While celebrating our 6th anniversary we’re feeling retrospective and a tad bit sentimental. We asked our three founders to reflect…
As we celebrate our 6th anniversary of launching blooom to the public I was reminiscing back to some of the very early memories at blooom and felt compelled to share this as I think it goes a long way to help explain why all of us at blooom feel so strongly about the mission we are on to help a new segment of investors secure a better retirement and find more piece of mind.
The truth is, it all started with an email exchange between Kevin Conard (blooom co-founder) and me back in January 2013. It was late at night, I remember we were both online working after we had put our kids to bed. In one of the emails that were going back and forth between us he said the following, which is now emblazoned in large print on the wall of the blooom office:
“Wall Street has made a habit of running in the opposite direction of investors with small accounts…maybe we should build something and run towards them.”
I have probably typed and/or said that line a hundred times over the past 7 years and I still get goosebumps every single time. To me that perfectly sums up why we started on this journey – to build a new financial services company that is hell bent on serving the massively underserved population of investors and savers that have, for the most part, been ignored by Wall Street when it comes to quality financial advice.
Personally, blooom has tremendous meaning to me. I lost my Dad at the age of 63 and I watched him pass away having had a grand total of zero days in retirement. I often think about – what if something like blooom had existed 40 years ago when my Mom and Dad were just getting started with their careers and our family. What if a financial services company had actually cared enough to try to help my parents (who had very little investable assets) with their financial journey? Maybe, just maybe, they could have been provided with some crucial and helpful advice way back then that could have set them on a course that would have allowed my Dad to retire at age 60. Then he would have had a few precious years to enjoy retirement with my Mom. He could have spent a bit more time his grandkids. He could have taken a few more road-trips to see all those random off the beaten path sites that he loved to stop and see…The worlds biggest ball of twine, the worlds deepest hand dug well, etc.
Wealthy clients have, for decades, had troves of financial advisors lined up to provide valuable advice and counsel. I have always believed that it was people like my own Mom and Dad who would benefit much more from having access to advice. With blooom, we feel like we have a very real chance to reach the millions of folks in America that are in situations not too dissimilar to what my parents were in. Hard working, raising a family, and hoping that somehow in the end things will work out.
At blooom we are focused on tipping the scales from hoping things will work out to – HERE IS HOW IT CAN WORK OUT.
So as I reflect on how fast these past 6 years have gone since we went live, I am proud of a lot of the milestones that we have passed along the way. Things like:
- Winning Best of Show at Finovate Fall 2014
- Raising our first round of venture capital in September 2015. No small feat for a Kansas based company!
- Kauffman Foundation’s “One in a Million” competition in November 2015
- Raising our 2nd round of venture capital in January 2017
- Reached $1 billion of assets under management by July 2017, less than 3 years post launch
- Reaching $4 billion of assets under management by December 2019
But what I am more proud about is the feedback we get from our clients. The stories folks share with us reaffirms that we are reaching the right audience. And I know everyone on the blooom team realizes that we have a unique and important opportunity to change the financial trajectory for a large number of Americans. Folks that looked just like my parents did all those years ago. We know that there is a very good chance we are giving the gift of time to this segment of under-served savers so that maybe, just maybe, they will have more of those precious years of financial independence to take some of those road-trips that my Dad wasn’t able to do.
The inspiration for blooom came from three different potential clients that landed on the doorstep of the original investment firm, The Retirement Planning Group (TRPG), that Chris and I started. One person was a woman that was recently divorced and with that most of her non-retirement savings had been eroded. The second individual was my dental hygienist. She had a lot of questions about her retirement plan at work – pretty tough to tell her what to do with a suction-thingy in my mouth. And the last person was a proactive college graduate that had just started his first job. All of these individuals had two things in common – 1. They all had a 401k. 2. No one wanted to help them.
At the time, TRPG just wasn’t equipped to be able to take them on as “official” clients. I pointed them in the right direction and gave them some recommendations, but I knew there was very little chance they would execute the advice given them.
I guess you could say that guilt got the better part of me and from there, I reached out to Chris on a cold night in January via email and told him that we really should build a financial solution for all the investors that Wall Street doesn’t want to work with.
And from there, blooom was born.
Every startup has the opportunity to change the world. We may not have changed the world yet but I like to think we changed the future of thousands of people by bringing blooom to them.
Finovate Award Methodology:
– Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
– Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.
– The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
– The companies with the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named Best of Show.
– FinDEVr Award Winners were selected from presenters only on the second day.
Published on September 25, 2020