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This startup will make sure your kids won't grow up spoiled

·West Coast Correspondent

Tanya Van Court left her illustrious two decade-long career as a media executive at ESPN and Nickelodeon to start a company that she believes will help parents give better gifts to their kids.

“The career change wasn’t my idea. It was prompted by my daughter,” she says.

A few weeks before her ninth birthday, Van Court’s daughter told her that she only wanted two presents from her family and friends -- an investment account and a bike. Van Court thought to herself, “That would be amazing if you actually got those, but you’ll most likely get a whole lot of stuff that you won’t ever use or need.”

It was her lightbulb moment: Shouldn’t we be giving kids these great goals instead of more and more stuff?

So in December 2015, she launched Sow, a platform that aims to help children spend, share or save money wisely. It’s an interactive online savings account that gives kids the chance to dictate what kinds of presents they want. Every kid has his or her own Sow profile and each has a personalized link they can share with others.

Kids can sow their money in three distinct ways: save for college or an investment account; donate to a specific cause or charity; or spend it on something on their wishlist.

The company currently has 600 accounts, and it’s free to join. Van Court has raised $550,000 in funding to date. Though the company is targeting children and young adults, Van Court says “sowers” range in age from 14 months to 42 years old.

Typical savings accounts can be a bit mysterious to children -- parents tuck the money away and their kids might hear about it but they don’t have access to it. Van Court says Sow is different in that it’s a tool that teaches kids, in a transparent way, the value of money. “We want kids to understand what it takes to bring all of those gifts to their home,” she says.

And sure, your average 8-year-old will likely ask for the latest American Girl doll or a drone but Van Court says she’s found that kids can be thoughtful and philanthropic, donating their money to other children in Haiti or saving for books. “We’re not saying that [kids] shouldn’t want anything; we’re just suggesting that they shouldn’t want everything,” she says.

Van Court’s daughter has already accrued $222 of her $10,000 goal to go to Stanford (her mom’s alma mater) and is ready to hit the streets of Brooklyn with her brand new bike.

Do you think material gifts are a waste of money? Tweet me at @melodyhahm or let us know in the comments below.

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