Anthos Capital and NBA All-Star Baron Davis back LA-based college tuition savings service, UNest

UNest, a Los Angeles provider of financial planning and savings tools for parents, including college savings plans and other beneficial investment vehicles for various life events, has raised $9 million in a new round of funding, the company said. 

Its round will be used to speed up its growth through strategic hires and partnerships, according to UNest.

Ksenia Yudina initially founded the company to provide financial planning and services to lower- and middle-class families looking for ways to start saving for their children’s education, she said.

Over time, the company realized that tax-advantaged savings plans for college tuition weren’t providing the range of financial services these families needed, so UNest added Uniform Transfer to Minor Accounts  management services to its slate of offerings.

The business attracted interest from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Artemis Fund, Draper Dragon and Unlock Ventures initially, and the company has now added Anthos Capital to its roster of investors.

Since its public launch in February, one month before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a major lockdown of U.S. cities and sent the economy into a tailspin, UNest has actually signed up more than 25,000 users.

The savings app is similar to other financial planning services available, but funnels users’ money into 529 accounts and UTMAs so that parents can begin to save for their children’s future.

“To me the investment in UNest is a great opportunity to help my community. It aligns with my vision that all kids deserve a chance to get an education and have equal opportunities in life regardless of their race or ethnicity. All kids should have access to the financial resources that make these goals achievable,” said Baron Davis, two-time NBA All-Star, current CEO and founder of Baron Davis Enterprises, in a statement. “As a father of two young boys, I care about their financial future and I know that other parents are feeling the same way. By making it easy for parents to step into saving plans, UNest is going to transform the future of the next generation and I’m excited to be a part of this journey.”

Users can open a savings account with as little as $25, according to Yudina. The company charges a $3 advisory fee per-user, per-month and on average customers are depositing around $250 per-month in the accounts, according to Yudina.

People who are more sophisticated and pick their own stocks themselves, according to a company executive, and see how their portfolio grows over 10 or 15 years.

“We have made it our priority to invest in minorities and exceptional female entrepreneurs that are transforming how individuals experience financial security,” said Craig Schedler, managing director, Northwestern Mutual Venture Fund, in a statement. “Our additional investment in UNest on top of our initial participation in the company’s Seed round is a testament to the tremendous progress UNest has demonstrated over the past several months. It also reflects the ongoing commitment to providing smart, practical financial solutions to people of all economic backgrounds. We are delighted to be part of UNest’s future in helping even more American families achieve financial stability.”