Angel Rich is changing the game of wealth. Angel is the founder and CEO of fintech company WealthyLife where she creates games and apps like CreditStacker to make learning about money easy and fun. She shares her vision, her journey and why she’ll be only the 17th African American woman to raise $1m for her business.
Welcome to Wings, Angel Rich.
Angel Rich: Hi. Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s great to have you on, and I love what you’re doing around encouraging people to live a wealthy life. What was your inspiration?
Angel Rich: Well, my mother always has an email address and wanted to start a company called “Wealth Legacy”, and she just always taught me the importance of wealth. So, when I went to go create my company I wanted to have the word “wealth” in the title for sure and find a way to help people create a wealthy life, and finally I just decided to name it just that — Wealthy Life.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it’s a great name. So, tell me a little bit more about it. When did it start? What are you up to right now? And what are the products?
Angel Rich: Yeah, definitely. We started in 2013 after I was a global market research analyst for Prudential Financial. That year I fortunately had made the company a lot of money – 6 billion dollars, to be exact – and I received a double promotion, a full ride to Wharton, $30,000, and was placed on the CEO track, in which I decided to went to Africa. While I was in Africa, I met a little boy who had on a Wharton t-shirt, and I realized no matter how smart he became he probably would never have the opportunity to actually go to Wharton. So, when I returned to America, I decided to quit my job to create equal access to financial literacy everywhere regardless of where you were born. And that was the beginning of Wealthy Life.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, what a beautiful mission. I love that you make learning about money fun. This is all gamified – how to teach people about money. Yes, explain how all that works.
Angel Rich: Yes. So, basically games kind of uniquely, almost inherently provide intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for people; and what does that mean? It means that you can see something on the outside and feel as though you’re simulating what’s happening so that you can actually do it. And then on the inside, they’re providing addictive motivations for you to continue, and so I felt like if I could take those mechanics and apply it to education, and most importantly financial education, then we could possibly change the world. And so, that is sort of the thinking behind us inventing CreditStacker, which is the only mobile credit game in the world, and we basically reverse engineered [inaudible 00:03:24 credit reporting system and applied game mechanics to that to be able to help people understand and better interpret their credit reports and know the factors that go into contributing to making up the credit score.
Melinda Wittstock: What a wonderful idea, because so many of us have these really weird ideas about money, whether consciously or unconsciously – perhaps we’ve inherited them by listening to our parents, when we were little kids, argue about money, or thinking that we don’t deserve it or thinking we’re greedy if we have it, or all kinds of weird beliefs about money.
Angel Rich: (Laughs)
Melinda Wittstock: So, by gamifying it – by making it fun – the theory goes that you can help people kind of eliminate all those beliefs that maybe hold them back or maybe make them think that they don’t deserve it or that they’ll never have it or it’s bad to have it.
Angel Rich: Yes. I like to say that we help people reduce their apprehension towards finance. As a researcher I’ve found that often times the vernacular of finance is really what scares people, so we provide our curriculum that goes from birth to retirement in layman’s terms, and it walks them through the 12 major personal finance common core standards, and it helps them to exceed their mastery of that knowledge. And so, basically, by being able to understand the language and then also be engaged in a game, we are able to increase people’s retention of information in a friendly way, where traditionally they would be scared of talking about finance.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, ’cause like a lot of people get intimidated, perhaps, with some of the terms, and they think it’s some other world that they don’t belong to. I mean is it … and so … I love that when you went away to Africa and you had this aha-moment, this epiphany, that everybody really deserves a life of financial freedom or abundance and it made you quit your job. Was that kind of scary, to say “Oh man, okay, I’m going to leave all this behind. I just made 6 billion dollars for my company, I’m on the CEO track, everything’s going according to plan, but no…”? Was it … What did it feel like in that moment, where you just said “Ah, I’m going to change up my life?”
