Feb. 17, 2022

Ksenia Yudina (UNest) - How she's Helping Parents Invest in Their Kids

Ksenia Yudina (UNest) - How she's Helping Parents Invest in Their Kids

Our guest is Ksenia Yudina, the Founder and CEO of UNest, the first mobile app that makes it easier than ever for parents to open a simple and affordable tax-advantaged investment account for their kids. We talk about how she immegrated to the U.S., transitioning careers from real estate to finance and where she realized alot of new parents are very motivated to invest in their parents, but don’t kow where to go. Without further ado, here she is.

  1. What was it like moving to the United States at 18? What was your first American experience like?
  2. How did you make your way to California?
  3. How did you become attracted to finance?
  4. What was the insight that led to the founding of UNest?
  5. Went to alot of networking events
  6. First round of capital -
  7. Seed round
  8. FB Groups that have kids
  9. What is the mission?
  10. What’s the monetization model?
  11. How did you approach getting early adopters excited about UNest?
  12. You just raised $26 million, what has been your customer acquitition strategy?
  13. How are you looking to scale?
  14. What’s the incentive to stay with UNest long term?
  15. How did you go about building a technical team?
  16. What was the next step? When did you raise investment?What was the biggest reason why investors believed in the product?What was the biggest reason why investors passed?
  17. What’s one thing you would change about fundraising?
  18. What’s one book that inspired you personally and one book that inspired you professionally?From Zero to OneHard Things About Hard ThingsThe Most Important Thing
  19. What’s one piece of advice you have for founders?
Transcript
WEBVTT 1 00:00:12.429 --> 00:00:17.030 Hello and welcome to the consumer VC. I am your host, Michael but 2 00:00:17.109 --> 00:00:20.829 and on this show we talked about the world of venture capital and innovation in 3 00:00:20.949 --> 00:00:25.460 both consumer technology and consumer products. If you're enjoying this content, you could 4 00:00:25.460 --> 00:00:30.420 subscribe to my newsletter, the consumer VC DOT sub stackcom, to get each 5 00:00:30.460 --> 00:00:34.700 new episode and more consumer news delivered straight to your inbox. Our guest is 6 00:00:34.780 --> 00:00:39.329 Cassennia Utama, the founder and CEO of UNST, the first mobile APP that 7 00:00:39.450 --> 00:00:44.009 makes it easier than ever for parents to open a simple and affordable tax advantage 8 00:00:44.049 --> 00:00:47.850 investment account for their kids. Because any has a pretty fascinating story. We 9 00:00:47.969 --> 00:00:52.640 talked about how she immigrated to the US transition careers from real estate to finance, 10 00:00:52.960 --> 00:00:57.200 as well as how she realized a lot of new parents are very motivated 11 00:00:57.399 --> 00:01:00.600 to invest in their kids but don't really know where to go. There wasn't 12 00:01:00.640 --> 00:01:03.320 really an easy way to do it. So, without further ADO, here 13 00:01:03.479 --> 00:01:19.140 she is, because, Zennia, thank you so much for joining me today. 14 00:01:19.180 --> 00:01:22.859 How are you doing? I'm doing great. Thanks so much, Mike, 15 00:01:23.260 --> 00:01:26.700 I really appreciate you coming on the show. So I know you moved 16 00:01:26.859 --> 00:01:32.540 to the United States when you're eighteen. What brought you to the US and 17 00:01:32.659 --> 00:01:36.129 what was kind of your first like American experience? Yeah, so, like 18 00:01:36.250 --> 00:01:40.329 I was a student and the idea was to come to the United States to 19 00:01:40.489 --> 00:01:42.930 work, but three months during the summer at some you know, like lower 20 00:01:44.010 --> 00:01:48.519 bred jobs like McDonald's and what have you, and then the idea was that 21 00:01:48.760 --> 00:01:52.280 I was supposed to go back. What happened in reality? The first date 22 00:01:52.400 --> 00:01:56.760 that I visited was Florida. So my plane landed in Florida, I looked 23 00:01:56.760 --> 00:02:00.079 around and I was like wow, the weather seems amazing. I love those 24 00:02:00.079 --> 00:02:06.549 bound treies and ocean and people are smiling at me, you know, everything 25 00:02:06.670 --> 00:02:08.949 this is so perfect. So why would I go back to the country? 26 00:02:09.389 --> 00:02:12.909 Like, you know, I like in my hometown we had like, you 27 00:02:12.990 --> 00:02:15.780 know, winter for nine months straight. So it was a very, you 28 00:02:15.860 --> 00:02:21.099 know, drastic experience, like what otherwise and just like how people treated me, 29 00:02:21.500 --> 00:02:24.180 obviously, you know, like I was always very focused on education and 30 00:02:24.699 --> 00:02:29.379 wanted to build great things in life and wanted to how like successful career. 