to help fix people’s personal finances were coalescing. We all have people in our lives who have not been effective at managing their finances. It can just be really hard to do, and I’ve struggled with this personally too. Finances are an emotional topic; people feel stressed, or upset, or happy about their finances, but financial institutions today totally miss the emotional component.
I decided I wanted to try to help everybody get a better handle on their financial lives, and Long Game was born. We use games and rewards to change the emotional experience of managing your personal finances and, in doing so, we empower people to build the life they’ve always wanted.
How does your company help people?
Long Game is a combination of personal finance and gaming. We give you an FDIC-insured savings account and we use games and rewards to encourage you to keep saving. We help you envision your financial life as an overarching game — the Long Game — and as you’re progressing in the app and achieving your financial goals we reward you with games where you can actually win cash and crypto. So it’s like a no-lose lottery — you get the chance to win up to $1M just for saving your own money. Obviously, the money you are saving is never at risk, and the more you save, the more chances you have to win. The app is available for Android and iOS Devices.
Can you tell me about the most interesting project you are working on now?
We found that a lot of our customers are interested in cryptocurrency. Just for reference, our customers are almost entirely under the age of 30, and they are tech savvy and cool-kids. They’re interested in blockchain and crypto assets, but most aren’t in a place to invest in the risky, volatile crypto markets.
We just launched a couple features that help educate customers about blockchain and give them ways to get into the crypto markets, without taking on any risk. People can win crypto in our games and also earn crypto as they achieve their savings goals and level-up in Long Game. It’s a lot of fun, and you just have to save money to play.
We are super excited about where blockchain technology is going and we want to make sure our customers are up to date, so this is our way of helping you to learn about crypto and blockchain while avoiding the risk of investing your own money.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person or mentor who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My dad was a small business owner who ran a pet hospital in San Francisco. I learned a lot from just watching him. He taught me so much and is just an amazing person; the most content person I know. I respect that he is incredibly values-driven but he’s not on a soap-box about it. He just lives his values. Running a business is hard, but it always seemed doable to me because it saw my dad do it. I’m grateful for the model he has been for me and also for the confidence he has always had in me.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Decentralization: It can be slightly difficult to understand the implications, but it has the potential to completely transform how our economy works. With decentralized networks no one party has control, which has broad applications and is philosophically incredibly cool.
- Free, or near-free Transactions: Specifically these technologies have the potential to transform the financial services industry. Currently, our financial services are built on outdated infrastructure with a lot of middle men. Blockchain can enable free (or almost free) transactions, which will make it possible to move capital more efficiently and will hopefully improve the efficiency of other industries as a result.
- Transparency: I’m also excited about the potential to drive increased transparency in business. Blockchain will be transformative to any number of industries, from real estate to healthcare to accounting to supply chains.There is a huge advantage to making data transparent and accessible, but still immutable, for these applications.
- New forms of governance: This is perhaps the most exciting potential impact of blockchain. Blockchain can be used to enable new ways of group decision making, without dependency on a centralized, prescriptive authority. This means that we’re starting to think of governance and decision making in a new ways that haven’t been put into practice before.
- New Talent: It’s cool to see that the crypto space is drawing in really smart people who think differently. It’s an enterprising group of people is less susceptible to some of the narrow thinking that plagues more traditional talent pools.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Scams and Fraudulent projects: As crypto markets develop, there are a lot of scams popping up like fraudulent ICOs, techniques to manipulate token value, etc. These kinds of scams are common in developing markets and hopefully the industry will find ways to sort this out before we stifle creativity or create too much regulation.
- Regulatory risk: Regulation is still in development, so there are challenges in working the space in the meantime. It can be risky to create new things when the rules are still being sorted out.
- Destabilization of current systems: As an entrepreneur I’m excited about the potential that these technologies introduce new systems, but these changes also introduce the risk of destabilizing existing systems. The changes will be beneficial in the long run, but there will be some turmoil created in short term for some people.
- Understanding Blockchain: I’m also concerned that currently most end-users don’t really understand blockchain. Crypto assets and blockchain projects are getting a lot of hype, but I don’t see a lot of meaningful education taking place to help every day consumers understand the technologies. This will get better over time, but it will take some time for society to get up to speed.
- Technical risk: As exciting as these technologies are, there are a lot of technical hurdles to overcome before the blockchain can live up to the hype. I believe in the future of blockchain, but it’s going to take a lot of work to get from here to where it can go in the future.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
The cool thing about Long Game is that it’s the only game in the world where, if you’re doing well in the game, you’re doing well in life. We have people reach out all the time to tell us they have been able to save because of our game. There are a few stores that stick with me: We had someone reach out and say that they felt like they have finally been able to care for their young daughter because they were able to have a bit more savings for an emergency. Another person told us they were able to fix their car with their Long Game savings (which used to be a big problem for them).
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
- Know thyself: Every person will have their own path, and it’s most important to find yours. That means taking the time to pursue things that interest you and getting in alignment with your personal values and beliefs. This could start by doing a weekly check-in and writing down what motivates you, what you like to do, and what values you admire in others.
- Develop professional relationships: Another thing is to take time to develop your professional relationships. It’s important to nourish your professional relationships — you’ll be working with the same people your whole life and there’s a compounding effect to investing in this.
- Functional training: Lastly is to get the hard training you need. Put in the work, be open to feedback, explore ways to develop your skills. This is a lifelong process and it pays to get started early. An example for this is to take a course in something that interests you. A friend of mine just started a course at ConseSys to learn how to program on the Ethereum network — his ultimate goal is to invest in blockchain projects but he decided to take this course because it will give him a better understanding of the technology and its’ benefits and limitations.
Is there a person whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would love to meet Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. First, it would be really fun to hang out with them; I’m a huge fan of Broad City. But also, I really admire them as creative leaders and how they seem to build a healthy work culture around themselves. They are authentic, creative, smart, and have strong beliefs. I love their commentary on society and feminism; it really resonates with me.
Originally published at medium.com