Fun funding: Students open banking app

Senior+Shrey+Gupta%2C+Junior+Bardia+Safari+and+Senior+Eric+Lee+

Senior Shrey Gupta, Junior Bardia Safari and Senior Eric Lee

Three, two, one. You have now successfully set up your nonprofit bank account—ready to start making an impact and Fundsy, created by seniors Shrey Gupta, Eric Lee and junior Bardia Safari, will supply the banking.

Starting a bank was not easy, according to Gupta. The project began in May 2020 after they faced challenges starting up their own nonprofit organizations and community projects. These high school students were discouraged when faced with filing fees and lengthy legal processes, so they crafted this bank to provide easier financial tools for aspiring leaders.

“We take people who want to make a change in their community and start a community project and we give them the tools needed to be successful and get started,” Safari said. “We had a lot to learn since creating an app that requires very strong security and great user experience required many different technologies. When you start coding it starts with simple tasks, but suddenly you go from typing on a monitor to processing checks for $20K from the Tides Foundation to the DearAsianYouth.”

Fundsy serves as a bank, donation and fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. Through their platform, organizations can efficiently facilitate funding for their projects.

“We wanted to see how far [Fundsy] could go, so through the development process, we were all focused on getting the app to fruition and making it appealing to potential future users,” Lee said. “We then brought organizations that already existed to test the app, and currently we are working on publishing the app to the app store.”

Fundsy serves over 100 organizations across the world from London to Lebanon and more establishments across the country. They are in partnership with an FDIC-insured bank and ship physical debit cards, plus provide access to virtual debit cards on the app which offers payment features like Venmo and Paypal.

“We were getting emails every single day from organizations around the world,” Gupta said. “The fact that people are finding us without having to market and the fact that we have already raised $108K when we haven’t done any outreach at all. People are just finding us, people are just sharing us with their friends and we have organizations [everywhere].”

Gupta, Lee and Safari’s close friendship proved beneficial as it allowed for easier communication and made the process more memorable while pushing them to work harder. Gupta worked on all the background features such as the card swipe and the banking while Lee and Safari worked on user experience, making sure all the features and visuals run smoothly.

“We were all friends beforehand but through [Fundsy] we all became closer,” Safari said. “One of our first meetings was at Shrey’s pool where we just sat outside and coded for hours, we’ve met at Stacks, we’ve met at Starbucks, so meeting at day and night and working with your teammates and friends to solve this problem gets you closer because you are problem-solving together and bonding together.”

Lee, Safari and Gupta credited Faten Sakallah and her AP Computer Science class for teaching them skills and knowledge that were valuable to them when creating Fundsy.

“I am very proud of their accomplishment and their pursuit for perfection because that’s what they want,” Sakallah said. “I wish others will do what they are interested in because Shrey, Bardia and Eric were interested in building apps. I hope other students will take what they learned and pursue their passion and apply what they learned into that application or field.”

Fundsy is currently only open to organizations that are privately invited to apply; in the near future they hope to release the application to the public and open for all. Three years of hard work has allowed them to fulfill their goal of working against prevalent concerns in their communities to allow for innovation.

“Suddenly you have seventeen and sixteen year olds dealing with real money, thousands of dollars in organizations that are making an impact and this little thing you started as a fun project turns into something where you can see observable change and you can see where the money is going and how this affecting people in the real world which has been really fun,” Safari said.