Angel Rich: Well, it was scary but not really because I felt like if I had just made the company 6 billion dollars and they put me on the CEO track and I was 24, what was the point in waiting another 30 years to become CEO, because they wouldn’t have made me CEO before I was 40 or 50. And so, I don’t think that … The youngest CEO at the time is the CEO right now, John Strangfeld, and I think he’s like 52, and that was like the youngest ever, and he’s an amazing CEO, so I first of all didn’t see him dying any time soon-
Melinda Wittstock: (laughs)
Angel Rich: (laughs) And so that would have been a very long wait, so it made sense for me to go ahead and start my company. I mean of course I could have easily went and joined another company, but I wouldn’t have been CEO of it, so I was in the best position possible to be CEO of a major Fortune 500 or 100 or 50 company, but I just felt like … They was telling … And I also vetted the idea for WealthyLife with them, and they felt like it could make billions of dollars per year, so the combination of all of those factors, plus I had a pretty good amount of savings that I had stored in anticipation of quitting, so it was just a healthy mixture that allowed me to be able to quit my job and start the company.
Melinda Wittstock: So, you’re a prodigy. I mean, here you are, on the CEO track at age 24 – I mean that’s not an every day occurrence, (laughs)
Angel Rich: [inaudible 00:07:39
Melinda Wittstock: So congratulations on that and the company
Angel Rich: (laughs)
Melinda Wittstock: You know-
Angel Rich: Thank you. I never thought of that. (laughs)-
Melinda Wittstock: I mean, like take a breath here, that’s amazing, and so what is it that put you there at age 24?
Angel Rich: Well, I would definitely say that it was my parents. I grew up with life insurance sales parents and they made me read all type of business books since a young age, and when I was a teenager I would have to do book reports and then review them with my mother every Saturday, and so I really think that having that foundation of business books as well as motivational books and philosophy books and all different type of stuff that they had me read … Still, to this day. Still to this day I have to read books and report back on what I learned, so that has provided a wonderful gateway into me being able to learn so much more at an early age. I was reading Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World” in the fifth grade when I was 10, while everyone else was reading Dr. Seuss and I didn’t even know who Dr. Seuss was.
Melinda Wittstock: (laughs)
Angel Rich: So I think just having … I really didn’t … and so I was like everybody else in the class that day turned in their report on Dr. Seuss and I was like “who is Dr. Seuss?”
Melinda Wittstock: (laughs)
Angel Rich: (Laughs) It was hilarious-
Melinda Wittstock: And so-
Angel Rich: And mine was on “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, yeah, but who’s laughing now? I mean what an amazing gift-
Angel Rich: (laughing) Right…
Melinda Wittstock: Your parents gave you
Angel Rich: Right (laughing)
Melinda Wittstock: What an amazing gift. And so, in addition to all that reading, because every entrepreneur who’s really successful is a voracious reader. I mean we talk about this a lot on this podcast. When you think of what’s the right stuff you need to succeed, and this endless curiosity, but also reading – constant learning – cause the environment around you is constantly changing, if you want to continue and need to continue to improve your skills, but also reading helps you connect the dots and see opportunities where other people may not, so reading is critical.
As a kid, were you also entrepreneurial? Did you have the lemonade stand or the equivalent?
Angel Rich: Yes, I have been an entrepreneur as far back as I remember. I remember, when I was like 2 or 3 years old, crawling into the bathroom … I’ve always been an adventurer first. I’m an adventurer before I’m an entrepreneur, and every day as far back as I could remember, I would go into the trash can in the bathroom that I just thought, like, was just like this pot of gold and I would take the items out, like the leftover rolls of the tissue and I would take the Kleenex box that my great-grandmother would throw away, and I would take rubber bands that my grandmother would throw away, and I would try to build cars out of em-
Melinda Wittstock: (laughing)
Angel Rich: And put my Barbie’s inside, and then from there, when I was 10, I became my mother’s secretary. She taught me how to type and work a computer and file when I was 10, and she start paying me $10 an hour, and then when I was 11 I started my first company, a greeting card company, and then when I was 14 I started working at Burger King and paying taxes, and by 15 I was Vice President of Distributive Education Clubs of America and I started selling cookies after school, and we sold so many cookies that we were able to take the whole organization to Disney World, and so I’ve just always had … and a bunch of other examples … but I’ve always had this inventor/entrepreneurial spirit. I love it.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. So, you decide then – you’re about to go to Wharton, but you go to Africa. Whereabouts in Africa were you?
Angel Rich: I went to Kenya and Uganda.
Melinda Wittstock: Beautiful. And so you come back and you say, “Okay that’s it, I’m starting WealthyLife,” and so what was it like getting going and starting the company. You mentioned that you had some savings, so were you self funded or did you go out and get friends, family, Angel Rich money and all of that, and how is the fundraising part going for you?
