Billie Simmons: a banking platform for LGBTQI + members and businesses
Ladder is a publishing platform for various picture books and online programs whose mission is to empower over one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews from our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders, who advance the UN SDGs.
Hi folks, it’s Spiffy, back on planet earth with an eye on the entrepreneurs making the world a fairer place! I have an amazing interview about an entrepreneur using financial technology to impact fairness for the LGBTQI + community, businesses and allies. Today I am delighted to be sailing with Billie Simmons, co-founder and COO of Day light. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spicy: Welcome Billie! It’s so great to have the chance to chat with you! Can you start by telling us what challenges you face?
Billie: Thank you very much for having me, Spiffy! Daylight’s mission is to eradicate the LGBTQ + wealth gap and encourage our members to recognize the power of their spending to support businesses that align with their values.
Spicy: Tell me more! What motivated you to provide this service and focus on LGBTQ + communities?
Billie: As a trans woman, I’ve always been keenly aware of the extra money I have to spend to be on the same playing field as my non-LGBTQ + peers. My own experience accessing banking services in the United States opened my eyes to the failure of the system. I continue to do this work thanks to our amazing members, who often tell us how daylight has a tangible impact on their lives.
Spicy: It’s amazing, Billie. Let’s talk about fairness, how would you say that daylight helps make the world a fairer place?
Billie: Everything we do is focused on putting more money in the hands of LGBTQ + people, especially those with low incomes or who face significant barriers to equity. Sometimes this is like organizing events that promote LGBTQ + small businesses and donating all of the proceeds from the event to local welfare funds that put 99% of their donations directly into the hands of the people. people it serves, and other times it feels like building a rewards platform so we can reward our members for doing the right thing!
Spicy: It sounds pretty multi-faceted. Can you tell us about a recent initiative you are working on and what kind of impact you foresee?
Billie: We’re about to launch our ‘Walk the Walk’ feature, which rates the businesses you spend using your Daylight card based on their weird usability. We realized that many people donate money to businesses that don’t have their best interests at heart, so providing that knowledge, offering alternatives and rewarding positive changes to align your spending with your values, we empower our members to vote with their feet.
Spicy: I’m always curious about how entrepreneurs deal with failure. What about you, Billie? Can you share a moment when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What have you learned?
Billie: My first start was a total failure. It was a good idea – Yelp for Safe Spaces – but I lacked direction or focus and tried to do everything on my own. (I mean literally everything, coding, operations, marketing!) I took away several key things from this experience: the importance of engaging with the community you serve in a real and authentic way, and the importance of asking help when you need it. this. This time has been so different and I thank a lot of it to my amazing co-founders, Rob Curtis and Paul Barnes-Hoggett.
Spicy: Before closing, is there anything else important or surprising that you have learned recently?
Billie: In fact, Spiffy, I recently learned how to lift weights and squat from my younger brother, who is training to be a personal trainer. I have always had a very complicated relationship with my body, but I really enjoy learning to move and use it in new ways!
Spicy: What an experience! And what a business! It looks like you are about to disrupt financial services and technology in an incredibly positive way. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Billie, it’s been an absolute honor.
Billie Simmons (she / she) is co-founder and COO of Day light. Previously, she founded a startup to help trans and non-binary people access safe services. She has a background in marketing and software engineering at fintech-focused companies such as Techstars and the Anthemis Group. She speaks regularly on LGBT + mental health and tech initiatives and has spoken to Google, WeWork and Money2020, among others. (Nominated by Out in technology. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 9, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Illustration of Spiffy by Shreyas Navare. Follow the interviews of the founders of Spiffy who are building a fairer world here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.