Follow the Money

With Personalized Advice, SEC Registration, and an iPhone App, LearnVest Leaves Mint in the Dust

Financial planning with the ease of the Google doc.

Alexa von Tobel is fond of analogies. Blame her time at Harvard, as both an undergrad and in the university’s MBA program–before she won a business plan competition and took a leave of absence to launch LearnVest, a personalized financial tool for those who can’t spare the $2,000 to $3,000 to sit down with a financial planner. (“61 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck,” she noted from the company’s sunny new Soho office. For the former Morgan Stanley trader–and head of biz dev for Drop.io–statistics tend to roll off the tongue.)

In the past, Ms. von Tobel–the first in a growing line of local HBS female founders–has called LearnVest, “Weight Watchers meets personal finance.” In a recent TEDxTalk, she longs for a “Biggest Loser” for household budgets. But in demoing LearnVest’s revamped new platform and iPhone app last week–financed by a $19 million Series B led by Accel Partners last July–she opted for something more ambitious, describing it as “LegalZoom meets personal finance,” for its ability to take hard-to-parse documents and make them accessible to the masses. Read More