Startup Spotlight: WealthyLife Aims to Become the Gold Standard in Financial Literacy
Ever since she was six years old, Angel Rich knew she wanted to start a financial literacy company for youth. So when she was faced with the choice between a double promotion at Prudential Financial with an executive MBA to Wharton or the chance to start her company under well-known entrepreneur and author Bob Dorf, she chose to quit everything and go for it.
“It was literally, to me, a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Rich.
And out of that opportunity came WealthyLife, a company that creates financial literacy and workforce-development educational technology games.
“Our mission is to provide equal access to quality financial education all across the world,” said Rich. “We feel as though that anyone who has a dime in their pockets should also have financial literacy to go along with it.”
To accomplish this goal, Rich, along with cofounder Courtney Keen, are starting with a game called Credit Stacker. Credit Stacker simulates the credit reporting and scoring system to help students better understand how to use credit wisely. The program also allows teachers to create custom learning experiences for each student.
To develop the game, WealthyLife involved schools and students in the design and testing processes. Through the Financial Empowerment of Urban Youth study, a partnership with the Charter School Development Corporation and Building Hope, it was shown that after WealthyLife’s implementation students were 85 percent more likely to graduate high school and 76 percent more likely to own a home.
Currently, schools, philanthropic organizations and banks have to pay to use the program. But Rich is looking to “build a financial literacy ecosystem,” so she hopes that banks or the government will sponsor the program, rather than charging schools to use it.
WealthyLife already is taking steps to make this happen.
“We are entering into a contract with the Department of Insurance Securities and Banking,” said Rich. “They will be paying for our program for 15,000 students.”
WealthyLife also recently won $20,000 from Industrial Bank, recognizing them as the best small business in the Mid-Atlantic region. They will be using this new partnership to build financial literacy ministries in black churches. In addition, the Charter School Development Corporation is recommending WealthyLife to the Department of Education to be the standard for all schools, including higher education.
WealthyLife seems to be an overnight success, but for Rich, this success has been a long time in the making.
“I decided to become an entrepreneur before I took my position at Prudential Financial,” she said.
But in 2008, the world of education technology was much different.
“Gamification didn’t exist at all and nobody cared about financial literacy,” said Rich. “So, I was the crazy lady in the room screaming ‘financial literacy edtech game.’”
Realizing she was ahead of the market, Rich became a Global Market Research Analyst so she could prove the importance of financial literacy at a young age. Through her research, she found that “71 percent of people agree that you need to educate minority youth at a young age with financial literacy.”
And for Rich, the proof was in more than the numbers: She has seen the impact financial literacy has had on her own life.
“As soon as my mother saw that I could read well, she started providing me with all these business books, like How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said Rich.
And she says that having read these books at a young age is the biggest secret to her success thus far—and she’s not stopping now. Rich still has even bigger dreams for the company.
“Basically I want to be able to almost forecast the country’s, and possibly the world’s, finances,” she said.
Rich wants to build a virtual-reality world in which users can live their lives and play out various life scenarios at the same time. It is “a game for people to live out their life without the risk of losing their money,” she said.