Entrepreneur calls her “The Queen of Wall Street,” but Sallie Krawcheck just wanted to make a company that provided investment opportunities for everyone – and she raised $100 million to do it on her own.
Krawcheck, the founder of Ellevest, began her career in the financial industry, working her way up the ranks. She started at Citi Private Bank, then Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch, and Sanford C. Bernstein. After 25 years working in executive suites, she discovered that the world of investment is siloed, and often excludes women from becoming agents in their own financial stories.
She looked to endowments, pension plans, and venture capital firms to fund her idea but found that no one was interested – only later did she discover that her odds as a female founder were less than 1%, and that 99% of venture capital money in fintech goes to male founders.
Krawcheck did not give up, though, and instead leveraged traditional ventures with crowdfunding. She was able to bring in accredited investors from underrepresented populations with the help of existing investors. In April 2022, Ellevest raised $53 million in Series B funding, putting the company’s total fundraising efforts at almost $100 million.
Ellevest has over $1.4 billion in total assets under management and almost 700,000 users. As a business that seeks to reach women without financial experience, it has no investment minimum, and some plans start as low as $5 per month. The platform utilizes terminology that laymen and laywomen can more easily relate to, like saving for life goals, and it also provides money coaching along with wealth management.
"One thing I've learned is to have the discipline to find out how a firm makes its decisions,” Krawcheck told Entrepreneur. “I know I can convince two or three folks. But if they then have to go in to convince their all-male partners, I might as well not waste my time."