Startup Stories: Neighborly Municipal Bonds

Neighborly Logo

Neighborly takes the popular principles of crowdfunding and applies it to the municipal bond market. We spoke to Neighborly CMO Sean Connolly to find out more. Essentially, “Neighborly is the community investment marketplace” Sean told us. Neighborly simultaneously makes it easier for people to invest in communities and lowers the costs for the issuers of municipal bonds.

Sean explained that originally, the business launched as a donation based crowdfunding platform for civic infrastructure projects. “We’ve since developed into a full municipal bond marketplace with an MVP launching this fall” Sean told us. With this in mind, we asked Sean what makes this business so unique. “As a fintech startup, our unique approach is our technology and our team. We’re using the techniques and practices of crowdfunding to make it easy and fun to invest in your favorite places.” Sean went on to explain that another of the key contributors to the success of Neighborly is the team. “Our team is comprised of brilliant developers, civic geeks, and a bond broker dealer with years of expertise.” As Sean himself put it, this is the team who can really “bring the muni bonds into the 21st century.”

The Origin of Neighborly

Neighborly on Mobile

Sean explained that the idea for this business came from a conversation over breakfast between two of the founding members. “The discussion centered around taxes, bonds, crowdfunding, and how you could directly affect the development of the projects and places you cared about most”. This conversation took place in early 2012 and only a short time later, Neighborly was able to launch. Sean explained, “We were able to launch a product…thanks to a brilliant team of Brazilian web developers who created an open source project for crowdfunding.” Sean went on to explain that this became the foundation for Neighborly. “We based Neighborly off of that project which allowed us to get up and running much quicker than if we built it from the ground up.”

With such a clear path from idea conception to the launch of Neighborly, we asked Sean what advice he would give to someone with a business idea. Sean’s advice was simple; “Make sure the idea is worth pursuing in the sense that it serves a purpose greater than simply making money”. Sean also explained how this applies to Neighborly, “Our internal motivation is to do well by doing good.” Whilst Sean is not against financial success, he explained that the founders and the team at Neighborly want to get there by “doing good within the communities we serve.”

The perfect work environment

Clearly such a goal is an admirable one, but one which will require a lot of work. With this in mind we asked Sean what makes the perfect work environment. “The ideal work environment is having the full team in one place” Sean believes. “For the longest time, we’ve worked remotely with half our team and we’ll soon have nearly everyone together.” With everything appearing to be moving into position for a great future, we asked Sean what Neighborly has planned. “The future is bright! We’re determined to keep building Neighborly to help people across the country get back to their roots and do well for themselves by doing good for their communities.”

Finally, we asked Sean about the most satisfying moment in business for him so far, Sean explained that the best feeling comes from “pitching the idea to somebody who totally gets it.” The reason this is so good, is because “it confirms that it’s an idea worth pursuing.”