31 00:02:29.580 --> 00:02:32.490 So those educational opportunities very, like super attractive to me. So called my 32 00:02:32.610 --> 00:02:36.729 parents and I was like, okay, guys, I'm not going back. 33 00:02:38.449 --> 00:02:42.210 So I was like look, I wouldn't give it a try and just build 34 00:02:42.289 --> 00:02:45.439 my future in this country. That's awesome, that's really cool. And so 35 00:02:45.560 --> 00:02:47.919 you were three months in Florida, right, two months in Florida, and 36 00:02:49.039 --> 00:02:52.439 I moved to late so why did you move to La why did you come 37 00:02:52.599 --> 00:02:54.120 West? I'm in last Angeles as well and I'm just very curious this. 38 00:02:54.639 --> 00:03:00.949 Yeah, absolutely. So my first destination was quast which you may know, 39 00:03:00.189 --> 00:03:04.430 like a small island, and Florida. It's not even like my Armi not 40 00:03:04.590 --> 00:03:07.270 like a, you know, a large city. And of course, like 41 00:03:07.389 --> 00:03:12.830 you cannot really go to like Great University. You can't like get a good 42 00:03:12.830 --> 00:03:15.340 job when you are on the island. So I do. I did have 43 00:03:15.860 --> 00:03:20.300 some friends living in the lay and they basically said, hey, like come 44 00:03:20.379 --> 00:03:23.300 over, check it out. We're want to find you, you know, 45 00:03:23.379 --> 00:03:25.180 like the first apartment. We want to help you a good job, and 46 00:03:25.539 --> 00:03:28.969 I was like okay, great, like I have some connections. The city, 47 00:03:29.090 --> 00:03:30.810 you know, seems great. Also highlighted that the better is much better 48 00:03:30.849 --> 00:03:35.969 than Florida. I wasn't a big fan of humidity. So it was just 49 00:03:36.090 --> 00:03:38.650 a perfect match. I came and I never went back. You got it. 50 00:03:38.729 --> 00:03:42.879 Well, yeah, I mean La in California if you're not a fan 51 00:03:42.960 --> 00:03:46.439 of humidity. I've also solve Im from the east coast of a washing dcity. 52 00:03:46.520 --> 00:03:50.080 Gets quite humid there, so it's nice to be in a place it 53 00:03:50.199 --> 00:03:53.560 doesn't have that humidity, even though I also love the east coast. So 54 00:03:53.759 --> 00:03:58.430 you were attending cal state norfridge. Is that right? That's right. Underground. 55 00:03:58.590 --> 00:04:00.669 One of your first exposures into business was in real estate. Is that 56 00:04:00.789 --> 00:04:03.830 right? Let's right. Some of my first job was actually at a mortgage 57 00:04:03.830 --> 00:04:08.870 company. My first real job was at a mortgage company in the lay and 58 00:04:09.310 --> 00:04:13.419 of course I was likely to join in all seven right before the financial crisis, 59 00:04:13.500 --> 00:04:15.779 hip and but that was like a great turning experience as well. So 60 00:04:15.899 --> 00:04:19.339 when I was at Mortish Company, I realized that I actually enjoyed the finance 61 00:04:19.459 --> 00:04:23.420 part of business more than I like wheels it. So I got my, 62 00:04:23.699 --> 00:04:27.490 you know, agents license. I went to sea sound to get my Undergrad 63 00:04:27.610 --> 00:04:31.129 and finance. But when I graduated in all nine it was like the worst 64 00:04:31.250 --> 00:04:35.050 time in history to get the job with finance. The industry was like just 65 00:04:35.209 --> 00:04:39.519 falling apart and like in New York, you know, the companies were closing. 66 00:04:39.560 --> 00:04:42.959 People who are losing jobs left and right. So I had to kind 67 00:04:42.959 --> 00:04:46.480 of peeve it back into real estate. I got my broker's license and I 68 00:04:46.720 --> 00:04:53.829 got into that business, specializing in distress properties, and I made that my 69 00:04:54.230 --> 00:04:58.350 career pivot for the next four years. So my my passion still was like 70 00:04:58.509 --> 00:05:01.230 in investment management and finance. So I had to kind of like find my 71 00:05:01.269 --> 00:05:04.269 own way back, people back and the way I did it as, of 72 00:05:04.389 --> 00:05:08.819 course, three education. So I went to Cella Anderson to get my Mba 73 00:05:09.339 --> 00:05:14.579 and in parallel I was resuing my CFA designation. So that was my like 74 00:05:14.699 --> 00:05:16.819 a lot of effort to to make good back to finance, but at all, 75 00:05:17.019 --> 00:05:19.740 you know, paid off. After you got your cf a certificate. 76 00:05:20.180 --> 00:05:25.329 Did you then work in corporate finance for a while or when did you think 77 00:05:25.329 --> 00:05:29.769 about having like the entrepreneurial bag? While I was at Anderson, I actually 78 00:05:30.250 --> 00:05:33.970 did not even specialize in a Charepreneurship, like I didn't click taking a classes 79 00:05:34.050 --> 00:05:38.720 on like in a venture capital or business plan development. kind of skipped it 80 00:05:38.920 --> 00:05:42.319 all because I was thinking that my dream is to just get like an a 81 00:05:42.399 --> 00:05:47.040 corporate job and to build successful career like on that side of things and Post 82 00:05:47.240 --> 00:05:51.470 Anderson. I ended up at capital group, which has a parent company of 83 00:05:51.509 --> 00:05:55.550 American funds that manages, like you know, over to thrill and right now 84 00:05:55.949 --> 00:05:58.670 I get, like you know, one of the dream jobs after business school. 85 00:05:58.990 --> 00:06:01.910 So I ended up there. I spent for wonderful years working on the 86 00:06:01.990 --> 00:06:05.779 private wealth side of things, just helping, you know, wealth individuals with 87 00:06:05.860 --> 00:06:10.620 financial plannings, well, stretch analysis, as Dellocation, all of that, 88 00:06:11.180 --> 00:06:15.819 and finished my CFA when I was a capital group and then the way I 89 00:06:15.100 --> 00:06:21.170 transitioned to interpreneurship. I decided to pursue this new journey just based on a 90 00:06:21.209 --> 00:06:26.290 lot of things that I observed in the industry as insider and being on the 91 00:06:26.370 --> 00:06:30.449 youngest side of financial advisors. Like, a lot of things just became very 92 00:06:30.490 --> 00:06:33.959 clear to me that like large institutions. So first of all, they are 93 00:06:34.040 --> 00:06:39.240 not great innovators. Like blush financial institutions like they moving like very slowly, 94 00:06:39.480 --> 00:06:43.319 no matter how wonderful they are. It's hard to innovate. I was trying 95 00:06:43.319 --> 00:06:46.160 to work like on a lot of projects and every project would take me like 96 00:06:46.279 --> 00:06:48.430 a year, like two years, to bring to life. So then I 97 00:06:48.670 --> 00:06:53.230 started like observing like a lot of interesting things. You know at capitals. 