Angel Rich: Yeah, so from the first day that I started at Prudential, I basically lived off of half of my income, because I had planned to quit my job to start my company after three years. I had thought of the idea for WealthyLife when I was still in college after winning a Goldman Sachs portfolio challenge, and so I came up with the algorithm for the stock market, and so basically we went … upon that three years when I came back from Africa, I had about $100,000 saved up and I had two cars at the time, and so basically it was just the right moment.
I also got accepted into Startup Weekend Next, which was one of the first five accelerators in the world being conducted with Bob Dorff, and so it was just … I couldn’t have asked for a better time to be able to go off and launch my company. So I originally was just self funded and boot strapped, and then once it got to the point where I did need to raise funds, that became a little bit more difficult and it actually took a few years, and so I found a niche in winning pitch competitions. I just said “okay, so they give away money if you win the competition, I need money, I just need to get really good at pitching.” (laughs) And so I became the best. There’s no one that pitches better than me. And so-
Melinda Wittstock: So what makes you pitch well? What do you do in a pitch that really works?
Angel Rich: You know, I think that it boils down to four key things: First of all, it has to be a major life-changing problem. Then secondly, it needs to be an actual innovative, novel solution, then thirdly, it needs to have a huge market and then fourth, it needs to have a solid way to be able to make money and then as a bonus, traction of the company and traction of the founder with supreme confidence. And when you have the … not trifecta, but quadfecta or however you might say it … or quinfecta … of all of that, it really just becomes a show-stopper. And so I slowly, over the years, built each one of those components, each one of those 12 slides. I wanted us to be the best in the industry on each slide, and that’s what we’ve been able to do over the years.
Melinda Wittstock: Well I had the privilege of watching you pitch at an event in Brooklyn a couple of weeks back for Springboard Enterprises – a women funding women event – and you were captivating. I thought, we’re both Springboard Enterprises alums and Springboard is a sponsor of the podcast and I watched you and I thought, “Yeah, no, Angel Rich Rich is coming on my podcast, (laughing) she is awesome.” And it was an amazing pitch because-
Angel Rich: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: Well yeah but you hit every single one of those things and, I don’t know, most entrepreneurs know that they’ve got to hit those points – life changing problem, innovative solution, huge market, a way to make money, great team – ticking all those boxes, they’re all the right things, and yet we see so many men and women not quite be able to get into the … win those pitch competitions like you do or really deliver in that way.
What do you think stands in the way of someone who even has all of those factors that you just listed, but still just can’t quite tell their story. Is it something that women struggle with more than men?
Angel Rich: You have to have confidence, and I would say early on, I didn’t have the confidence that I have now. And one day, I think it was like year three of the Challenge Cup, there was a guy – it was some type of bio product … I can’t remember exactly what it was … but something he had, it was a life changing, amazing product, and when he pitched it was just like … we were in the middle of an accelerator class at the time and we were watching it and at the time I was known for pitching, and people was asking me what did I think, and I was like “Yeah, this guy right here is amazing.” Like I wasn’t on the level that I am now, I was just kind of known locally, and I said “well this guy is amazing,” and they were like “well what is it about him?” And me and the teacher at the same time said “Confidence.” And so, it’s like you just know it when you see it-
Melinda Wittstock: Right-
Angel Rich: It’s … you’re not BS-ing, you’re not begging, you’re like “look, this is what I got, this train is moving, either you’re on it or you’re not.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right, right. And so where does that confidence come from? I mean because obviously confidence is earned – like the more you go out and you try things and succeed and you get more confident over time, to what extent is it also a mindset issue? Where does your confidence come from?
Angel Rich: Yes, and I think that’s also what is the cool thing about confidence, is because you can fake confidence, but that’s really more so faking, it’s not really necessarily confidence or … I don’t know, but when you have …
Melinda Wittstock: They surely are. And so, tell me where WealthyLife is right now on it’s trajectory?. Whereabouts are you in terms of revenue, if you can say, and how fast are you growing?
