PennyOwl Shay_kids insideAn Irish start-up that has created an app to teach children about money has raised $1.3m (€1.2m) in seed funding from Irish and American investors, writes Gavin Daly.

PennyOwl, founded by Seamus Matthews, a former executive at Cisco, has been backed by Silicon Valley Bank and Dick Fontaine, a former chief executive of GameStop, while Enterprise Ireland is also investing in the firm.

Matthews said the PennyOwl app would launch in America in June. Parents can link a bankcard to the app and give their children pocket money, which can be saved or spent in an online store created by PennyOwl. The app will also feature content to teach children and parents about money. Matthews said the company was also in talks with a US bank about offering savings accounts.

PennyOwl was inspired by Matthews’ children, pictured, and their experience of being asked to spend money on apps online.

“Children are prompted to spend money sooner these days, so they have to learn about money sooner,” he said.

He set up PennyOwl in 2012 and last year took part in a four-month start-up programme run by MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank. Matthews said the company had a continuing relationship with MasterCard, and was in talks with banks and big retailers.

The company is already in talks with funders about further funding of more than $5m. “We could be going back to the market for $10m-$20m in 12 months’ time,” said Matthews.

“We are building a consumer brand. I think we have a shot at something really big.”

PennyOwl’s first backers included Kevin Neary and Paul Hennessy, who sold the Gamesworld chain to GameStop.