98 00:06:53.430 --> 00:06:57.470 First I realized that, Hey, like number one priority for all of our 99 00:06:57.589 --> 00:07:01.500 clients was investing food. They children, right. So all conversations were always 100 00:07:01.540 --> 00:07:06.139 about, you know, college savings plans, coustodial accounts, trust. So 101 00:07:06.259 --> 00:07:10.980 it was never about day retirement or, like the brokerage accounts. The second 102 00:07:11.019 --> 00:07:15.100 thing I realized is that a lot of my own friends who graduate from top 103 00:07:15.220 --> 00:07:18.050 schools, like like you seeling, I be the lot of like student that 104 00:07:18.689 --> 00:07:21.769 Davey, shout out to me asking for a Quek and easy way to get 105 00:07:21.810 --> 00:07:28.490 started with investment accounts for children. They did not react well when I introduce 106 00:07:28.649 --> 00:07:31.360 this, you know, sixteen pages long financial application from American funds, and 107 00:07:31.560 --> 00:07:33.839 I was like, look, this is one of the best five, twenty 108 00:07:33.879 --> 00:07:36.800 nine plants in the industry. Just go through out this paperwork, I'll help 109 00:07:36.839 --> 00:07:42.800 you on the back end and just realize that's not really how this new generation 110 00:07:43.079 --> 00:07:46.069 of parents of investors doing things. A lot of it back I got was, 111 00:07:46.389 --> 00:07:49.189 hey, like we all a mobile. We use Robin Hood. To 112 00:07:49.310 --> 00:07:54.189 use that more like meant like you name it right, like all those mobile 113 00:07:54.189 --> 00:07:59.379 applications to manage all financial aspects of their lives. And when I looked around 114 00:07:59.459 --> 00:08:03.980 I realized, well, there is nothing like mobile based technology and mabled you 115 00:08:05.060 --> 00:08:09.459 know, for parents to invest and safe with the Children's future. So huge 116 00:08:09.459 --> 00:08:11.339 opportunity. There is a lot of demand. It's one of the biggest pain 117 00:08:11.420 --> 00:08:16.089 points for the consumers. And at the same time, seventy percent of people 118 00:08:16.370 --> 00:08:20.810 in this country don't even know that those accounts exist, you know, because 119 00:08:20.850 --> 00:08:26.050 oil accounts five, twenty nine. So huge unawareness. Financially RECI is Super 120 00:08:26.170 --> 00:08:30.360 Low, but in my mind is presented a huge opportunity to build something with 121 00:08:30.399 --> 00:08:33.360 technology. Why did you even want to take the relief? As you know, 122 00:08:33.440 --> 00:08:35.679 like Arpnership, it's pretty pretty tough, pretty hard things to do. 123 00:08:37.159 --> 00:08:41.039 What was that moment like when you realize entrepreneurship was the actual avenue for me? 124 00:08:41.509 --> 00:08:43.669 Yeah, so I did like couple things when I was going through this, 125 00:08:43.789 --> 00:08:48.309 like this should't make it process, but I stead gap withal versus pursue 126 00:08:48.350 --> 00:08:52.230 this new journey. I basically started with spreadshit of all pros and cons for 127 00:08:52.389 --> 00:08:58.299 both opportunities and I realized that pross of taking a chance and and try to 128 00:08:58.379 --> 00:09:03.059 build it, the pros outnumbered cons and then for every kind of like disadvantage 129 00:09:03.139 --> 00:09:07.940 of con, I was trying to come up with a hitch. So again 130 00:09:07.019 --> 00:09:11.370 it be like very analytical. I was okay, what if it doesn't work 131 00:09:11.370 --> 00:09:13.889 out, like what's the worst gates like that can happen with me? Okay, 132 00:09:15.169 --> 00:09:18.889 I can go back to the corporate because no one's going to take away 133 00:09:18.009 --> 00:09:22.210 my credentials, education, my experience, like all of that. And can 134 00:09:22.330 --> 00:09:26.200 I sustain to live like on a very low basicality and for the next, 135 00:09:26.320 --> 00:09:28.840 you know, year or two? Yes, I can, because of how 136 00:09:28.960 --> 00:09:33.480 like, you know, safety that I have a husband who is very supportive 137 00:09:33.519 --> 00:09:37.039 of this. So, at the end of the day, like what I 138 00:09:37.159 --> 00:09:39.470 decided to myself is that if I don't give it a try, I'm going 139 00:09:39.509 --> 00:09:43.509 to regret all my life, right, and I'm still young to recover from 140 00:09:43.509 --> 00:09:48.230 any type of failure. Right. So that was my thinking. But opportunity 141 00:09:48.389 --> 00:09:52.029 was just too big, you know, and too exciting for me to pass 142 00:09:52.029 --> 00:09:56.539 them. I love the reason why you wanted to explore and it obviously became 143 00:09:56.539 --> 00:10:03.019 an entrepreneur. How did you think about us in that capacity when you were 144 00:10:03.659 --> 00:10:07.809 starting to figure out, okay, maybe there's a new way to distribute these 145 00:10:07.850 --> 00:10:11.809 financial products through mobile apps? Yeah, so there was like a lot that 146 00:10:11.889 --> 00:10:16.009 I've really had read that the expertise on the business front, where I was 147 00:10:16.049 --> 00:10:20.559 able to do like a lot of competitive analysis and just analytically think about market 148 00:10:20.600 --> 00:10:26.159 opportunity all of that, and, of course, having all finance background, 149 00:10:26.519 --> 00:10:28.639 that the main expertise, was super necessary. But, to your point, 150 00:10:30.039 --> 00:10:33.279 I wasn't a technical person and I realized that I would need to partner with 151 00:10:33.399 --> 00:10:37.789 someone on the Technical Front to help me just, you know, bring it 152 00:10:37.950 --> 00:10:45.309 to life and leverage digital marketing channels to make the solution superscalable and accessible to 153 00:10:45.669 --> 00:10:50.940 like, you know why, population of people. So the way I approached 154 00:10:50.100 --> 00:10:54.700 this is I actually started going to a lot of networking events and just hanging 155 00:10:54.740 --> 00:10:58.940 out with people in that community and tell them about, you know, my 156 00:10:58.059 --> 00:11:03.299 idea and mission and the problem I'm trying to solve. So like the cool 157 00:11:03.419 --> 00:11:07.090 thing was that I found like the the idea resonated with a lot of people. 