Angel Rich: Yes, so earlier this year, in August, we launched the new sort of official version of our game for the first time with 15 levels in it, and we historically scale to over 250,000 downloads in two weeks, and we went to 50 countries and 21 languages. We were projecting user acquisition at 42 cent but we were able to get it down to as low as 24 cent, which is really amazing for where the industry. So much, in fact, that Google named us one of the top 10 apps in the world for 2017, we now have a partnership with the Top 50 Apps department at Google and a weekly meeting with them, and they said they are extremely impressed and amazed by what we’ve done, especially given the limited of funding that we’ve had so far.
But we are raising a million dollars right now, and we have 200,000 of that committed and it’s looking positive for us to be able to close the rest of the rounds, and my goal is to become the 17th black woman in the world to raise over a million dollars in 2017. So there’s only been 16 black women in the world since 2012 that has raised over a million dollars and I would love to be 17 in 17.
Melinda Wittstock: You’re kidding me? That’s it! Only 16-
Angel Rich: No, I wish it was a joke. (laughing)
Melinda Wittstock: Oh man, I mean you know that women and African American women and Latino women, Asian women – we all struggle to raise money, but I had no idea it was that bad.
Angel Rich: Yes, and that is kind of the story that us black female founders are trying to expose and tell. Like, people look at us with our amazing products and say why haven’t we raised funding, but then when we explain that “Do you realize that there’s only been 16 in the past 5 years that have raised over a million dollars?”
At the top it’s Jessica Matthews. Let me tell you about Jessica. Jessica invented electricity in a soccer ball and is getting it out to people in Africa. She was not able to raise any money in America, or not that much money in America. Jessica went back to Africa, she has family there I believe – she went to Nigeria and raised like 3 million dollars there. She then was able to develop her soccer ball fully, gave them out, and she’s now studied at George Washington University and they placed her on the cover of Forbes. She’s now raised a total of 7 million dollars, and she’s given money back to people in Harlem, so it’s like, that is a girl that also wasn’t able to get funding in the beginning, and it’s like, we are just really trying to showcase that we have these amazing companies and products and it definitely needs to be more of a sincere effort to put funding towards black female founders.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, absolutely. I mean this is one of the reasons why I do this podcast, because I think there are these amazing stories like yours that people just don’t even know about. When people think about startups, they think about Mark Zuckerberg, they think about the guy – the white guy, in the hoodie, who dropped out of MIT, Stanford, Harvard and hangs around in his garage, right, and women don’t fit that pattern, and the VCs traditionally have been so blinkered about “okay, we only invest in what we know and who we know,” and so Angel Rich, what do you think the pattern interrupt is that’s really going to finally change the game for more women like you who are doing phenomenal things. Like, I can’t imagine that you can’t go out and raise 5 million dollars right now-
Angel Rich: You know-
Melinda Wittstock: Cause you’re building something so scalable and so important.
Angel Rich: I actually, sadly, am still getting rejection letters, and so I’ve been pitching … I’ve pitched recently with the women there so those meetings haven’t happened yet, but some other people that I’ve pitched with recently, I still am not able to raise funding, and people have raised far more millions than me that don’t even have a product developed. When I pitched recently – and I’m not going to say where because I’ve done a bunch, so people won’t know where exactly – I was in a room with two other people. We were skinnied down to just three, and it was the first time for the other two people to be pitching on a stage like this. One of the groups had raised 6 million, the other group had raised 7 million and they don’t even have a product finished.
