Building Apps for Building Wealth: Meet Angel Rich, Founder of WealthyLife
In conversation, Angel Rich is kind, unassuming, and full of genuine laughs and smiles. But get her started talking about her career, and your jaw will drop to the floor.
Angel is the kind of person who has more accomplishments on her resume than most people twice her age. Her senior year of college, Angel won the Goldman Sachs Portfolio Challenge. That same year (2009), she also won Prudential’s National Case competition, which resulted in her being able to pick any job at the financial company. Her choice: Global Market Research Analyst.
Fast forward to 2018. Angel has spent the past 6 years working full-time on her dream — providing financial literacy to all, especially those in poverty — through her company WealthyLife. 200,000 people downloaded her app, Credit Stacker, within the first two weeks of its release. The Office of Michelle Obama at the White House named her app the best financial literacy app in the country. She’s been compared to Steve Jobs by Forbes.
Listen in to our interview with Angel Rich to find out just what she’s working on that has garnered so much attention from the media, consumers, and Obamas alike.
Play the podcast episode above, read the transcript below, or download it on iTunes to learn more.
Hannah Nyren: [00:00:04] Hi. This is Hannah Nyren, and today I’m speaking with Angel Rich, founder of Wealthy Life. Hi Angel, how’s it going?
Angel Rich: [00:00:11] Hi. It’s going really well.
Hannah Nyren: [00:00:12] So, Angel, what problem are you trying to solve in education with your product?
Angel Rich: [00:00:18] We are looking to solve the problem of poverty, via financial literacy.
Hannah Nyren: [00:00:24] That’s a huge undertaking. But it’s a great message, and it’s really important in education, you know, not only help people to be economically independent in the future, but, you know, to bridge the achievement gap. Tell me about what your product does, and how you are accomplishing this goal.
Angel Rich: [00:00:44] We design financial literacy education and technology games that walk people from birth to retirement in 12 interactive modules to exceed the personal finance Common Core standards. The first game that we’ve invented is called Credit Stacker. And it’s similar to Candy Crush. But instead of swapping around candy, you swap around various credit types to pay off your debt, achieve a high credit score, and learn from the multiple choice questions. We have taken a different approach to financial literacy by gamifying the content, in order to reduce people’s apprehension to finance and increase their retention and engagement with the information. And so far, it has been very effective at breaking through the kind of financial vernacular firewall, and being able to get through into people’s kind of subconscious and actually influence their behavior when it comes to finance, as a result of our game.
Hannah Nyren: [00:01:41] Where did you begin with this? What inspired you to start this company, and how did you gather the expertise to be able to create something like this? Because it sounds like a huge problem that you’re trying to solve. So how are you the person to solve it?
Angel Rich: [00:01:56] Well that’s sort of a long answer. But I’ll abridge it. I’ve actually been on this mission since I was 6 years old. I’ve always known I wanted to own some type of financial literacy company. I just didn’t know in what way. It started to take more shape when I was in college. And I won Goldman Sachs’ portfolio challenge. And I realized a need for some type of game for people to live out their financial life without the risk of them losing their money. And then the opportunity to kind of begin my financial career came to me when I won Prudential’s Case Competition, a few months later, my senior year. And I was able to pick any position I wanted to at Prudential. And then as a result of just doing an immense amount of research at Prudential, as well as on my own, since leaving and founding the Wealth Factory, we just really learned the importance for properly financially educating someone. Not only as a means of literacy, but also as a means of effective marketing, in order to have an educated consumer, a responsible consumer, and a consumer and that is likely to buy the product and continue to buy other products like cross-selling this stuff.
Hannah Nyren: [00:03:06] So what do you think are the most important things for people to learn with their finances? Like what do you teach in your app that you think are the most important lessons?
Angel Rich: [00:03:16] You know, I actually think their credit is number one. I go over this list all the time in my head. Depending on the person, but let’s just say generically. Everybody. I think credit is number one. I think real estate is number two. I think buying a used car versus a new car is number three. I would then put like savings in banking and budgeting. I would kind of lump that all together, like having just proper banking habits, and then fourthfully, I would say being able to manage and run a small business. And then just fifthly, operating in a financially savvy way. That means using a gas card to buy your gas. Using coupons to buy your food. And turning off the lights when you’re not in a room to save energy, as well as electricity cost.