158 00:11:07.210 --> 00:11:09.450 They love the mission, the love that opportunity to solve this huge problem. 159 00:11:09.850 --> 00:11:13.970 A lot of people related because they had student loans or they had kids 160 00:11:15.330 --> 00:11:16.769 and they were like, Oh, well, like you building something great. 161 00:11:16.809 --> 00:11:20.039 So that gave me like a lot of encouragement and then, you know, 162 00:11:20.159 --> 00:11:26.720 that network led me to finding my city. You know, first he became 163 00:11:26.919 --> 00:11:31.480 effect that advisor Super Can. He had experience on both like startups and also 164 00:11:31.639 --> 00:11:35.990 a large corporations. He knew a lot about how to build, think that 165 00:11:37.110 --> 00:11:41.710 architecture and you know, obviously the beginning I couldn't pay him any salary because 166 00:11:41.710 --> 00:11:46.509 I was still a bootstrapped and in the very like early stages. So he 167 00:11:46.669 --> 00:11:50.179 became an advisor for equity and like a little bit of cash, and once 168 00:11:50.340 --> 00:11:54.419 we secured the first round of capital, he jumped on board in the full 169 00:11:54.500 --> 00:12:00.299 time city opposition. And pretty much the same thing happened on the marketing round. 170 00:12:00.700 --> 00:12:03.049 I realized that hey, like I need someone with the great track record 171 00:12:03.450 --> 00:12:09.090 in Finn Tack who knows how to bring Finka solutions to market. So first 172 00:12:09.129 --> 00:12:13.889 I got in touch with Peter Mansfield, was known in Ala as a fin 173 00:12:13.970 --> 00:12:18.120 back expert. He was actually the second guy in the company called Marquetta which, 174 00:12:18.320 --> 00:12:22.120 as you knowed just went I peol last year, and he had, 175 00:12:22.519 --> 00:12:26.919 you know, series of successful feedback exits. So someone recommend, I think 176 00:12:28.039 --> 00:12:31.029 few people, whom it for me to talk to Peter. We connected. 177 00:12:31.110 --> 00:12:33.590 He loved the mission, he had three kids, that he had to put 178 00:12:33.710 --> 00:12:37.029 through college. So he totally recognize the problem of solving so he jumped on 179 00:12:37.149 --> 00:12:41.870 board and help me with a go to market strategy and help to the first 180 00:12:41.909 --> 00:12:45.259 round of finding and then, like at the time, we were closed in 181 00:12:45.340 --> 00:12:50.059 the scene round. The last person who kind of joined the score executive team 182 00:12:50.419 --> 00:12:54.500 was Mike when camp and. So he came from ACORNS and he was in 183 00:12:54.620 --> 00:13:01.009 charge of user position and growth at ACORNS. So he became our first zeal 184 00:13:01.250 --> 00:13:05.850 and had a proof and he knew everything about digital marketing channels. He brought 185 00:13:05.889 --> 00:13:11.450 that expertise to the team. Walk me through what data points you had as 186 00:13:11.649 --> 00:13:16.559 proof points to investors that this is a large markets, there's very much a 187 00:13:16.679 --> 00:13:20.320 need for this market. This is solving a real pain, since you were 188 00:13:20.360 --> 00:13:24.080 still in Beta. Definitely, like you know, showcase in that we already 189 00:13:24.159 --> 00:13:30.269 build something that's working and for the investors being able to test it and create 190 00:13:30.309 --> 00:13:31.870 a counts for their kids. And but, by the way, the investors 191 00:13:33.029 --> 00:13:35.710 that decided to put a check in the company, they all were parents, 192 00:13:35.950 --> 00:13:39.470 right, so like, first of all, they ideal like clearly resonated with 193 00:13:39.549 --> 00:13:43.860 them because they had kids secund like we already had thousand users on this Ios 194 00:13:43.980 --> 00:13:50.740 Beta version and we knew the unit economics right. We were talking very confidently 195 00:13:50.779 --> 00:13:56.409 about our user acquisition numbers all LTV we could predict. So basically the idea 196 00:13:56.649 --> 00:14:01.649 was, if we can get this first round of capital, we can extrapolate 197 00:14:01.769 --> 00:14:05.649 it and, you know, a chieve explosive grow, because we already know 198 00:14:05.769 --> 00:14:09.690 that Amanda's their market is their people, you know, really creating for this 199 00:14:09.730 --> 00:14:13.480 kind of solution. And we already proved that you need economics work. Got 200 00:14:13.559 --> 00:14:16.879 It now. That's helpful. And so you already had like early adopters when 201 00:14:16.919 --> 00:14:22.200 you were pigeon investors that were using the Beta version of the APP even just 202 00:14:22.320 --> 00:14:26.429 like packing up one bit more. How are we able to get early adopters 203 00:14:26.629 --> 00:14:30.750 to even to come on the APP, interact with the APP, and obviously 204 00:14:30.789 --> 00:14:35.789 seldom