And so, and I’m sitting there asking for a million and they just completely dismissed me, and when I came back, they was like “how did you think you did, was this your first time?” I said “No, I’m actually 9th in the world for pitching,” and they laughed and they said “Oh, was that your ERA?” I said “No, you know 43 North, the world’s largest business competition, 11,000 people across the world, I came in 9th last year.” (laughing) So it’s like, I have credentials like that – the next Steve Jobs, best product in the country by the White House Department of Education, JP Morgan Chase … I should just wake up with checks in the mail and I feel like that would be happening if I was a different demographic, but God works in mysterious ways, so I’m just enjoying the journey.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, what a beautiful attitude that you have, given that, because some people could go away with that and feel resentful or angry. In your case, you’re just getting it done girl. You’re not letting anyone hold you back-
Angel Rich: (Laughing) Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: And I love that-
Angel Rich: I’m trying … You know what, I’m trying to change the world and I believe that we can, and based on the comments and feedback, like I receive people’s screen shots of their credit scores saying that their credit score went up after playing our game for two weeks. Like people are telling me in Spanish that “Thank you. Thank God for you providing this game,” because they’re not allowed to manage their finances and they have no other access to financial education but this secret game that they’re able to download on their phone and hide from their husbands. Like, this is real, life changing stuff, and so I’m not going to allow people’s biases with providing us funding to stop me from being able to change people’s lives like that.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, well absolutely. And what I love about what you do too, is that it is really truly helping people. I mean it’s going to have a very big – and is already, it sounds like – having a big, global societal impact around leveling the playing field, addressing big issues like poverty and racial inequality as well, because folks who are empowered financially are empowered, so-
Angel Rich: Right-
Melinda Wittstock: So this is an evolved enterprise. And by evolved enterprise, you know these models, that increasingly … Some of the first ones were like Ben & Jerry’s and Tom’s Shoes and a bunch of them that are really doing good for the world – those companies-
Angel Rich: Yeah, social enterprises-
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, those social enterprises are actually creating more value. This used to be like an intangible, like say when you’re coming to value a company or do a valuation-
Angel Rich: Yep-
Melinda Wittstock: These used to be sort of intangibles and now, increasingly, companies that have this social impact are, like, growing much faster, consumers appreciate them more, and the company valuation is much higher, so you’re like on such a smart track there as well with the valuation. So what do you think is your big mission? Like are you going to just keep growing this and growing this and growing this, do you want this to be like a unicorn, or are you going to grow it and sell it and move on to another company or do you even know yet?
Angel Rich: I think it’s going to be a mixture of both. I definitely believe that we’re going to be a unicorn. Google actually believes that we’re going to be a unicorn and grow to be one of the largest tech companies in the world. In addition to addition to the social impact, we’re actually also changing the structure of the financial services industry by being able to cut their marketing expenses down to a quarter, providing them direct access through online distribution with consumers in international and emerging markets, and younger populations, and building brand loyalty and lead generation and all different types of things.
We’ve even been contacted by a major corporation to come build a wealth management platform for them, and I’m talking a major corporation. And so we’re very excited to be going out to Seattle next month to work on that, and so it’s just been amazing seeing the possibilities that the company can turn into. I think at a core we’re going to grow the game and continue to do that. We were approached by Google Education recently to maybe discuss some things in terms of the curriculum and the content behind it, so I think that there’s opportunity for offsprings and acquisitions, as well as for us to maintain some core things and turn that into a unicorn.
Melinda Wittstock: Aah-
Angel Rich: There’s so many unique facets that we’ve built into the game. Even the algorithm that I used to be able to scale it, I reverse engineered Google, Facebook and Instagram’s ad platform, even that could be spun off into a whole nother company, so I think the future is definitely bright.
Melinda Wittstock: Wow, it sure is. It’s blindingly bright and so inspiring. What would you tell … what advice would you give other women your age? Like, say they’re in a corporate job and they’re making money, they’re making a lot of money for the company that they’re in, and they have a startup idea. What is your best advice to those women in their 20s who are like “You know what, I don’t want to make someone else rich when I can make myself and my family rich doing my own startup,” so what’s advice number 1 and 2 and 3 for those women?
Angel Rich: I believe that anybody can change their life in 3 years if they have a real plan and they stick to it. I think the first step and the first year should be spent on getting your credit score and your budget together and your savings. Take out your credit score, map out whatever debt you have, take out your budget and bank statements, go through them and reduce your spending by at least 20-30%. Start putting up 10% of whatever you save toward paying off your debt to increase your credit score and put the other 20% in savings, cause you’re going to need money to live off of.
Increase your knowledge. Whatever you’re actually trying to do, you should have it written out. @wealthylifers @angelrich27Click to tweet
Then, in year two, you have to increase your knowledge. Whatever you’re actually trying to do, you should have it written out, have some type of written plan by then, have some type of foundation, be reading books, attending meetings and just basically developing their exposure around whatever company or idea that they have.
And then thirdly, by the third year they have to have their image together – some type of brand that they’ve developed for the company, some type of personal brand for themselves, mentors that they’ve gathered, key influencers, a potential customer. They’ve gone out and done customer discovery. They’ve walked through the malls and asked people what they felt about their idea, they’ve maybe even gone as far as, by the end of year three, having developed some wire frames and some product specifications, and then at that point, go ask for a letter of commitment or intent from a potential customer.
