Started in the office, now they here. This is the story of two inner-city kids who grew up focused on finance and are now taking their culture to Wall Street.
Coming up in a single parent home isn’t easy, especially when finances are on the line. Money is tight, food isn’t cheap, and clothes are expensive. And it’s hard to learn how to save money when there’s no one there to teach you. Then, add the usual childhood teasing to the mix (because let’s face it, kids can be mean), and the need to fit in by wearing the right clothes and sneakers can seem like a necessity. For culture enthusiasts Luke Bailey and Jackie Liao, the story is no different. As a result of how they grew up, both men made conscious decisions to work in finance to help set themselves up. But a life in corporate America can only go so far when you have a passion for creativity and an undying love for your people secretly burning inside. Thus, the two decided to change course last October, leaving their big-time bank jobs to build a digital place where more people like them become financially educated in ways they understand, with the goal of making them all monetarily independent. That’s where Neon Money Club comes in.
“Coming up as a kid, me, Jackie, we come from very similar backgrounds, and we didn’t have sh-t,” says Bailey, co-founder and CEO of NMC. “I got into banking at 19. Before that, I was rapping. I was producing. I was on stage. [And then] I found out my daughter was on the way… and it’s like, ‘Oh, crap. I’ve got to get a real job.’ I almost cried going into banking because I didn’t want to do that. I had to cut my braids off. It was real. And my dad told me, he said, ‘Luke, you’re a creative. Don’t lose that. Let that be your secret.’ And it’s always been my secret for 18 years.”
But now, the secret’s out because Bailey and Liao are launching a modernized FinTech experience that will marry peoples’ passions with the real need to make and invest money. To accomplish that, Neon Money Club helps users invest in the things that interest them most, from pop culture to sneakers, sports, and more.
The philosophy is simple: “Ownership is the new drip.” That means copping stuff like the latest custom sneaker drop is cool, but owning stock in the sneaker brand that makes them is cooler. And Neon Money Club is here to teach pop culture’s digital generation how to invest and grow their finances while buying into the things that speak to them.
“18-35 year olds make up 92% of the streetwear market, but we only own 1% of the US stock market.” says Liao, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of NMC. “We’re not here to stop people from buying what they love, we’re here to make it clear that you can also own the companies that make what you love.”
But it’s hard to participate in the stock market if you don’t know the lingo.
“People still arrive to find that they have to learn bank language from the 1920s or Crypto lingo that alienates the 99%. We’re flipping that.” says Bailey. And the Neon Money Club founders are doing it with “all the sauce,” as well as a commitment from a few high-profile investors, including Anthony Saleh, Humble Lukanga, Jason Mayden, and Michael Tubbs, in a $4 million seed round led by Point72 Ventures.
“We translate complex concepts and connect them with things you already know,” Bailey continues. “Members get access to buy stocks and crypto using NMC’s signature approach. They also get access to exclusive content, rewards and drops.”
Like Jackie says, “you can get chicken and waffles everywhere,” but you only go to the spot with the special sauce. Neon Money Club is that spot.