Discover more from Everywhere VC
Founders Everywhere: JP Thompson
JP Thompson is the co-founder and CEO of Z1, a Brazilian neobank focused on the Gen Z population.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Brazil has an estimated unbanked population of 60 million people - and that’s just for adults. There are also millions of teens who want and need access to financial services, especially since many start earning their own income from a young age. Gen Z is already the largest generation today, representing about 30% of the Brazilian and world population. Z1 is the leading Brazilian Gen Z focused neobank, providing access to financial services for this generation.
Z1’s co-founder and CEO, João Pedro (JP) Thompson is a second time founder, having built an education start-up previously. He’s joined by co-founders Thiago Waddington Achatz, Mateus Craveiro and Sophie Secaf, all coming from top companies in the region. JP tells us all about how Z1 is tailored to Gen Z and their plans for the future.
What is Z1’s Northstar?
Our mission is to open paths and financial possibilities for Gen Z in Brazil. This is the second generation (after Millennials) that has an outlook of earning less money or at least not having the same purchasing power as their parents. By giving access to financial services independently from their parents, we believe we can serve our users from the beginning of their financial journey all the way into adulthood. Essentially, we want to be a person's first and last bank.
What sets Z1 apart?
Differently from other solutions in the market, we made the explicit decision that we weren't going to allow any parental control. Our focus is on the financial independence and autonomy of young people, and not the micromanaging of parents who in many cases aren't the provider of the funds (many people start working at a young age in Brazil). That decision helped us gain the trust of our end user, which is critical if we want to keep them as clients into adulthood and sparked our initial growth.
As a side note, we also understand underage users are still learning about personal finances, so our product already has natural guardrails where users can’t spend more than they have - they get a prepaid card and there’s no possibility of overdraft. For teens younger than 16, they do need their parents' explicit consent, but parents can only see their balance, and none of their transactions.
How does Z1 inspire “customer love”?
We understand our customers better than anyone else and I think that's our superpower. As young people who are frequently looked down upon by adults, they appreciate feeling seen and value being treated as equals. We’re the biggest fintech in Brazil (and one of the biggest in the world) on Tik Tok, which is the main social app for Gen Zers. It shows how much customers appreciate our approach and that our financial services are made specifically for them.
Tell us about some milestones Z1 crushed.
We just announced our $10.4 million Series A extension, which is also when Everywhere Ventures joined our journey. We’ll use the proceeds from this raise to expand upon our initial focus on teenagers into the young adult market, through new products that make sense in this more mature phase of a customer's financial journey, the main one being credit. We’re also going through the process of internalizing a lot of the banking infrastructure that we had outsourced initially, which will give us more control over our core product and improve our unit economics.
How has your background influenced you as a founder?
I started my career in finance, working in investment banking on M&A transactions and seeing them go through their IPOs in Brazil. The work was interesting and I spent almost 4 years there, but I knew really quickly that I wanted to actually build something meaningful that had my fingerprint on it. I felt like working in an industry like investment banking or consulting could be personally fulfilling, but I wouldn't impact that many people or solve relevant problems. Although I never thought I would be an entrepreneur until I was 24-25, I felt it was my calling to try and tackle at least one of the many problems that Brazil faces as an emerging economy - one of them being access to financial services. In any case, there were many things that I took from my experience in finance and investment banking that have helped me in my founder journey, such as a grasp of financial and legal concepts that I've seen other founders struggle with, and a holistic and strategic understanding of my business.
Thanks for reading Everywhere VC! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.