We love getting to know brands that share our passion for helping couples grow closer together. We recently sat down with Amy Shack Egan of Bandit and Modern Rebel to talk more about her exciting new resources for couples!
For those that don't know, Modern Rebel is a Brooklyn-based wedding planning brand that breaks all the rules (in a great way) to help provide memorable moments for non-traditional, modern, and real couples.
Amy spent the last 6 years working with hundreds of couples through her successful alternative wedding planning company in NYC. After seeing the wedding industry up close, she started to ask herself: with so many wedding tools, why don't we extend the same support to our relationships?
And that was how Bandit was born.
Read on to learn more about her new platform her passion for relationships, and what she is doing to help couples stay connected by providing an affordable and accessible way to jump into relationship health!
Q: Can you tell us what Bandit is?
Bandit is a digital platform that makes it easier than ever to manage, plan, and invest in your romantic relationship. That's the bare bones. What is it in practice? Right now it exists in a beta form as a website that people can go to. They can sign up for it and add their partner. Our free feature is called the Digital Dashboard.
In the digital dashboard, you can look back at the past by building a relationship timeline together. You can manage lists, both fun lists like “dream travel destinations” or practical lists like “to-dos before the baby arrives.” All directly through the platform. You can also plan for the future by setting goals. With specific goal-setting exercises, there are timelines for you to set those goals and track them.
People are currently signing up for our beta version and utilizing the digital dashboard. There are also premium features available that you can pay for, such as our courses. Those are things where it may be that you are using the dashboard and you don't need active help but then you hit a big major milestone, like you are getting married and you must now plan your wedding. We have a wedding planning digital course for you. After getting engaged and you may be feeling like, “Oh, I need to plan a wedding now” which is where you might need a little help from our courses. We also offer a premarital counseling digital course, as well as a financial course for people who are merging their finances.
Bandit is all about making it easier for couples to invest in their relationships.
Q: Why did you choose to call it Bandit?
For two reasons, my first business is called Modern Rebel, which is an alternative wedding planning company. I've worked with over two hundred couples in six years in New York City, planning the coolest weddings ever. And I've always felt like I've had this rebellious streak, you know. I’ve got to keep that going.
So I liked the name Bandit and I also liked the idea of the word itself - banding things together. What do you think of when you think about what ties us all together? It's relationships.
Q: How does Bandit work?
Right now, the Beta is just online, you can even access it on mobile. But it's only website accessible, there's no app yet. Couples can go to the website, and they can sign up for free. And like I said, they can add their partner, which we recommend because you get about ten times more out of the platform if you add your partner. Because then, they can start playing on the dashboard, or adding content to your timeline, or start adding lists.
My husband and I have found that everyone's dashboards look a little bit different, which is so cool. My husband and I have practical lists on our dashboard and we also have fun lists. Obviously we're not going to concerts right now, but randomly the other night we were thinking, “Oh my gosh, we have to go to this concert together”. And then we're like, “There is another concert we have to see. Let's put it on our list so we don't forget!”
Because there are so many things in relationships you say you're going to do or you're going to make this investment, or that, it is so easy for things to just fall off and get forgotten. Life gets busy, right? Let's say you're thinking about starting a family, or getting married, or doing one of those sorts of major life things. A lot of times it can be hard to have that conversation. Like, when should we do that big move, or start our family? How should we do it? How do we even get started thinking about finances or time goals? In those instances, you might want to go on the dashboard and dig into the goals section.
You can have a place on your dashboard where you can pick different goals as well as set custom goals. And you can actually look at a tangible timeline for the next five years and start planning, “Should we do this then? Should we do this then?”. That's the fun work, weirdly fun work, together. In a relationship, we're already doing that in our heads quite often. But there isn't a digital version or way to do it. There's a lot of investment that happens between, “Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to be in a relationship with you!” and, “Six years too late counseling session…”, which is statistically what happens.
So, what's that middle space? I mean, you guys do that through date nights, right? That's part of the middle space. You start to feel a little crazy without a tangible list and you start feeling as if, "Oh, wait, there should be an easier way to do this together."
