Saving for a Sunny Day: UVA Darden Grad’s Startup Envisions a Better Way to Save

By Jay Hodgkins

Growing up an only child in an immigrant family, University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumnus Sid Pailla (MBA ’15) saw firsthand how important finances are to the life of a family.

Pailla — who is a quadruple Hoo, having received a bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, and Ph.D. from the University — recently shared on Darden’s Alumni Spotlight how he hopes to use the advantages he gained at Darden to promote financial inclusivity for American workers through his startup, Sunny Day Fund.

While at Darden, he founded Sunny Day Fund, a platform for emergency and personal savings to be provided to workers as an employment benefit. Employees receive an FDIC-insured account they can use to save for emergencies or planned expenses, while matched contributions from their employers provide a better return compared to a traditional savings account.

Compared to retirement funds, Pailla considers Sunny Day Fund’s short-term savings model better suited to the realities of work and personal finance today. The employee receives support to build up liquid assets and lessen their financial stress, which in turn boosts their productivity. In contrast to a 401(k), there is no paperwork and no penalty to make withdrawals from a Sunny Day Fund account. Meanwhile, the employer can use this unconventional benefit to attract and keep talent during a time when voluntary turnover — with all the associated costs to hire and train new talent — is on the rise in America.

Pailla, who went full-time on Sunny Day Fund in early 2019, had just left his job at Accenture and was raising a friends-and-family round when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It felt like the worst possible time to be taking a big swing.

But he realized that the pandemic was proving the need for savings that would be accessible on both a rainy day and a sunny day. The volatility of the economy was escalating the urgency of his mission at the same time that it delayed his plans to achieve it, and his circumstances began to seem just as much an opportunity as they were an obstacle. After all, if not now, when?

Read the full profile on Darden’s Alumni Spotlight.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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