Steve Jobs revolutionized the computer industry, the way we listen to music, and how we make phone calls. Angel Rich wants to revolutionize financial literacy education and level the playing field between those who have money and those who don’t. But she’s playing on an uneven field. Jobs was a white man and Rich is a black woman.
Rich has a stellar app and a stellar record of success. Her app, Credit Stacker is fun, engaging and easy-to-use. Because government agencies and advertisers pay Credit Stacker, it’s available for free in 40 countries and in four languages and has been downloaded 24,000 times. Anyone can play it. It’s been tested with people from 4 to 80 years of age. Game experts have evaluated it and think that, like chess and checkers, it will be played for generations to come, according to Rich.
Using gamification techniques, Credit Stacker modules teach budgeting, saving, investing, credit management, banking, car financing, financial aid, taxes, real estate, entrepreneurship, academic planning, and career readiness. It’s useful for planning for your newborn’s financial future or for your retirement.
As to her credentials, she’s a proven winner. While in college, Rich won a Goldman Sachs Portfolio Challenge because the algorithm she developed resulted in a net portfolio gain of 2% when the market tanked in 2008. She also won Prudential’s National Case competition for her marketing plan for reaching millennials. As a result of that win, she was offered any job she wanted at Prudential. She choose to be a global market research analyst.
Rich began conceptualizing Credit Stacker in 2009 but didn’t leave her job until 2012. She had generated $6 billion in revenue for Prudential and received an underwhelming $30,000 bonus and an offer to pay for an MBA at Wharton so Rich said bye bye. In 2013, she launched The Wealth Factory Inc., a D.C.-based firm that designs financial literacy and workforce development education technology games. She literally wrote the book on why there is a financial gap between black and white America — History of the Black Dollar. The book was released last week.
The list of accolades for the company and product include:
- Being named the best financial literacy product in the country by The White House 2016
- Being named the best Learning Game in the country by the Department of Education
- Winning $10,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase for being the best solution in the world for reducing poverty
- Being named the Wealth Factory was named the ninth best ed-tech company of 2015, by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.
- Winning a $10,000 grant from Industrial Bank
- Winning $10,000 as the People’s Choice winner at the 43North business pitch competition.
The list of accolades for Rich include:
- Winning the Black Women Talk Tech pitch competition, which is where I met her.
- Jeff Hoffman, the founder of Priceline, Being calling one of his inspirations for waking up in the morning,
- Being inducted into the 2016 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) 30 Under 30 and the inaugural Hampton 40 Under 40
- Oh yeah, Harvard is so impressed with her gamification techniques, they’ve offered her a free doctorate if she’ll teach education technology..
And yet, funding has been a HUGE problem for Rich. “My competitor raised $75 million,” said Rich frustratedly. “I won best financial product and best learning game. My company raised only $200,000.”
Shame on VCs! They have an awful track record with women in general, according to Pitchbook 2016 data*, which found that only:
- 17% of VC backed companies were women-led.
- 11 % of VC dollars went to women-led companies.
- 9% of VC backed companies had a women CEOs .
- 5% of VC dollars went to companies with women CEOs.
But it’s much worse for black women. Even though black women represent 18% of all women in the U.S., they represent a mere 4% of all women-led tech startups in the U.S., according to #ProjectDiane.
Rich could hire white men and have them pitch the company but she wants to prove that black women can do this. She’s put together a top-notch team with their own credentials of success. Courtney Keen, Wealthy Life’s co-founder and COO, manages $1.4 billion in Navy contracts. Dominique Broadway, an award-winning personal finance expert has been sponsored by Chevy is Chief Strategy Officer.
Rich has become the queen of bootstrapping. Kudos to her but, again, shame on the VCs. We have established agreements with talent for stipends and stock shares, she said in an article in the Washington Post. “At MTECH, we leverage their facilities, advisers and two education technology professors. We also have an agreement with the law firm Fish & Richardson to assist with our intellectual property needs. A lot of our software is provided via our relationships with Microsoft and start-up rewards I’ve accumulated. Most importantly, we have now been vetted by most of the non-diluted funding available in D.C and Maryland.”
When Rich’s proves that there is big money to be made in helping people become financially literate and closing the wealth gap … maybe then the VCs will get the message: Change-makers are not always white and male.
What investment opportunity are you developing that will deliver a big ROI and help an underserved community?
*Pitchbook preliminary end of 2016 data was used.