When I went to go ask for my first letter of intent, I left with a contract for three schools, and that was my first revenue, so we started on revenue and the Chair of the Charter School Development Corporation actually proof read my curriculum-
Melinda Wittstock: Aah, that’s wonderful-
Angel Rich: Yeah, so if you follow that pattern and you line your ducks up in a row and you have a foundation set, it should be pretty easy to lift off. And then you have those savings that you started working on in year 1 to be able to fall back on.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I love this three year plan. It’s very thoughtful, and there’s something else that you said that I think is so critical. Go do the customer interviews before you’re at a wire framing stage.
Angel Rich: Oh yes-
Melinda Wittstock: You know before you build the product-
Angel Rich: You know what, that right there, I’m at the point now where I can start telling people my secret. That right there boggles … there’s a lot of mistakes that I see people make, and that is … I would give that one number two.
Melinda Wittstock: (laughs) That’s a really big-
Angel Rich: I had no idea-
Melinda Wittstock: It’s a big mistake. People build stuff. I used to do some volunteer coaching for Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project … Tony Hseih, founder of Zappos for people that don’t know, he had all this money when he sold Zappos to Amazon, he was going to remake downtown Las Vegas, which is awesome. And part of that … part of his investment went into startups and so I was one of their cloud coaches. And I would come on the phone to all of these startups and they’d be really excited and really eager and they’d say … I’d say “hey, how can I help?” And they’d say “Oh, well my product, it does that and it does that and it does this and this and that,” and I’d say “hey, that’s great, how can I help?” And they’d say “And my product, it does this and it does that and it does this and (laughing).” “That’s great!”
Meanwhile I’m … I’d usually devote a half an hour for each of these calls and it’d be about 20 minutes in and I’d say “well, who are your customers?” And there’d be this long silence. Like not only did they not have any, but they hadn’t thought about who their customers were, and they hadn’t done customer interviews and they hadn’t done any customer discovery, and so they had built … they had spent money on a hypothesis without testing it first. I think that’s a huge huge mistake, and you rank that one as Mistake #2. Oh, my goodness. What is Mistake #1?
Angel Rich: Not figuring out how you’re going to make money off of it.
Melinda Wittstock: (laughing) Yeah, that’s a pretty common one as well, which is funny-
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: When we’re talking about entrepreneurs-
Angel Rich: It boggles my mind! These people get millions invested in them!
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yeah, I mean a lot of them like Snapchat-
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: Twitter, all those. It’s just like “oh, well, if we have a lot of people, we’ll figure it out later.”
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: Women-
Angel Rich: I mean it works if you’ve got a whole bunch of money behind … well it can work sometimes if you’ve got a whole bunch of money behind you, but for the most part as we both know, 95% of startups fail, and I believe those two reasons right there are half of the problem.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s really true, but you see I don’t know of any women … and I am happy to be corrected here if anyone wants to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org … and tell me if they know any woman who’s ever raised money for a startup that doesn’t have a really credible business model and traction already. I know lots of guys-
Angel Rich: Yeah[inaudible 00:34:24-
Melinda Wittstock: Guys have done the back of the envelope thing, but do you know any woman who’s ever actually pulled that off?
Angel Rich: No. No. Nope.
Melinda Wittstock: (laughing) I guess we have to prove … we’re funded-
Angel Rich: (laughing)
Melinda Wittstock: Here’s the funny thing, I think Angel Rich, I think we’re funded on proof-
Angel Rich: I’ve never thought of that-
Melinda Wittstock: And men are funded on potential.
Angel Rich: Yes! I agree.
Melinda Wittstock: And that equation needs to change, because I see a lot of women not taking moon shots and and I don’t know whether we’re holding ourselves back or whether society’s holding us back, or it’s a combination of both. What do you think about that? What do you think is … what can we do to change the game and really change this whole ecosystem that makes us have to really prove it, puts us on the defensive, makes us ask for less money than we need-
Angel Rich: You know what I honestly think? I think that more women need to actually invest in other women and diverse women-
Melinda Wittstock: Yes-
Angel Rich: I think over the last two or three years there’s been a lot of organizations that’s come together to be able to showcase women … I’m deeply honored to have been able to pitch at Springboard recently, especially given my history with Amy, and so I would love to see stuff like that continue to grow and it’s actually a structure. At the end, actually say “who wants to invest?” And then they actually guide the process or something … I’m not talking about just Springboard, I’m talking about anybody in general, going to see whoever … but actually just guide the process, connect people … like okay, you have a female founder that’s already been vetted by the organization, you have investors on this end that’s already been vetted. This person does FinTech, these investors are interested in FinTech, you guide the whole process of putting them in the room together and making sure they actually get funded.
