If you are a parent, one of the hardest things about divorce is still having to deal with your ex over financial matters related to your children.
And according to a report from 2015, only 50.2% of all 13.6 million custodial parents in the United States had a statutory or informal child support agreement. Even in those cases, most agreements don’t cover costs beyond the basics, such as medical bills and extracurricular activities, among others.
This means that divorced parents go back and forth a lot about who pays what, how and when. Finances, if you are co-parenting, are an issue in even the most amicable divorces.
The daughter of divorced parents herself, Jacklyn Rome Onward founded in 2020 with the goal of helping divorced and separated parents manage their shared expenses more easily. Rome, who previously led new product launches at Uber and Blue Apron, said she built the app with the intention of not only alleviating parental headaches, but also stresses in the family in general. Reduce. As she can personally attest, kids also suffer a lot from being caught in the middle when their estranged parents bicker over money.
Today, Forward — formerly called Ensemble — raised $9.7 million in a Series A funding round led by Atlanta-based TTV Capital to further its mission. Lerer Hippeau, Citi Ventures, Correlation Ventures and Gingerbread Capital also participated in the financing. The Los Angeles-based startup previously $3 million in seed capital raised in March 2021.
Since then, Onward has launched a number of new features, including the ability to pay your co-parent through the platform, partial payments, and the ability to track other expenses not related to children, such as shared mortgages or phone bills.
For example, one co-parent might have taken a child to the dentist for $120. They can upload a photo of the receipt and the other co-parent will be notified to see all the details about the expense. The two can negotiate if necessary, all through the app, and settle the costs over a connection to payment providers such as Venmo or Zelle through the Onward platform.
Rome said the company has grown significantly, with nearly 100,000 installations. So far, Onward has used social media as a marketing tool, including using TikTok as a platform. By partnering with influencers who are co-parents, Rome said, the startup has increased awareness of its offerings.
Furthermore, pre-income continues. The company plans to start monetizing through “a series of” new financial products” early next year, including connected credit cards, Rome said. Later Onward could also build a paid subscription model.
Incorporating transparency into the platform has also been a priority, Rome said.
“Very often, men will say transparency is their biggest pain point — they may or may not believe the charges are legit,” she told australiabusinessblog.com. “In our app, they can view receipts and ultimately, with our cards, they can have a third party verify where each transaction took place.”
Onward’s new capital will go towards building out those products, additional testing of new marketing channels and increasing the current workforce of 10.
While there are a number of fintechs in the broader family technology, such as Greenlight, Step and Acorns, Rome believes there is a “tgreen in this market.”
“There are 50 million co-parents in the United States, and they represent a huge, huge market that hasn’t been served yet,” she said. As to why, Rome speculated that “it might be considered a little less sexy of a market, or those who’ve experienced it are less likely to find a business.”
TTV Capital doubled its investment in Onward, with partner Mark Johnson describing the app as “brilliant in its simplicity.”
“Jacklyn and her team really listened to the co-parents who use the app – and did their best to roll out new improvements and features based on their needs,” he wrote via email. “We are proud to support Onward as they scale to help even more co-parents navigate their unique financial situations with ease.”