An Interview with a Fintech #GirlBoss

If you had the chance to read my last blog about the Forbes Under 30 Summit, you might remember this iconic picture of one of my friends, Rebecca Liebman, and Ashton Kutcher. Believe it or not, Rebecca is actually even cooler than she looks in this picture.

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LearnLux: Your New Guide to Personal Finance

Rebecca co-founded a fintech company, LearnLux,  which is an online education hub for educating millennials on personal finance. LearnLux hopes to help young people understand everything from basic banking, to retirement planning, to insurance and building credit. Lucky for Rebecca, everyone (even Finance majors like myself) has trouble understanding the unnecessary jargon that comes along with making financial decisions in today’s world, so even though LearnLux has only been around for a year and a half, they’ve already experienced insane traction. And lucky for me, LearnLux is a Dorm Room Fund portfolio company, so I can brag about Rebecca and LearnLux to anyone who will listen, or in this case, read what I have to say.
While other companies have tried to enter this space, LearnLux is the only company focusing on financial education at the most basic level, rather than most competitors, who focus on advising. Other fintech companies that are targeting millennials, like Robinhood, Acorns, and Ellevest (my favorite!), focus on helping young individuals invest their money without the need for a financial advisor. The sheer number of companies entering this space says a lot about the need for finance-related products that are attractive to millennials and the disruption possible for big banks and other financial services firm that do not move to market to millennials.
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About the Fintech #GirlBoss

While LearnLux is in an extremely compelling space, I find Rebecca the most interesting part of the company. I was instantly impressed by Rebecca the first time we met, and we ended up talking about women in the technology space for over an hour and she contributed a lot to my research that I conducted last semester as part of the TechTrek West course. As Rebecca and I have gotten closer throughout the past 8 months, I became curious about the backstory of her life and what drove the founding of LearnLux. During my interview with her a few weeks ago, she walked me through several pivotal life moments.
Age 8: Was given an arts and crafts project and didn’t follow directions to make the craft, and made something else. This was her first experience in her life in which she was given the same thing as everyone else, but made something different.
Age 14: Started the environmental club, which was a huge leadership responsibility. While she wasn’t necessarily interested in the environment initially, she taught herself how to to be better at contributing to the environment and eventually ended up studying environmental science.
Age 17: Became editor-and-chief of the school newspaper as a junior in high school, which was a role traditionally reserved for seniors. This was the first time people hated her, which was a challenge because she needed to manage people who were older than her and didn’t respect her initially. She took the role above and beyond what was required, and learned she loved teaching.
Age 18: Decided to attend Clark University after being awarded the “Making a Difference Scholarship” which was the first time her community engagement was recognized.
Age 20: Returned from traveling to Luxembourg and Kenya and felt detached from Clark and decided to take a leave of absence. Spent her free time working for Boston startups and got a job at the MIT lab, where no one knew how to do anything finance-related. Boom. LearnLux is born.

An Entrepreneur in a Digital Age

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When Rebecca began speaking about her experience thus far with LearnLux, her passion was so evident that the woman sitting next to us interrupted and commended our excitement in our discussion (yes, it was weird and uncomfortable). From almost missing graduation for a pitch competition, to declining an offer for a “real job” against her parent’s wishes, Rebecca took huge risks and made sacrifices to make LearnLux happen. After joining MassChallenge after graduation, Rebecca quickly realized that LearnLux would go from a side project to taking up her entire life very quickly, and she was up for the challenge.
Though there is no distinct path for an entrepreneur starting a company in this digital age, I believe Rebecca’s path provides a good example. From a young age, she demonstrated the characteristics that an entrepreneur needs to be successful: being bold and brave, breaking the status quo, and not being afraid to be different. While Rebecca demonstrates the classic entrepreneur characteristics, I think her success comes in her differences. She is a woman. A very young woman. And she runs a financial technology company. Though Rebecca is a rare find, her differences push her to work harder and persevere against the challenges of starting a company, which is why I believe LearnLux will continue to prosper and grow far past what it is today.
Founding a successful digital business goes far beyond having a good idea and being able to enter the market. That is simply not enough anymore. In order to be a successful business in the digital age, you need a competitive advantage in addition to having a solid business. LearnLux benefits from having a competitive advantage that other companies envy and all investors crave: a CEO who has an inexplicable drive to make their company a success.

4 comments

  1. emmaharney21 · ·

    Great Post! I think it is fantastic that you were able to get to know Rebecca. Specifically I think it is interesting that you focused on her life growing up and how that relates to her work. I am interested in CSR and service and I found it interesting that so much of her past experiences was geared towards sustainability and service. I would love to hear here perspective on how she thinks that has played into her role as an entrepreneur, and the mission of LearnLux. I visited Learnlux’s website and I was curious as to what specific kind of Millennial are they marketing this towards, is it college graduates? If so is there a market opportunity to expand this to include non college graduates or even individuals in developing countries. You raised a great point about financial literacy being difficult for even business students. I wonder if there is a way that this platform could be used to help educate all young individuals on how to set themselves up for financial success regardless to their current status. I found this article that highlights Rebecca talking about who the product is geared towards you should check it out! http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2016/03/09/learnlux/ This was an awesome post that inspired me to look into the company further! I am even considering personally using LearnLux!

  2. I enjoyed reading about Learnlux. You wrote a compelling story here. I liked the way you interspersed the business, technical, personal, big picture, drivers, ….. I’m sure this company is using social media to market and solicit feedback. What are it’s main channels, revenue sources? Innovative to market to consumers with education about finance. You’re absolutely right that there is real need not only for millennials, but for every age group.

  3. sandytanny · ·

    Awesome post! It was great learning more about your friend Rebecca and Learnlux. It’s always exciting to see young entrepreneurs find success! I am someone who is also not that well versed in financial jargon and has a limited knowledge regarding personal finance so I can definitely see this business being helpful for many millennials. You would think someone would teach us this stuff in school but that is not the case. I’m also curious as to how the company is able to generate revenue seeing as the lessons are all free!

  4. katieInc_ · ·

    Awesome post! As a co-finance concentration student myself, I, too, am often embarrassed by how little applicable financial knowledge I have to make key finance decisions like making smart investments, setting aside income for retirement, and building credit. I believe that will only improve as these various fintech companies continue to grow in depth and breadth. Digital technology is a key tool to ensuring growth and sustainability of these companies, epecially LearnLux.
    Rebecca clearly is a #girlboss and her story inspires me to seek new opportunities, challenge the status quo, and be fearless entering unchartered waters. Her company empowers people interested in learning more about personal finance the tools to do so. She seems to be spreading the #girlboss power everywhere.

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