I have no clue why that doesn’t happen. For the most part, Angel Rich groups guide you all the way through the process and then you’re on your own when it comes to actually receiving the funding, and I think as diverse and female entrepreneurs, we need help on that last layer of actually receiving the money until we get this train moving like it already does for men naturally.
Melinda Wittstock: I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s one of the reason’s I’ve launched this podcast … one of my … so I don’t have just one moon shot, but this … I have a couple, but the relevant one here is that I wanna invest in a hundred female run and founded businesses in the next 10 years.
Angel Rich: Well we would love to accept your investment. (laughs)
Melinda Wittstock: (Laughs) Well, it sounds like a good bet to me. Here’s the other thing too that guys do. They do this with transactions. They say “hey, I’m in, are you in?” “Yeah,” “Well let’s all come in…” and they share opportunities-
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: Whereas women are less likely to do that, and I’m not really sure why. Are we still all up in scarcity, weird competing with each other? We don’t want to let each other know where we got our shoes? What is that?
Angel Rich: I don’t know. You actually might have better insight on that one than me, but I actually experienced that this summer. One of my wonderful investors, Kim McClain, who is a beautiful human being, threw me the most amazing party I’ve ever had thrown for me or ever attended, really, at her home. She invited all her different friends and sisters and all different types of people, and a bunch of different women said that they wanted to invest, and surely they had the funds to be able to do so, but when it came down to it, nobody actually invested except for Kim, and me and Kim both were very confused. What’s the issue?
Melinda Wittstock: Hmm.
Angel Rich: So I’m not really sure necessarily. I was kind of actually surprised. At first I thought that there was just a lack of women investors, and I’ve actually come across more of them over the past year, but besides Kim … actually, Kim is my only female investor.
Melinda Wittstock: See, now this is really interesting about what it takes to make women invest, because increasingly there are more VC firms that are female run and founded, increasingly there are starting to be general partners or women on the investment committees of venture capitalists, private equity is starting to get more involved in funding growth stage startups. There are family offices.
There are a bunch of different ways, but I’ve found that women with a lot of money and they’re more likely to give money to charity, which is awesome, everyone should give money to charity – that’s great. But why not give money and enrich a group of women and more women and then that way we could use leverage and make even … give even more money to charity. Right? Just understand this concept of leverage. So I don’t really understand a lot of the reticence of women to invest in other women, and that’s really something that I want to change with this podcast and why I’m doing this, because I think the more that we hear and listen to each other’s stories and get inspired and really help each other out and write checks for each other, the better we’re all going to do and we’re going to slowly but surely – and hopefully accelerate the speed – in which we really lift up all women. Hence the name Wings. (laughing) of inspired business. That’s why I called it Wings-
Angel Rich: I think that that is the exact mission and perfect mission. I think you could actually change the world if you get that mission across to women and I think you have the proper platform to be able to do that, because I think that exactly what you just said. Women will donate to charity and start charities all day long and will donate money, but for some reason, will not necessarily invest that money as much, and so it’s almost like okay, they see this as a tax write off, but I don’t get why … why not then just put … or then they want to do good, so why not just put your money in a social enterprise and you’re helping out women and possibly going to change the world and build a business and make you money at the same time.
So however you can get that message across to women worldwide, I think that that would be a wonderful mission and things to talk about, and gathering people together, like Sheryl Sandberg and just having people really start to have a conversation around that, I think that would actually help women with investing.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. So beautifully said. We can do well and do good at the same time-
Angel Rich: Right-
Melinda Wittstock: For each other, and really level the playing field, so this is awesome-
Angel Rich: It’s almost like … you’re hitting it on the head. Oh, this might even be a research study. Maybe we should partner on a research study. It’s almost as if there is a fear … almost as if “no, you’re not allowed to make money and do good, as a woman you just have to do good. You can’t also make money.” It’s weird-
Melinda Wittstock: It is-
Angel Rich: Because it’s almost like a psychological barrier there or something-
Melinda Wittstock: It is weird and it’s something to do with the way we’ve been acculturated-
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: That somehow we’re not allowed to want to be wealthy or I don’t know-
Angel Rich: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: Whether it’s … cause to be wealthy truly is to be independent, and no one can mess with us, right?
