Susan Langer is an observer, planner, connector, life-long learner and a lover of people. She is also the CEO and Founder of Live.Give.Save, the only mobile solution that uses your everyday spending to help you give to causes you care about and save for your future. Susan is another perfect example of Minnesota women entrepreneurs that are blazing trails for the future. We are pleased to share her journey as the James J. Hill Center continue to celebrate Women’s History Month with amazing Minnesota women.
What is your Business and how did your entrepreneurial journey begin? Live.Give.Save. (LGS) is the first all-in-one mobile platform to empower and reward consumers to spend wisely, boost retirement savings and increase giving with one-touch simplicity. Our vision is to create a fiscally fit society by using the inertia of consumer spending habits to inspire good – for self and others – today and tomorrow. We like to say we’re the FitBit® of personal finance. The concept was born out of my travels to Africa in 1995 and discovering the ground-breaking concept of micro-credit, making access to finance approachable, inclusive and empowering to micro-entrepreneurs in the developing world. The concept of making micro-payments to achieve goals struck me as a way to offer US consumers a new way forward for saving for retirement and giving to the causes they care about … without changing their lifestyle. I was marketing co-branded credit cards for First Bank (now US Bank) enticing cardholders to increase usage through points and frequent flyer miles. Why not entice and reward folks to save for a secure future and help others in need? Micro-savings + Micro-giving = Macro-Impact.
What do you want people to know about you and your business and what sets it apart? We believe that every person has a purpose, and that purpose drives our relationships, choices and behaviors. How we choose to manage our money reflects our priorities. Our priorities and actions today will determine the overall health and well-being of our future. When we have ready-access to relevant, actionable knowledge, we will make wiser, more satisfying financial decisions. And, we believe we will measurably transform our financial future – and that of others – when we live, give and save with purpose.
Apps like Acorns, Digit, Mint and others have made good attempts to help consumers better save and manage their personal finances through spending, yet, each have missed the mark in some way and often by simply incorporating traditional methods within new technology. Digit is the exception. What makes us different is that no one is including “giving” within their offering. We are. Our model is designed around the philosophy of decision, action and impact. Our users will be part of a community where they will experience the impact of their decisions and actions on society. Finally, our patent-pending technology and socially-driven mobile platform builds toward a powerful branded data asset that will offer highly predictable data, providing more relevant, timely and valuable knowledge to the marketplace.
What or who has made the biggest impact on your entrepreneurial career so far? Is it nature or nurture that makes one an entrepreneur? Probably a little of both in my case. My late grandfather, Svend Sorensen, would be described today as a serial entrepreneur. I tagged along with him everywhere. My father and uncle took over one of his businesses and my brother another. I was raised on taking risks. My corporate experience taught me the fundamentals of planning, management and the significance of measuring impact … always. One of the most influential leadership books I read was Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan and the importance of distributing equal power among people, strategy and operations.
How does your entrepreneurial spirit contribute to the Twin Cities Business Ecosystem and Community? I commute to the Twin Cities weekly for meetings with advisers, investors and prospective strategic partners. The technology scene is strong and thriving. There are endless opportunities to attend or participate in events the help shape, inspire and challenge thinking. I love it. James J. Hill has played a pivotal role in introducing me to the start-up culture. From presenting at 1 Million Cups and attending its many thought-leader panels, I have richly benefited from the proactive resources and seemingly infinite networking opportunities.
What has been the largest hurdle and / or success you have experienced as an entrepreneur? I am a people person. I love meeting, listening to and learning from people. It has been a tremendous gift to meet all the amazing knowledgeable, highly-caffeinated, young entrepreneurs and sage mentors within the start-up community. It truly is a culture unto itself. Never dull. That said, while I’ve had good success raising funds in my previous careers – for-profit and non-profit – this has been my greatest challenge, mystery and opportunity. So, I keep my ears perked and my eyes wide open to make sure I keep learning, growing and improving.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs just getting out of gate? You will be challenged, stretched, encouraged and discouraged at every level – and oftentimes within the same day. When you think you can’t take one more “No”, there it is. AHHHH! Yet, all it takes is one “Yes”, or an itty-bitty win, and you’re back in the game shaking those pom-pom’s. So, keep the faith, remain focused and be intentional in surrounding yourself with individuals who inspire and feed your mind, body and soul … because you will need to maintain mental, physical and spiritual strength to get through the doubters, the nay-sayers, the silence, the what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-NOW moments. I often recite my favorite bible verse to keep me sane: “Be joyful always, pray continually and be thankful in all circumstances …” It always helps calm my sagging spirit and put things into a new perspective.
What is it about Minnesota and how has it managed to keep you here? Live.Give.Save. was founded out of the Red Wing Ignite accelerator. We have been hugely blessed by the support we’ve received. We are launching our beta in the coming weeks and have literally had the community wrap its arms around us and say, “How can we help?” Red Wing Shoe, the Red Wing Credit Union and the Red Wing YMCA all raised their hand in support to help us prove our concept. When I asked the three beta partners what success looked like for them, their collective response was how they wanted to be part of bringing something good for society out of Red Wing and helping make it big. Together, we will inspire a new generation to live, give and save with purpose. I’m not going anywhere. Visit the James J. Hill Center every Wednesday from 9AM to 10AM for 1 Million Cups and hear from some of Minnesota’s most interesting up and coming entrepreneurs. 2 pitches – 1 hour – free coffee – great networking. We hope to see you soon at jjhill.org.