financial products? Yeah, so the early doctors came from early from three 205 00:14:37.070 --> 00:14:41.419 sources. First was my Ucla Anderson Network. So I reached out to the 206 00:14:41.460 --> 00:14:46.419 mailing list and got some really doctors there. That was a very easy again, 207 00:14:46.460 --> 00:14:48.100 like a lot of people have student that and have kids. You know, 208 00:14:48.299 --> 00:14:52.809 solution resonates. We also went to some social media like facebook groups where 209 00:14:52.929 --> 00:14:58.090 parents talked about kids and, you know, ask for the Beta testers there 210 00:14:58.049 --> 00:15:01.929 and just organically, you know, through the APP right, you can, 211 00:15:01.129 --> 00:15:05.690 you know, beat on some search terms in the APP store to attract people, 212 00:15:05.690 --> 00:15:11.000 for interested in this solution. Talk to me a little bit about the 213 00:15:11.159 --> 00:15:16.759 monetization model. How do you make money and did you start charging like day 214 00:15:16.879 --> 00:15:20.590 one, so we may solution pretty much free for the first, you know, 215 00:15:20.710 --> 00:15:24.309 call forth of Beta users and that when we, like, you know, 216 00:15:24.389 --> 00:15:28.470 went public, it was paid version they want. What's important to understand 217 00:15:28.509 --> 00:15:33.509 about like the platform and what we offer into the users is that we offer 218 00:15:33.549 --> 00:15:35.460 a few things. First, as ability to set up, you know, 219 00:15:35.539 --> 00:15:41.299 resting account for kids in five minutes. Second is ability to get gifts from 220 00:15:41.299 --> 00:15:46.980 friends and family into a child's account, and third is getting the rewards from 221 00:15:46.139 --> 00:15:50.210 our brand partners. Every time you make a purchase, right, like, 222 00:15:50.289 --> 00:15:52.649 something falls into your UNs account. So for the access to the platform, 223 00:15:52.970 --> 00:15:58.769 we charge subscription fee of three dollars per up. So that's the main way 224 00:15:58.929 --> 00:16:03.769 we as a business make money, and not a way is through partnerships with 225 00:16:03.850 --> 00:16:07.919 the brands because again, like every time when someone opens account, let's say, 226 00:16:07.960 --> 00:16:11.399 like you subscribe it like Disney plus, right, that we would get 227 00:16:11.440 --> 00:16:15.399 the bounty from Disney of like twenty dollars and we would secluit it with you 228 00:16:15.799 --> 00:16:18.549 fifteen. So we would keep some of this mendization and some of this will 229 00:16:18.549 --> 00:16:23.230 fall into the child's account. We also just became a broken dealer and that 230 00:16:23.549 --> 00:16:29.230 opens up a lot of additional rev like revenue streams for us. So again, 231 00:16:29.269 --> 00:16:34.100 look super time consuming and expensive process for anything that company like. It 232 00:16:34.139 --> 00:16:38.419 took us over ten months to become broken dealer. But eventually, like you 233 00:16:38.500 --> 00:16:42.340 know, once we launch his new product called in a sagac that will allow 234 00:16:42.700 --> 00:16:48.169 parents trade individual stocks and Crypto, we will have like additional revenue streams from 235 00:16:48.169 --> 00:16:52.090 there. That's amazing. That's amazing and I'm also impressed with investing crytokas. 236 00:16:52.129 --> 00:16:56.330 I mean obviously crypto. There's a lot of highs allow Loos in crypto. 237 00:16:56.649 --> 00:17:00.129 Has that been a demand from parents for want in Crypto? How accepted is 238 00:17:00.250 --> 00:17:04.119 crypto from the parents point of view? In in your mind, one thing 239 00:17:04.200 --> 00:17:08.079 that we did last year is we sent the survey to the entire use of 240 00:17:08.160 --> 00:17:12.039 base to understand what parents would like to see more or uns platform. So 241 00:17:12.119 --> 00:17:17.349 it's wasn't just a decision that we made like an isolation and we give like 242 00:17:17.670 --> 00:17:21.829 several options. First was trading individual stocks and Crypto for the child's like in 243 00:17:21.829 --> 00:17:26.430 the child's account. Another one was life insurance, then secret credit card and 244 00:17:26.829 --> 00:17:30.099 different like in a couple other things, and crypto and Indivi. Show stocks 245 00:17:30.259 --> 00:17:36.099 was was number one. Like you know, it's was just like overwhelmingly like 246 00:17:36.220 --> 00:17:40.380 high demand from our user brains. So the second thing like, you know, 247 00:17:40.539 --> 00:17:44.529 realization that if you look at what's going on like in the new cycles 248 00:17:44.650 --> 00:17:47.609 and like in the market, we kind of realized that, hey, like 249 00:17:47.730 --> 00:17:52.369 in twice when you want, crypto reached the mainstream adoption. I would argue 250 00:17:52.490 --> 00:17:57.329 that now, like more people heard about cryptal versus some like traditional set classes 251 00:17:57.410 --> 00:18:03.839 like mutual funds and the tls. Read and even having casual conversations with some 252 00:18:03.039 --> 00:18:07.519 of my friends who old parents, like I just started, like, you 253 00:18:07.599 --> 00:18:11.079 know, doing it like an exercise, like I started asking them at the 254 00:18:11.119 --> 00:18:15.109 dinner table, Hey, if you could buy a stock they like and hold 255 00:18:15.190 --> 00:18:18.349 it in your child s acounts for the next ten years, whatever stock would 256 00:18:18.349 --> 00:18:21.150 it be? And they response is like, we wouldn't buy stock, we 257 00:18:21.190 --> 00:18:22.950 would buy crypto. Right, because, again, what is the asset? 