Jess Molina  is a storyteller. That’s just who she is – a 20 something editor turned actor and TV host, chronic oversharer on the internet, flatlay enthusiast, pasta eater, writer, and fairytale believer from New Zealand. And that’s just her night job.

By day, she’s a cool corporate, helping bring stories to life through her unique brand of storytelling. Somewhere in there she manages to relax and live her best life eating all the food, staying up late to interview celebrities LA time, and sharing her ‘Instagram’ life.

This week she is writing a series of blog posts in the led up to our NZ Startup Bootcamp:

This one is for anyone who's ever wished financial education was part of the core curriculum we learnt at school. My relationship with money is forever a work in progress and every now and again I wonder if I formed healthier habits with it had I learnt more money skills while I was at school.

Enter Banqer, a financial education platform that provides a hands-on environment for teachers and students to get curious, creative, and ultimately confident with money. It's such an innovative concept that's practical and actually makes a difference in the way the future generation look at finances. Best of all, it's 100% free to Primary & Intermediate schools and is already being used by 70,000+ Australasian kids.

Today's interview is with the very cool, very talented Marc McHardy, co-founder and lead design at Banqer. We chat about his love of problem solving, dumplings (because why wouldn't you talk about dumplings? They're amazing!), and taking chances.

What got you into your line of work and how did end up where you are:

I’ve always been drawn to building things, taking things apart and illustration so design was a natural choice, heading down the digital path was a no brainer for where the industry was going. I fell into web and interaction design, it seemed to be what I was good at and piqued my interest, there’s just so much problem solving in it, from understanding people to making the technology work. I was lucky to get offered a job at a design agency out of Uni, that was down to a great comms department at Waikato Uni and deciding to do a final project that was a bit different at the time. I got wrapped up in Banqer at a startup weekend in 2014 and have been involved since. I got where I am today by making great connections, by being curious about how things work, and by marrying my own interests with things that I know others will take notice of.

What are you looking forward to getting out of the NZ Startup Bootcamp?

Seeing the wide range of ideas that come out of it and the slow but steady realisation from teams that they really need to prove to the judges that they have a successful business model. Also just seeing those special teams that have a magic team dynamic where things just click.

Best thing about getting to do what you do:

Solving problems. I love being able to talk to those involved, being exposed to different points of view and life experiences, understanding the problems that are being faced and seeing how all of that can evolve into a beautiful and usable solution that you can be confident about. Without empathising and talking to the people you’re designing for you can’t truly be confident in your design.

Last book/song/or film that resonated with you and why:

Lock In by John Scalzi, it’s a really different type of sci-fi book and gets you thinking from a few perspectives you wouldn’t normally consider. And it’s just a real page turner, that guy knows how to write.

Best cure for a crap day:

Going for a run! …and then eating some dumplings and bok choy with a good beer.

Dream guests for a dinner party:

Ryan Reynolds, Matt Berninger (The National), Jessica Hische, John Scalzi.  Partly because that’s such a weird combo that the interactions would be bizarre and awkward.

Advice you’d give your younger self?

You really don’t have much to lose, take more chances.

Tips for anyone wanting to get into your industry/follow your footsteps:

Take chances, focus on making sure that the work you’re doing is something that others will take notice of or be interested in. You can be self indulgent but more often than not that’s only going to satisfy yourself.

You may not be good at sketch or illustrator or programming but those are all things you can learn, go learn them, there are so many resources out there, but also get good at listening to people, there’s a difference between listening to someone’s problems and telling someone what their problems are.

Be enthusiastic about what you do, be your own cheerleader - don’t focus on the negatives, I’ve found it really hard to do this and have had to work hard to not bring up the flaws (I perceive) in my designs to clients and colleagues, I think this is the design form of tall poppy syndrome.

Join Banqer here.

This post was created in partnership with Jess Molina.