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Bandit?
I got married two years ago to an awesome guy who changed my life. A game-changer. I was the anti-wedding planner. You have to understand, I got into the wedding industry because I was like, “Ugh - the wedding industry is so frilly and fussy..”, but, "There are so many cool couples in the world! Why is it like this?" When I started my business, I was fresh off a breakup. All I could think of at the time was: “I don't know how I'll ever get married”.
I started meeting all these awesome couples... and then I met somebody! And then I get married! It was then I realized there are so many amazing wedding planning and organization tools. When you get engaged - you have eight million articles to learn from, and there are so many different apps and technology for you to choose from to plan.
Then you get married and you're like, “Hey, what is there for us?”. There is truthfully, not a lot. I was hearing this from couples that I was working with, and I was also experiencing it in my own life. Being sort of the entrepreneur that I am, I was like, ‘“This is ridiculous. Someone needs to work on this!”. I started talking to couples and it started the conversation with them. I had round tables with them, “How do you invest in your relationship? What does it look like? How do you plan for your future?”. That's how it started. And that fueled our journey.
I think it comes back to this, there were two questions that we would ask couples in user testing sessions and initial conversations before we even built this technology. The two questions were, "Do you believe that your relationship health is integral to your overall well-being and overall health?" Everybody would say, “Yeah…”. There usually wasn't much hesitation between that question and that answer. Then I would ask them, “What percentage of your time are you investing in your relationship health?” And then their face would go all sour. Sometimes they would say, “Very little?”, but most of the time people just didn't know how to answer the question.
Now with COVID-19, they spend the majority of their time with their partner, this relationship that they, of course, are investing in. And they couldn't even articulate how they were investing in their relationship? That to me was part of the problem. And we set out to solve it.
Q: How do you feel Bandit will benefit couples in their relationships?
People are already investing. They're just not doing it in a way that's modern and easy. It's like, “Oh, I posted a note here and I texted him to remind him three times a day of this”. I think Bandit will benefit couples because it provides a tool to make it easier to do what they're kind of already doing.
Hopefully, we'll have an app and you'll be using it. You'll be saying to me, “Oh, I know how much I invest in my relationship. I can see it!”. Because so much of the reason that people end up getting divorced or just disconnecting is that they don't realize the investment that they're making actively. A lot of times it's similar to going on a walk every day. If you go on that walk every day, you'll feel better, you'll feel like "I'm healthy and I'm doing well." Similarly, you're going on walks in your relationship all the time, everyday, but you don't have any way to track your steps.
You’re left constantly feeling like, “Am I investing?”. You are! I hope that the benefit is that couples see their active investment, and they also see the results of what it's doing for their family and for their relationship.
Q: What is on the horizon for Bandit?
We are in deep user testing for all of February. It was a conscious move that we made, so we're really lucky. My co-founder, Eugene, is a coder and I have some experience running a business and marketing. With our collective experience we don't have many overhead costs, which is great for us. That means we don't need to focus all our efforts on rushing out to raise a bunch of money through a venture capitalist. Instead, we're focusing on listening to our customers right now and listening to couples about what they want from us.
February is about talking to people to figure out: "What feature are you most excited about? What are you not excited about?" or, "Could you imagine this as part of this feature?". And so now I have a bunch of ideas to run with. But I don't want to share too many of them. We'll see which ideas see the light of day. I think pivoting to an app is the next step along with a core product offering. That's what we're focused on currently and we are so excited to share more soon.
Bandit is a resource for couples that makes it easy (and affordable) to invest in their relationships at any stage! Want to learn more about Bandit or Amy? You can find all the information you need, or sign up today, on their website!
Amy spent the last 6 years working with hundreds of couples through her successful alternative wedding planning company in NYC, Modern Rebel. After seeing the wedding industry up close, she started to ask herself: with so many wedding tools, why don't we extend the same support to our relationships?
Want to be a user tester for Bandit? Email the founders at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch!