A lot of people claim their business is the next Apple, but Angel Rich is one of few businesswomen whom Forbes magazine has called the “next Steve Jobs.” Soon, she says, you’ll be calling her the 17th black woman in history to raise $1 million in venture capital. She’s also a Washington, D.C., native, the daughter of small business owners, and the first college graduate in her family. Whatever you call her, Angel Rich answers to no one but her own ambition.
Rich is the founder and CEO of the Wealth Factory, an education-technology startup that uses mobile gaming to make financial literacy available to anyone with a smartphone. The firm’s app, Credit Stacker, uses the addictive matching mechanism of games like Candy Crush to introduce players to the concept of balancing credit and debt. Each level introduces another aspect of personal finance that players must learn to advance in the game.
Ironically, Rich has struggled to find financial backers, despite having her creation named the best learning game in the country by the U.S. Department of Education for its pedagogy on responsible credit.
This is not unusual for a young, black female entrepreneur. According to Rich, the average black woman seeking funds for a successful business will raise an average of $35,000 in venture capital. By comparison, she says, the average failed business founded by a white male will collect $3.5 million in venture capital.
Despite this, Rich believes in her product — and her ability to sell it — so much that she was willing to bet on its success.
With just a quarter-million dollars in funding, Wealth Factory launched Credit Stacker on August 2 without purchasing ads, a traditional driver for downloads. Instead, the company depended on a user acquisition algorithm Rich developed based on her own market research. They got over 250,000 downloads in two weeks.
“And then I cut it off,” she says, “because I was just proving a point: that we could.”
Google was impressed and offered her suggestions for sustaining user engagement, another measure of an app’s performance.
Rich makes business decisions that steer potential backers toward her metrics because she is confident that they will like what they see. She encourages other entrepreneurs to make similar bets on their own businesses. So far, her bet has paid off: This November, the Wealth Factory was valued at over $8 million.
Credit Stacker is now available in 60 countries and 21 languages with a pilot test in progress for a version of the game adapted for deaf users.