February 16, 2012
Eric Bell wants his company to become the trusted source of financial information for Generation Y. With information on saving money, managing debt, and investing for the future YoBucko just might be it.
Young people are going online more often to shop for financial services, but there isn’t a single place where they can learn about money and shop for financial services that target their needs. Plenty of companies out there are creating financial tools like Mint or HelloWallet, but who is the Suze Orman for young adults?
YoBucko is a personal finance guide with a wealth of information. Users can sign up for free to gain access to financial education on everything from paying off student loans to investing in a mutual fund. Through easy-to-comprehend articles and surprisingly interesting videos, users get a ton of advice on how to manage their money. YoBucko even offers tools like net worth worksheets and over a dozen financial calculators to help users plan and save. The best part about the site is the Ask YoBucko feature, which helps users get to the bottom of tricky financial questions.
Founder and CEO Bell has a passion for finance – that’s right, for finance. “I love helping people learn about managing their money,” he told me in an interview. “It’s kind of a weird interest for a 28-year old, but it is something I’ve been doing since I started an organization to teach young people about investing in college.”
After spending a few years in New York and Washington, D.C. at the Citi Private Bank, Bell decided to pursue this passion for financial education full-time by starting YoBucko. He’s learned a lot in the last eighteen months.
According to Bell, entrepreneurs should never assume people want their product. “If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that assumptions of market potential are simply that – assumptions,” he said. Bell believes assumptions were made to be tested. “Rather than spending all of your time and money building something people don’t want (or use), build a simple prototype or version one, test it, and validate your assumptions before investing more money or time.”
Bell also advises against going it alone:
This has been one of the hardest things for my company – finding partners. If you are a solo entrepreneur, like me, you can go a little crazy sometimes because you lock yourself in the basement and work twenty four hours a day. Eventually, you start to forget that other people go through this too and you don’t have to do everything by yourself. I’d recommend finding a partner to bring in from the beginning, and if you cannot, find organizations like Tech Cocktail or a local incubator where you can connect with other entrepreneurs. One of the best things I’ve done yet is joining NVTC’s FastTrac program.
Finally, Bell likens entrepreneurship to a rollercoaster and suggests entrepreneurs prepare themselves for the ride.
Running a startup comes with a lot of highs and lows. If you aren’t prepared or don’t love what you do, it is easy to call it quits. Make sure to have money set aside to cover your expenses for twice as long as you think you’ll need, and assume that it will take as much money as you plan for. Also, if you have a spouse or partner, make sure they understand that they are going to take the ride with you. Perhaps setting some reasonable expectations up front would be a good idea.
Bell sees a bright future for his company. “YoBucko has the potential to help a lot of young people get their financial lives started out on the right foot,” he said. “If we are able to provide reliable financial information in a way that young people relate to, it has the potential to educate and equip them with the knowledge and tools they need for lifelong financial success.”
YoBucko is one of our featured startups at the Tech Cocktail DC Winter Mixer tonight.
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