Angel Rich: Independently wealthy.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. So no one can mess with us. Maybe over time we have this in our mindset or some sort of limiting believe that we think that we can’t stand up in our full feminine power. I heard someone describe it once as the-
Angel Rich: But you know what? I remember this. I remember this from the women … I worked on the women’s financial experience study at Prudential Financial. I definitely would say check that out. And I remember the results came back. Women said that they didn’t trust themselves to make proper decisions-
Melinda Wittstock: Wow-
Angel Rich: And so that … I remember … that’s actually coming to me now. We were talking about that in terms of investments and stocks, not necessarily startups and social enterprises, but that is I think maybe … I don’t know if they’ve added startups into the study, now, but that might be something interesting to review.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, absolutely it is. That’s so interesting that we don’t trust our … Angel Rich, you’re changing that though, with the financial literacy. As we get more confidence, as women in this generation of startups, as we all start to have exits, as we all have a lot more capital to be able to invest, as we all help each other grow each other’s businesses, I think there’s a collective confidence.
I think too … I’m much older than you, and I remember when my first business, early 2000s, there weren’t a lot of resources for women, so it felt very lonely. There weren’t really any accelerators, it was really expensive, the barriers to entry for a startup were so much higher, it was a lot harder. It was very isolating, very lonely. Nobody really knew or understood you. You felt a bit like a freak to be an entrepreneur, whereas now, everybody wants to be an entrepreneur and there are so many resources, so I think as we pool these resources and level the playing field, a lot of this will – I hope, trust, believe – start to change.
Angel Rich: Yeah, definitely. Even when I first started in 2013, there weren’t a lot. I was at the very beginning of this whole startup movement and a lot of things got built around me and I’m actually kind of like the founding member of a lot of these accelerators and programs, so it’s interesting from my semi-young … cause I was told I’m looking like an auntie the other day … so even from my young perspective-
Melinda Wittstock: (Laughing) That’s funny. Well actually, it’s true, because 2013 until now, just in the last 4 years has been remarkable change. So maybe we can apply Moore’s Law. For those who don’t know Moore’s Law, you know the Intel chip … it keeps increasing or doubling it’s processing power every two years, so you apply that theory to confidence building for women so we have the confidence to make and follow through on investment decisions and supporting each other. I kind of like that.
All right, well this was awesome. Angel Rich, it’s so amazing and inspiring talking to you. Thank you so much.
Angel Rich: Thank you! It’s been wonderful being on your show and I’d love to come back any time that you’ll have me.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, I would love to have you come back and talk a lot, because there’s so much wisdom, and just follow your experience as you go on this journey. Every day in an entrepreneur’s life, so much can happen – even within the hour – all the ups and downs and challenges.
In the meantime though, how can people can find you and how can people sign up and download your awesome app?
Angel Rich: Definitely. Definitely check out our website at getwealthylife.com. If anyone is interested in investing or having me speak they can contact me at Angel Rich@getwealthylife.com and my team will respond to you. Also, download CreditStacker on Google Play and iOS and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at WealthyLifers or me personally at Angel RichRich27. And I’m most active on Facebook at Angel Rich, though I’m trying to transition to Instagram more (laughing) cause I’m such an auntie now.
Melinda Wittstock: I know, I’m like that too. I spend a lot more time on Facebook than Instagram and my daughter is always giving me a hard time for that. She’s 14 and she goes on Instagram, so I got to-
Angel Rich: My sister is the Instagram queen, so I definitely have to do better about getting on Instagram. I’m actually not that old. I’m 30, so I’m kind of in that middle cusp of the last year of Generation Y, so basically I have to catch up with the Instagram thing-
Melinda Wittstock: (Laughing) I have no doubt. I have no doubt. Angel Rich, thank you so much.
Angel Rich: Thank you, have a wonderful day.