258 00:18:23.069 --> 00:18:27.539 Class that is perceived by public right now as the set class that has the 259 00:18:27.619 --> 00:18:32.779 greatest but that shows to appreciate in the next fifteen, twenty years. So 260 00:18:32.859 --> 00:18:37.859 a lot of parents think that it's cryptocurrency versus stalks of bombs. That's fascinating. 261 00:18:37.059 --> 00:18:41.690 And, of course, like these accounts to, are designed to pay 262 00:18:41.769 --> 00:18:47.529 for or contribute to kids education, right, college education. How do you 263 00:18:47.650 --> 00:18:52.049 also think about the future of education, because things are changing? Maybe in 264 00:18:52.809 --> 00:18:57.359 eighteen years or so kids might not be going to college as much or there 265 00:18:57.359 --> 00:19:02.720 might be, you know, different educational like alternatives. How do you also 266 00:19:03.240 --> 00:19:06.960 think about this? Is as a CEO of us, you know, it's 267 00:19:07.000 --> 00:19:11.430 important to know like the story of the company, Right. We launched solution 268 00:19:11.990 --> 00:19:15.349 on five, D and twenty nine. Right, so five twenty nine accounts, 269 00:19:15.630 --> 00:19:18.470 tax free accounts that a man just for education, college or other educational 270 00:19:18.549 --> 00:19:23.299 expenses. And in the middle of Covid we actually made the pivot to a 271 00:19:23.339 --> 00:19:30.019 different type of solution called Autma, Agma or Utma, that's more flexible and 272 00:19:30.500 --> 00:19:33.859 that peel at post goals by two big drivers. First of all, we 273 00:19:33.980 --> 00:19:37.180 realize that trying to build something on the five, like with five, two 274 00:19:37.299 --> 00:19:44.769 nine, industry can be pretty complex and challenging because how antiquated the industry is. 275 00:19:45.089 --> 00:19:48.170 Like early days, we had to you know, all of the APPs 276 00:19:48.529 --> 00:19:52.049 looked very sleek and easy on the front end, on the back end we 277 00:19:52.130 --> 00:19:55.440 still had to do a lot of things, like manually and like facing things 278 00:19:55.640 --> 00:19:59.920 versus, you know, using apis. And then during coll like this feedback 279 00:19:59.960 --> 00:20:03.720 that you just mentioned that hey, parents have different throw verses for they get 280 00:20:03.000 --> 00:20:07.710 they want more flexibility, they're not sure that kids will even go to college 281 00:20:07.029 --> 00:20:10.190 or, like, you know, some birds think that maybe, like the 282 00:20:10.230 --> 00:20:15.150 kids, we will become influencers or prioritizing by the first house. That feedback 283 00:20:15.309 --> 00:20:18.430 was just overwhelming. So what we decided to do is to introduce this other 284 00:20:18.470 --> 00:20:22.259 account type and we switched all of our users into this new account type, 285 00:20:22.500 --> 00:20:26.859 which is also investment account, whose a tax advantaged and tax advantages are pretty 286 00:20:26.900 --> 00:20:32.500 equivalent to five twenty nine, but provides much more flexibility in what you can 287 00:20:32.579 --> 00:20:36.410 save and invest for, so you're not getting penalized if, for some reason, 288 00:20:36.490 --> 00:20:40.410 you don't spend the money on college or educational expenses. Compared to five 289 00:20:40.490 --> 00:20:45.250 twenty nine, and also to earlier point, I'll just highlight that five hundred 290 00:20:45.289 --> 00:20:49.519 twenty nine. It's also pretty restrictive in selection of investment options. So you 291 00:20:49.559 --> 00:20:56.400 can pretty much invest only mutual funds and ATFs versus in Utmail, at magma 292 00:20:56.400 --> 00:21:00.400 account you have more flexibility. You can actually invest in a tarnative investments, 293 00:21:00.440 --> 00:21:04.990 you can invest in something like Crypto and you can buy individual stocks. That's 294 00:21:06.029 --> 00:21:08.230 fascinating. And if factory eye the money, when you pull out the money, 295 00:21:08.230 --> 00:21:11.470 it has to go toward education. Is At right? That's right. 296 00:21:11.869 --> 00:21:18.150 You get the tax free growth right at the expense of if you don't use 297 00:21:18.190 --> 00:21:22.259 it for college or you don't use for education, you lose all tax advantages 298 00:21:22.380 --> 00:21:26.180 and you actually the panalized by ten percent on the earn ex portion, and 299 00:21:26.380 --> 00:21:32.930 that's basically government's way to prevent you for using mine on something else similar to 300 00:21:33.009 --> 00:21:37.369 what they do on their time and class. So they very restrictive. What 301 00:21:37.490 --> 00:21:41.490 are some other Partshire business that is effective, either positively or negatively, do 302 00:21:41.650 --> 00:21:47.480 to covid? Yeah, overall covid was a positive put the company. One 303 00:21:47.559 --> 00:21:52.200 thing that was interesting is that we had a board meeting right before covid hit 304 00:21:52.400 --> 00:21:56.279 where we show old the board our like you know, exponential growth after the 305 00:21:56.440 --> 00:22:00.829 traditioned to Utma and we're like very, you know, excited about going to 306 00:22:00.950 --> 00:22:04.910 the market to raise our series A. and pretty much, you know, 307 00:22:06.029 --> 00:22:08.309 the next the very next week, the world shut down. You could not 308 00:22:08.589 --> 00:22:14.150 go to, you know, to the bay area, to East Coast to 309 00:22:14.269 --> 00:22:18.099 meet with those investors that were very interested in meeting us. So we had 310 00:22:18.099 --> 00:22:21.660 to kind a few at an hour fundraising strategy. And the cool thing is 311 00:22:21.819 --> 00:22:25.819 that and to capital. Let our