Lorne Jenkins

Co-Founder of Mini Money Management

Lorne A Jenkins is the co-founder and CEO of Mini Money Management, an app that helps parents and teachers educate children on financial literacy using everyday experiences. For parents, the app helps make parenting fun and easy, while instilling important lessons like self motivation, responsibility and financial awareness. For teachers the app is an effective classroom management tool creating an engaging classroom environment while meeting state and national financial literacy standards.

He graduated from Campbell University with a bachelor’s degree in economics while running division 1 track and field as a team captain. He then graduated from The University of East London with a masters degree in finance. He worked in foreign exchange as a broker in London, but decided to leave the finance world to pursue his passion to teach children the importance of smart money habits. Mini Money Management came from a game that Ellen Ross, his mother and co-founder, played with him as a child. Ellen established a household economy where Lorne and his sister would receive a salary every week and then have to pay for expenses like rent, laundry, utilities, and meals. They would save up their money and do extra chores to pay for fun activities like playing video games or swimming. The most famous saying around the house was “Gimme a Dollar” when Ellen would assess fines to Lorne and his sister for undesirable behaviors. There was no more yelling, grounding, or other ineffective punishment methods. Lorne turned a childhood game into an app to help parents and teachers give the same lessons to their children that have impacted his life so greatly.

Where did the idea for Mini Money Management come from?

The idea came from a game that my mom played with me and my sisters as children. We asked her to go out to eat every day because we didn’t understand that it cost more to go out to eat than it did to stay in. She got fed up with it, and posted on the refrigerator job postings for a son and daughter. We had to complete applications, interview for the positions, she called our references (who had nothing but great things to say) and we eventually were awarded the positions. This new job came with a salary of $40 (fake money) per week. The catch came when we had to pay for household expenses such as rent, laundry, transportation, and of course meals. It cost $1 to eat at home and $3 to eat out. My mother’s claim to fame is that by the time we got to the end of the summer she asked us if we wanted to go out to eat. Our response “No mommy, that’s way too expensive”. Mini Money Management and the household economy was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

At this point there is no such thing as a typical day. I handle all of the responsibilities from designing and planning the app, sales, marketing, HR, and everything in between. A mentor of mine told me to figure out where the biggest fires in the company are, and fix those. One week I can spend working on designing the app, while the next two weeks are spent marketing on Facebook or other outlets.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I really try to get all of my ideas out of my head and onto a piece of paper (or a google doc). I then see where they fit with the direction that we are trying to move the company and I’ll pick the one I have the most interest in and just start to work on it. There are a lot of moving parts, but I just work to fit these new ideas into what we are doing.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am extremely excited about the trend where teachers are using more and more creative ways to teach their students. Experiential learning is a trend that is catching on in the educational world and it is refreshing to see teachers adapting to different learning styles and technology available to them.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

When I put my mind to it, I can focus on a project and see it all the way through, from idea to implementation. As a former division 1 athlete, I know that talk is cheap, and what really matters is putting the work in so that you can see the results.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The advice that I would give my younger self is to accept that it’s okay to be different. I struggled at times feeling that I didn’t fully fit in with my peers, and I would change my tendencies to match theirs. When in reality I should have been more confident in my thoughts, beliefs, and habits.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I personally believe that the investment world is not sustainable. Companies are focusing more on raising money than making a company that is profitable and self sustaining. There is always a place for investment, but there needs to be good business fundamentals in place that don’t always exist.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take breaks. I try to work no more than 6 hour days, and completely unplug on the weekends. Of course it doesn’t always workout like that, but I believe that your quality of life will directly impact the success of your business. It isn’t healthy or beneficial to work 10-12 hour days. Go exercise, spend time with family and friends, or just take a nap. Find something to get away from the business, because it’s a marathon, not a sprint

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I try to stay very plugged in with the industry. There are so many interesting products and niche people in every market that a lot of people never think to access. For me personally it has been partnering with financial literacy authors to help spread the word.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We finished our pilot in schools in March of this year (2020), and the week that we were ready to push it out to schools COVID-19 hit and suddenly there was no school. We had to rework our technology so that parents could use it in their homes, and now we have a totally different portal for parents to use the app as well as one for teachers.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We are going to build a portal so that we can partner with large institutions (banks, credit unions, insurance agents) and they can purchase subscriptions in bulk to give away to their customers. A lot of institutions are always looking for different ways to add value to their customers, as well as encourage new customers to sign up with them. If we can do it the correct way, they can bring on new customers while teaching their children about the importance of financial literacy

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently purchased a pair of true wireless earbuds. I absolutely love them because I can work out with them, but also they help me focus when I need to sit down and crank out some work

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I have been using Trello a lot to keep track of my tasks as well as making sure everyone in the company knows what we need to be working on. I will set up different projects for myself and my coworkers to work on, we can set due dates and which ones have priority

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson. It is a book that talks about the migration of black people from the south, and I think we all need to learn about our history from first hand accounts.

What is your favorite quote?

Be so good they can’t ignore you – Cal Newport

Key Learnings:

  • Mini Money Management is a financial literacy app that helps parents and teachers educate their children on the importance of financial literacy using everyday experiences
  • MMM came from a childhood game that Lorne’s co-founder and mother Ellen Ross played with him and his sisters as children
  • There is a balance between hard work and taking time for yourself to recover