Gen Z is getting a dose of some economic medicine that has older generations recalling 2008 and 2001, and Uprise is here for it.
Jessica Chen Riolfi and Chris Goodmacher co-founded the company in March 2021 as a free financial planning tool for Gen Zers. Around the same time, they were seeing younger people invest randomly in certain stocks or cryptocurrency with no real education behind it — and losing money. With Uprise, they want to provide a tool that arms users with best practices and diversification techniques so they invest with more specific goals in mind.
Chen Riolfi knows about this struggle. Her background is in consumer fintech, previously leading products at Robinhood. She learned a lot about finances from her mother, who was an immigrant to the U.S., and taught herself about finances, passing that knowledge down to her daughter. In turn, Chen Riolfi built Uprise to pass her mother’s knowledge to the masses.
“Like many of the incredible fintech companies, they could still only solve a sliver of your finances,” she told TechCrunch. “I kept hearing from people, ‘What am I missing?’ ‘How do I manage my money?’ ‘Am I doing this right?’ I feel like it’s something that resonates with all of us. There’s this sense of wanting to make sure that everything is in good shape.”
Uprise isn’t alone in targeting the Gen Z market’s finances. We’ve covered myriad startups around the world over the past two years offering different approaches to this, including Twig, Anfin, FamPay and Mitto. The company founders also consider their competitors to be like LearnVest and family office startup Harness Wealth.
This company considers itself like a family office, too, but what’s a bit more unique about Uprise’s strategy is it takes in a user’s full financial picture, including some of those overlooked aspects, like employer benefits, and Uprise’s algorithm and human expert review offers recommendations on what to do with their money based on that historical data and best practices.
For example, you might be told that you have too much money in your checking account, so you move a certain amount into a savings account. Or increase your 401(k) contribution from 2.2% to 3.6% to take advantage of a company match.
“One of the coolest things is we’ve been able to find $1.5 million per plan to add to each customer’s lifetime net worth,” Chen Riolfi said.” Basically, there’s a ton of money being left on the table that people are not taking advantage of.”
That approach has indeed resonated with people. After starting Uprise, Chen Riolfi and Goodmacher, who was the second employee at payroll and benefits startup Justworks, saw their waitlist balloon by 33% in May to 7,000 people.
The company also took in $1.4 million in pre-seed funding from institutional investors like Contrary Capital, Hustle Fund, On Deck and Dash Fund and a big group of individual investors, including SoFi co-founder Dan Mackin, Gusto co-founder Eddie Kim, Cash App co-founder and CEO Michael Giles and Kin co-founder and CEO Sean Harper.
Uprise is still in private beta, but has tracked $50 million in assets so far. The company is pre-revenue and will always have a free component to it, but plans are to make money in two ways: by building a premium tier that offers additional features, like the ability to Zoom with your financial advisor, and to monetize some of the financial products recommended by financial advisors.
The new funding will be used to accelerate the company’s hiring of new talent to get more people off of the waitlist and to begin building integration so that implementing recommendations can be done in one click, Chen Riolfi said.
“There’s a lot more to learn as we make sure that we can hit the mark,” she added. “We are very much still focused on making sure our product has value. Helping people implement the recommendations is going to be a long journey.”