series a around. They really put like 312 00:22:25.859 --> 00:22:27.940 a small check and now see round. So the new the company, the 313 00:22:29.299 --> 00:22:33.450 the new our progress, and they're just a very excited to put more money 314 00:22:33.690 --> 00:22:36.529 and become, you know, a little investor. The cool thing is that 315 00:22:36.849 --> 00:22:41.609 you know and thus is a lay based and you nasty is probably like the 316 00:22:41.730 --> 00:22:45.599 only La based patrol company for them right now. So we have like a 317 00:22:45.680 --> 00:22:49.960 very like family type of relationship. So that was a pivot. And another 318 00:22:51.039 --> 00:22:55.559 interesting thing that that happened during covid again, at first you don't understand how 319 00:22:55.680 --> 00:22:59.109 you're going to hire like all those people, read and build culture, because 320 00:22:59.430 --> 00:23:03.150 how you like were a small company. You're growing fast. I've just raised 321 00:23:03.230 --> 00:23:06.509 you know that the new round of capital. You need to deploy it and 322 00:23:06.670 --> 00:23:08.390 you need to hire, like, you know, talent and you need to 323 00:23:08.829 --> 00:23:12.059 find me people. How do you do? But what we also realized is 324 00:23:12.140 --> 00:23:18.539 that covid gave us and amazing opportunity to hire outside of La and outside of 325 00:23:18.660 --> 00:23:25.059 California and get access to amazing talent from Utah, Colorado and even all the 326 00:23:25.140 --> 00:23:30.529 countries by transitioning, you know, they entire operations to remote, you know, 327 00:23:30.609 --> 00:23:36.569 to remote work environment. What is your approach to cut bracquisition strategy, 328 00:23:36.809 --> 00:23:41.480 since now you have fresh pot of funding and looking aground? Yeah, so 329 00:23:41.359 --> 00:23:48.240 about forty percent of this round is meant pole marketing. And on the marketing 330 00:23:48.359 --> 00:23:52.039 front were doing several things. So paid userquisition work extremely well for the company 331 00:23:52.119 --> 00:23:56.869 in the coast and I feel at marketing channel, so partnering with the other 332 00:23:56.029 --> 00:24:02.029 like bloggers and auditing tacks, you know, to share the partnerships there. 333 00:24:02.589 --> 00:24:06.470 And of course, I guess we mature, we also have more brand presents 334 00:24:06.509 --> 00:24:11.099 and more organic growth as well. And another thing that we implemented right now. 335 00:24:11.140 --> 00:24:15.619 So after we raised series be, we brought on board John Walker as 336 00:24:15.660 --> 00:24:22.660 a president. So He is civil entrepreneur who launched the next did three companies. 337 00:24:22.940 --> 00:24:26.730 He spent about ten years in venture capital. So He's pretty much spear 338 00:24:26.769 --> 00:24:30.450 hiding this new product, you know, Slaga Sea, which will have the 339 00:24:30.529 --> 00:24:33.410 scripted component. And again like because there is so much hype and excitement about 340 00:24:33.410 --> 00:24:40.359 the SCRIPTA component. In addition to growing our user base through those different marketing 341 00:24:40.440 --> 00:24:44.519 channels, we also will be launching the waiting list for the crypto product and 342 00:24:44.720 --> 00:24:48.880 building like additional user based through through that. Nice, is nice. What 343 00:24:48.960 --> 00:24:53.109 are some other ways even able to learn what products or even even what features, 344 00:24:53.349 --> 00:24:56.230 because I love this idea that you mentioned, and also being able to 345 00:24:56.269 --> 00:25:02.029 execute on where you're taking what customers want and then you're producing products for customers. 346 00:25:02.069 --> 00:25:03.789 Are there any other examples that you have where you been able to do 347 00:25:03.910 --> 00:25:08.579 this? Yes, so, actually, I'll nasty wards engine, which you 348 00:25:08.660 --> 00:25:14.420 know, like I just mentioned, the partnerships with hundred twenty brands, also 349 00:25:14.539 --> 00:25:19.299 gives us a lot of insights and data about what customers really use and what, 350 00:25:19.579 --> 00:25:22.930 you know, like what they want. So I would highlight that. 351 00:25:22.329 --> 00:25:27.130 One of the most successful partnerships so far was it life insurance companies, and 352 00:25:27.450 --> 00:25:30.450 I guess like it's also like no brainer, because there is a lot of 353 00:25:30.609 --> 00:25:36.200 overlap when you become a parent, two things you automatically think about this. 354 00:25:36.599 --> 00:25:40.519 I need the investment accountment for my child of college stavings acount and I need 355 00:25:40.680 --> 00:25:44.680 life insurance, because what if something happens to me? So a lot of 356 00:25:44.759 --> 00:25:48.559 overlap and huge popularity on the platform for those type of products. So again, 357 00:25:48.599 --> 00:25:52.710 like as you think, okay, what is that next thing we want 358 00:25:52.710 --> 00:25:56.190 to build of? Who Do you want to partner with with trying to kind 359 00:25:56.190 --> 00:26:00.869 of double down on what already works on nasty words, what are you looking 360 00:26:00.990 --> 00:26:04.180 to accomplish in two thousand and twenty two and beyond? Love to learn more 361 00:26:04.220 --> 00:26:10.500 about about the vision for you, nest, absolutely so. But Two thousand 362 00:26:10.500 --> 00:26:14.059 and twenty two, I would say that definitely the digital assets will become, 363 00:26:14.500 --> 00:26:17.140 like, you know, one of the main focuses for the company. So 364 00:26:17.420 --> 00:26:21.690 not only the crypto that we already like talked about, but