Hannah Nyren: [00:04:02] Not ordering from GrubHub…
Angel Rich: [00:04:04] That too! Buy food at home. You know, divide it up. Bring the food to work. By just being more financially conscious.
Hannah Nyren: [00:04:13] And you turn all that into a game.
Angel Rich: [00:04:14] Exactly. By playing our game, we make people more financially conscious without them even realizing it. Recently, we had a gentleman send us a screenshot of his credit karma account after playing our game for two weeks. And the note was, after paying Credit Stacker for two weeks, his credit score went up 75 points. So we really do — and this is a 35-year-old, intelligent man. And so we really do take people from where they are and elevate them to a higher level, regardless of what age or income or background spectrum that they might be on.
Hannah Nyren: [00:04:46] That’s amazing. Maybe I should download that.
Angel Rich: [00:04:49] Yes! And it’s free and it’s available on Google Play in IOS. In 60 countries and 21 languages.
Hannah Nyren: [00:04:56] I know you were in the LearnLaunch accelerator recently. And we are doing a story on the LearnLaunch accelerator, as well. So, what did you gain from the accelerator? Why did you need an accelerator? Why did you benefit from an accelerator?
Angel Rich: [00:05:07] First of all, we joined the accelerator, because, obviously, you know, it’s the world’s best edtech accelerator. And we wanted to be a part of that universe— to learn from the guidance, to be a part of that world — as well as to share in the peer mentorship of the other companies and learn best practices from them and what they’re doing. We believe that we actually accomplished the goals that we set out for with LearnLaunch. And those goals were to develop strategic partnerships with major corporations. We wanted to understand how to be very keen and focused on who we were building relationships with. We were getting a ton of interest, and a lot of press. But we wanted to make sure it was very targeted and turned into dollars. And we actually have been able to do that. We’ve significantly raised our revenue since being at LearnLaunch. We secured two major partnerships that anybody would love to have. And we foresee us being able to secure a lot more over the coming year. We really feel as though our approach to investment management has also been strengthened by the guidance with LearnLaunch. We successfully raised a series-seed-A round. And now we’re close to closing a series-seed-B, all within the timeframe of the accelerator of LearnLaunch.
Hannah Nyren: [00:06:19] That’s amazing.
Angel Rich: [00:06:20] Thank you. That’s pretty cool. LearnLaunch has been great.
Hannah Nyren: [00:06:25] So what advice do you have for other startup founders out there who are trying to make a difference in education?
Angel Rich: [00:06:31] Have a plan. Oftentimes, especially education companies, when they come from education or being a teacher or any type of background like that, they feel like they understand the need so much that they feel as though by just creating the product or the solution that the rest will fall into place, and that the business model will come, and the customers will come, and all of those various different things. And it’s really just not that simple at all. It’s great that people have that background, but would be even better if they also came abreast of the business side of it, really developed their business model, really went out and did some research and aligned some stakeholders and partners. And knew who their customer was going to be, and what their revenue model was going to be, before they kind of quit their job or went full steam ahead. So I would highly advise having a plan, and especially a revenue model when you’re starting an education company. It’s not like selling books or selling a new watch or something. You have to really convince people of the efficacy of your plan.
Hannah Nyren: [00:07:32] I mean yeah, I think that’s true for software overall. When you’re not selling a physical product, you have to make sure there’s a proof there.
Angel Rich: [00:07:38] Exactly. And what I love about the education industry, and that is moving more towards efficacy in research and evidence-based training. And I think that is also going to start to become a key differentiator in the market. And it will start to separate the really great education products from the kind of “me-too”s.
Hannah Nyren: [00:07:59] Well, thank you for being here with me today, Angel.
Angel Rich: [00:08:02] Yes, definitely. I love EdTech Times, and I look forward to listening and reading more from you guys.
Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.