Alexa von Tobel
This Harvard Business School Student Cut Class For Good to Pursue her Tech Start-up Dreams
Nearly 12 years ago, then a 23-year-old Harvard University graduate and student of Harvard Business School, Alexa von Tobel, had an unrelenting vision of starting a unique financial planning website that would help millions of millennial women learn to manage their money. She eventually ditched her studies to start LearnVest, sold it, and made millions in the process. Now, the 36-year-old investment guru and serial entrepreneur has set her eyes on another prize – one with a flair for philanthropy.
A former Forbes “30 Under 30” alumni and 2014 cover girl of the financial magazine, Alexa von Tobel launched LearnVest as a free website filled with financial planning tools and innovative personal finance tips specifically geared toward young women before it quickly expanded into offering personal financial planning services for everyone. Basically, the ensuing interactions between clients and consultants would be completely virtual, reducing costs and making financial planning accessible to a wider audience. For one, many here at GoGirl Worldwide Magazine can personally attest to the indispensability of LearnVest, having received the weekly newsletters loaded with savvy tips on how to successfully reach your Roth IRA and/or 401K max-out every year, stick to a budget and like it, start an emergency fund, and still have cash left over to fund passion projects and/or take a dream vacay every year. The money management mecca also published “success stories” from young women who’ve made impressive financial feats, despite the odds stacked against them, such as starting their dream business, buying a home as a single woman on a single income, or saving 100K in less than two years on a modest income. LearnVest would never disappoint its most loyal and voracious readers, as there was never a shortage of inspirational stories, tips, and services designed to help one meet their own goals of purchasing a home or attaining their dream careers.
From Start-up to Scale-up: The Legacy of LearnVest
By 2015, nearly 10,000 people were paying for financial planning directly, with an additional 25,000 receiving the essential service through a financial education program sold to employers. In March of the same year, Northwestern Mutual bought the growing tech site for a lofty $350 million, instantly making von Tobel a magazine cover-gracing, multi-millionaire, while retaining her role as CEO. The goal of the 160-year-old insurance and financial planning powerhouse was to reach an even younger audience while becoming more tech-savvy in the process. Up until this year, von Tobel worked at Northwestern Mutual as Chief Innovation Officer before stepping down to pursue her next clever endeavor. And, although LearnVest’s financial planning services officially concluded in May of last year, the site continues to publish wealth-worthy content. According to paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, von Tobel is on the hunt for $200 million to start another financial undertaking – a venture capital firm she has befittingly named Inspired Capital Partners. Due to SEC restrictions and regulations, von Tobel has declined to divulge details of her plans, however, her recent angel investments indicate she appears to be staying within the financial-tech space, but with an emphasis on the disenfranchised populace. The latest angel investment vehicle von Tobel contributed to was Blue Jumpsuit Ventures, which includes renters’ insurance start-up, Lemonade, and debt management site, Tally. Most recently, von Tobel participated in a $12.8 million series A investment Propel – creators of an app used by over 1.5 million Americans to help manage government benefits, like food stamps and housing.
Money Maker to Magazine Cover
In 2014, Forbes featured the tech-savvy, risk-taking money maven on their cover, as part of their exclusive series depicting the myriad of ways millennials’ attitudes toward money were influencing the emerging money management tools. The timing of LearnVest was no coincidence. Its catapult to success was denotative of the way many financial and tech companies founded during the 2008 financial crisis have had an influence on consumers beyond their small user bases. Northwestern Mutual has embraced LearnVest’s disruptive tech force into its own financial family, while investment giants Vanguard and Fidelity launched their own versions to meet customers’ increasing demands for affordable financial tools.
Von Tobel is the New York Times’ best-selling author of Financially Fearless, a distinguished member of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, and an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship for the White House. A regular contributor to The New York Times, Fast Company, Businessweek, and InStyle, as well as frequent appearances on GMA, The Today Show, CNN, and Rachel Ray, the Florida native has been judiciously selected as one of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Woman” and was included on their prized “40 Under 40” list. The busy businesswoman is currently a columnist for Money Magazine and Cosmopolitan. To steal some of her success secrets and business know-how, be sure to tune into her weekly radio show Financially Fearless with Alexa von Tobel on SiriusXM. The tech mogul is estimated to have a staggering net worth of around $100 million.
Now, that’s a wealth of information.