Research Foundation News

October 3, 2018

Combat ready: Purdue-affiliated startup to teach financial literacy for armed forces, boost preparedness for troops to be deployed

Combat ready: Purdue-affiliated startup to teach financial literacy for armed forces, boost preparedness for troops to be deployed

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Zoro Financial, a Purdue-affiliated startup, is developing a holistic banking application to help military personnel learn financial literacy skills through an interactive and incentive-based curriculum.

“We really want to help people who do not have access to traditional financial services,” said co-founder Roger Morris. “First, we want to help the military from a readiness standpoint by helping personnel achieve financial stability, but our long-term goal is to create a banking platform that could help everyone in need.”

Morris and Zak Grove started Zoro Financial after working for a financial counseling nonprofit and seeing a need for a learn-by-doing banking product. The startup will use financial technology innovations and holistic financial literacy in its mobile platform.

Young military personnel can be vulnerable to predatory financial institutions, which can affect deployment readiness. According to Fortune.com, almost two-thirds of American adults cannot pass a basic financial literacy test, and the Department of Defense reports financial instability as a threat to national security.

“We decided to focus on military after talking to my sister who is a Navy officer and hearing her feedback,” Morris said. “All of these young people are in an environment where everybody just spends, not saves. They become easy targets for predatory lenders, deceptive credit card contracts and scams.”

Grove and Morris aim to counteract these problems by developing an effective financial literacy program. Differing from traditional curricula, the startup will offer a mobile platform that rewards users for financially advantageous decisions and planning.

The Zoro Financial platform offers direct deposit, bill pay reminders, savings goals and spending analyses. The startup will offer a credit-building debit card boosting credit with lessened risk. This mobile platform does not require users to interface with every function; however, those who are proactive with their finances will receive more rewards.

The startup, which plans to pilot its first prototype early next year, received entrepreneurial guidance from Purdue Foundry@WestGate, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator at the WestGate@Crane Technology Park adjacent to NSA Crane.

“We are a mission-driven company and our mission is what motivates us,” Morris said. “We really think that Zoro Financial can change people’s lives, making it easier, more accessible and less stressful for people to manage their money.”

About Purdue@WestGate

Purdue@WestGate is an economic development accelerator formed by the partnership between WestGate Authority, Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane), Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation. The Indiana-based collaboration combines strengths to advance educational, research and development and technology commercialization across Indiana and elsewhere. Purdue@WestGate offers tools for startups, entrepreneurial experts, programs, educational opportunities and workforce development to help southern Indiana businesses grow and thrive. For more information about the resources available to businesses, visit Purdue@WestGate.

Writer: Kelsey Henry, 765-588-3342, kehenry@prf.org

Purdue Research Foundation Contact: Tom Coyne, 765-558-1044, tjcoyne@prf.org

Sources: Roger Morris, rmorris@risefi.com


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