A HOMEGROWN mobile app is on its way to becoming the first to break into the United States with an Americanised version - powered by funds raised through crowdfunding, say its creators.
The app, WhyMoolah, is a financial-literacy game designed by local startup PlayMoolah, which was co-founded by Audrey Tan and Lee Min Xuan.
In the game, which is played through an avatar, a player makes the kind of financial decisions a young professional here would typically make, ranging from daily expenses to buying a home.
Launched last November and backed by DBS Remix, WhyMoolah has since had more than 25,000 downloads. Its creators reckon they are ready to create a version for the American market - and plan on getting there by raising funds through the Internet for their cause.
Aside from speaking to investors who have indicated interest in collaboration, PlayMoolah got on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo last week to launch a fund-raising drive lasting till June 26. Their target: US$30,000, which will go into creating the US version of the app.
With just over 20 days to go, they are a third of the way there.
Ms Tan said: "Using Indiegogo for this US venture is one of the fastest ways to engage and rally the local community around WhyMoolah.
This enables us to get feedback, co-create with the community and have it vote on ideas."
She added that if more than the target amount is raised, the PlayMoolah team can look into adding more features to the game based on its experience with the Singapore version of the app. To make WhyMoolah as realistic and relevant as possible, the US version will be tailored to explore the financial lives of its target audience - young American adults, many of whom are saddled with debts in the form of student loans.
Unlike in Singapore, where financial decisions tend to be made post-graduation for young working adults, major decisions - on student loans, for example - are made by teenagers in America.
Aside from the difference in target audience, the US version of the app will have to factor in the US cost of living, tax rates and size of debts.
For instance, the US version will have to feature the US 401k retirement plan instead of Singapore's social security savings plan, the Central Provident Fund.
The PlayMoolah team will also need to bridge other differences between Singapore and the US.
Ms Tan noted that Singapore's market is small, and the banking sector here is dominated by only a few players; in the US, the market is several times larger, but the banking and education sectors are fragmented.
The team also has to configure a platform that serves different US communities, each with different needs.
The two co-founders of PlayMoolah are no strangers to the US context. In fact, the idea for their startup was born there in 2008, while they were on an overseas exchange programme and internship in Silicon Valley.
They set up their company in 2010; in late 2011, they launched their first product in the US - an online portal imparting financial literacy to children through games. This was launched in Singapore only later.
It appears WhyMoolah will take a reverse trajectory: its US debut is slated for January next year, a little more than a year after its debut here.