also like how 365 00:26:21.809 --> 00:26:26.730 can we explore end of TS, for example, to allow friends and family, 366 00:26:26.250 --> 00:26:30.049 you know, instead of just gifting cash into the child's account in a 367 00:26:30.089 --> 00:26:34.000 gift and of ts? Or how do you explore some staken and yield from 368 00:26:34.480 --> 00:26:41.039 cryptocurrencies to make like more rewards and like make create more opportunities for parents to 369 00:26:41.240 --> 00:26:45.160 easily wrote that investment account for the child. So definitely for two thousand and 370 00:26:45.160 --> 00:26:48.430 twenty two, that becomes a big focus for the company. And another big 371 00:26:48.509 --> 00:26:52.029 focus is g Portolos, which we will launch predu soon. So again, 372 00:26:52.069 --> 00:26:57.710 like an our audience consists of millennials who are very environmentally conscious and, like 373 00:26:57.829 --> 00:27:02.180 you know, they want to invest into things that matter to them. So 374 00:27:02.299 --> 00:27:04.700 again, like, we've heard the feedback from the market, we've heard trends 375 00:27:04.740 --> 00:27:11.099 in the market and you'll be launching set of ESG Portolos this year as well 376 00:27:11.339 --> 00:27:15.250 and for the future. So one thing that kind of excites me about solution 377 00:27:15.329 --> 00:27:22.970 at what we're building is the opportunities like limitless in terms of where we can 378 00:27:22.049 --> 00:27:26.690 go next. So we definitely have plans for international expansion and we want to 379 00:27:26.809 --> 00:27:32.559 build global product because, from what we learned, currently there is nothing like 380 00:27:32.680 --> 00:27:37.640 this exists in Asia or Europe right and typically companies or startups in Asia and 381 00:27:37.720 --> 00:27:42.039 Europe they trying to copy something that's been already successful in the United States. 382 00:27:42.559 --> 00:27:47.190 So, for example, a lot of companies are building new banks or the 383 00:27:47.349 --> 00:27:52.349 building probitood. To point all versus, you know, like we have this 384 00:27:52.509 --> 00:27:56.829 mission of like regardless of economic background, geography, religion, race, like 385 00:27:57.029 --> 00:28:00.460 you know, all parents supposed to have an easier way to save and investment 386 00:28:00.539 --> 00:28:03.619 the keys future. Where can you go over the solution? Any country? 387 00:28:03.940 --> 00:28:07.740 Amazing, amazing. That's a very grand mission. That's awesome. That's awesome. 388 00:28:07.980 --> 00:28:12.369 What's one book that Inspire you personally, one book that inspire you professionally? 389 00:28:14.049 --> 00:28:18.289 If I talk about the startup related books, I really enjoyed the book 390 00:28:18.329 --> 00:28:23.329 called from zero to one, and most recently are thing about hard things, 391 00:28:23.849 --> 00:28:27.559 probably like one of my favorites. have at of quotes from the book. 392 00:28:27.599 --> 00:28:32.240 A thought Li resonated with me, and now that one is art of the 393 00:28:32.279 --> 00:28:34.480 start and I'm sorry, like according too many books, probably like the real 394 00:28:34.839 --> 00:28:41.000 start up versus. Like me personally on the personal front, just because I 395 00:28:41.240 --> 00:28:45.750 love reading about investing and I admire couple, you know, people in that 396 00:28:45.869 --> 00:28:49.670 space, so onet being warm puffet, and another one is Howard mark, 397 00:28:49.789 --> 00:28:55.710 founder of oaktree capital. So loved the book that he's written few years ago, 398 00:28:55.900 --> 00:28:59.700 called the most important thing. Amazing. Amazing. That's awesome. Really 399 00:28:59.700 --> 00:29:02.859 excited add these for a book list. This is great. My final question 400 00:29:02.940 --> 00:29:06.019 for you is, what's one piece of advice that you have for founders, 401 00:29:06.299 --> 00:29:11.410 I would say, like one piece of the Times I give at any point 402 00:29:11.890 --> 00:29:15.049 over your startup, Joiney, ll be entrepreneurial journey. Is just to not 403 00:29:15.210 --> 00:29:21.529 quite and be persistent, because startup is a set of like challenges. I'm 404 00:29:21.569 --> 00:29:25.599 limited challenges, and you will face obstacles, especial to seed dround. But 405 00:29:26.039 --> 00:29:30.319 you know, I believe that any outcome, especially for the first time founder, 406 00:29:30.680 --> 00:29:33.119 is is okay outcome, you know, whether it's partnership or exit or, 407 00:29:33.319 --> 00:29:37.240 you know, acquisition by another company. What's not okay is not trying 408 00:29:37.279 --> 00:29:41.509 to push through to see what's on the other side. And persistent definitely makes 409 00:29:41.789 --> 00:29:47.950 a big difference for start up founders. I totally agree, Cassenni. Yeah, 410 00:29:48.190 --> 00:29:49.990 this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for joining me 411 00:29:51.029 --> 00:29:52.900 today. No, thank you so much, Mike, for Fu inviting yeah, 412 00:29:52.900 --> 00:29:56.220 I really enjoy the conversation, enjoy the dialog. And there you have 413 00:29:56.420 --> 00:30:00.140 it. It was so amazing chatting with Cassennia and I really enjoyed hearing your 414 00:30:00.180 --> 00:30:03.900 story. I hope you all enjoyed it as well. If you enjoyed this 415 00:30:03.019 --> 00:30:06.779 episode, I love it if you write a review on the apple podcast. 416 00:30:07.059 --> 00:30:10.730 You're also welcome to follow me your host Mike, on twitter at my Guel 417 00:30:10.930 --> 00:30:15.369 and also follow for episode announcements at Consumer VC. Thanks for listening, everyone, 418 -->