Gunnar Lovelace wants every customer of Good Money to own Good Money.

In 15 years, Gunnar expects customers to own 75% of the banking startup because as he sees it, the way banks currently operate is “the definition of insanity.”

Now, giving away your fledgling company to its customers is not the typical approach you’d expect from a startup founder, but Gunnar is anything but typical. He’s on a mission to change the world — and he’s doing it through his businesses like Good Money. 

Case in point, Gunnar’s first massive success: Thrive Market.

Costco meets Whole Foods

After selling a string of successful software companies, Gunnar set his sights on a problem close to his heart.

Food. Particularly access to healthy food. In his own words: 

“Growing up poor with a single mom and a Latino immigrant,” Gunnar tells Forbes, “I’ve wanted to do something about the limited access to healthy foods my whole life.”

Nearly 85% of American families want to buy organic, healthy groceries, but can’t afford them. And many live in rural areas called “food deserts” where the nearest high-quality grocery store can be miles away. 

The vision for Gunnar was simple: Sell organic groceries online through a membership. Á la Costco meets Whole Foods.

Gunnar and Nick
Gunner Lovelace and Thrive Market co-founder Nick Green. Courtesy of Thrive Market

But when Gunnar and his co-founder Nick Green pitched the members-only online  organic grocer, they hit headwinds almost immediately. 

Back in 2015, Whole Foods was the biggest name in organic groceries, a market estimated to be worth $100 billion at the time. 

Investing groups didn’t believe a startup like Thrive Market could compete, much less meet the team’s ambitious goal of $10 million in first-year revenue.

Landing page for Thrive Market
An OG landing page from Thrive Market, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

200 Helping Hands Wallets

Q: So what do you do when 30 investing firms won’t back you? 

A: You call Wellness Mama. 

After being turned down time and time again by established investing firms in Silicon Valley, Gunnar and Nick opted for a more non-conventional approach. 

The health and wellness blogger Wellness Mama was an early fan in Thrive Market and after showcasing a beta product offering to her more than 6 million fans Thrive Market became an immediate hit.

A Thrive Market post from Wellness Mama

Gunnar and Nick recognized the power in a grassroots campaign with bloggers and influencers. So they hit the road (or web) to recruit other successful bloggers and smaller, individual investors who shared their vision of helping millions of families gain access to healthy foods. 

This personal pitch worked. In no time, big-name investors within the wellness community like Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Jillian Michaels hopped on board. 

Soon after launch, the doubters were silenced further. 

“We ended up beating our second-year projections during our first year in business doing $45 million in revenue over the first 12 months,” Gunnar tells Grocery Dive. 

Most recently, Thrive Market brought its total funding raised to over $160m and clocked in more than $200k worth of goods shipped per day from it’s 5 million registered subscribers. 

Back to Ba(nk)sics

With Thrive Market’s success under his belt, Gunnar still wasn’t satisfied. His next and most recent target: Banking. 

In December of 2018, Gunnar launched Good Money, a bank owned by its customers, not bankers. 

By banking with Good Money, customers gain ownership of the company over time. (It’s similar to a credit union, but for profit.) 

On the website, you can see exactly where your ownership in Good Money will be if, say, the company is worth what Apple is today — oh, and of course moonshot status.

Invite 5 friends, wait 15 years. Viola! Courtesy of Goodmoney.com.

With $30m in Series A funding, Good Money is well on its way to bringing banking back from the dark ages. 

Gunnar also wants to bring the same grassroots energy that proved to be so successful with Thrive Market to Good Money enlisting the help of small financial bloggers and influencers.

Want to learn how Gunnar excites his investors and grows hi companies? 

You’re in luck. 

He’s sharing his tactics and learnings at this year’s Hustle Con, December 2nd and 3rd at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. 

You can pick up tickets and learn more about the event here.