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LearnVest Takes $16.5M in New Financing, Gets Ready to Go Big

"I'm really focused on helping make financial planning a consumer product, a fun product."
Ms. von Tobel.

Ms. von Tobel.

Today the bank accounts of the financial planning service LearnVest are a little more flush. The company announced this morning that it’s raised $16.5 million from current investor Accel Partners, as well as new participants American Express Ventures, Claritas, Carlyle Group founding member Ed Mathias and former T. Rowe Price CEO Todd Ruppert.

They’ve also signed up additional advisors, like Gilt Groupe chairman Susan Lyne and the former CFO of Weight Watchers.

“We were in a position where this came to us,” CEO Alexa von Tobel told Betabeat. “We were not fund-raising–we actually got the term sheet a week before my wedding.” The plan is to use the money to scale up, adding new hires and building out a new West Coast office in Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition to the cash infusion, the company is also rolling out a more fleshed-out version of its service. “After tremendous research and a lot of pilot testing, we’re presenting our complete and full vision of our product,” said Ms. Von Tobel. Upon upgrading to the paid product, users will now embark on a seven-step “Action Program.”

Each customer gets his own plan, which he’ll work through with one of LearnVest’s advisors. First you get organized, accounting for money in and out. Then you trim extra expenses before tackling the basics, like a retirement plan and one of those goddamn emergency funds we’re all supposed to have, before you graduate to big goals like homeownership.

Fortunately for those of us with no aptitude for money, there’s no step requiring meetings or introducing yourself, “Hello,my name is Kelly, and my pocket has a permanent hole in the bottom.”

One step at a time.

One step at a time.

All these steps now live on a single terrifying color-coded sheet. Rather than dumping everything on you at once, however, LearnVest parcels it out, issuing challenges. (Open a new credit card! Buy life insurance!) If you’re struggling, you can talk to an advisor. Ms. Von Tobel compares the product to Weight Watchers, which starts by simply telling you to clean out your fridge.

“Imagine if the same science and behavioral program can be applied to helping people really make the most of their finances,” she said.

Not that the company’s customers are necessarily the most budget-conscious; according to Ms. von Tobel, the demo that “really like” LearnVest is 25 to 55 and makes more than $70,000 annually.

Now that they’ve got the product nailed down, “we will be distributing it in a few major ways.” “One, as you can imagine, is potentially a large commercial partnership.” (Couldn’t hurt to have friends at Am Ex, in that case.) They’re also rolling out a workplace offering, for employers who want to offer another perk/help their employees from going broke.

“I’m really focused on helping make financial planning a consumer product, a fun product, something where you want to engage and you want to actually make progress,” said Ms. von Tobel.

Let’s not go too far, now.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com