Do you remember back when the EasyBake oven was coolest toy ever? It kept kids productive for hours, familiarizing them with the basic processes of cooking while eliminating the risk of failure, confusion, or burnt children. So when it came time to use the big kid ovens, they could cook some pretty awesome stuff without blinking twice because they’d done it a million times before.
A mobile app called Acorns has a similar concept, but with investing; it enables people to invest small change on the go. Inspired for college students, Acorn’s piggybank investing model strives to take away the difficulties involved with investing, like hidden fees, hefty commissions, and risky propositions, so people can start investing sooner with less stress. In fact, the app’s name ‘Acorns’ was inspired by the old adage, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” perfectly summing up the company’s mission.
Like most amazing ventures, Acorns didn’t have an entirely smooth start: it actually took Founder Jeff Cruttenden about two and a half years and over 30 investor pitches to successfully establish his company. 30 pitches! That takes some serious resilience and courage. In fact, the first investor he pitched to told Cruttenden that this idea couldn’t be done and if it could be done, that Cruttenden couldn’t do it. So naturally, Cruttenden had to make his app absolutely perfect to prove him wrong. “Luckily, spite is a great motivator,” Cruttenden laughed.
While perfecting the app, Cruttenden and the Acorns team focused extensively on two things: making the design impeccable and optimizing the app for mobile users. And they were completely on point with these goals! Personally, I know I can’t help but trust a sleek, modern website exponentially more than an ugly, cluttered site; it intuitively feels like well-designed things just work better. And with investments that are accessible to everybody, ones that can be completed with spare change while waiting in line, there’s no excuse not to get started with investing (even to the broke college student surviving primarily on ramen and frozen pizza). I absolutely loved the fact that the Cruttenden’s took an industry built around tradition and adopted such a fresh, innovative perspective on it.
But what I found perhaps most refreshing about Cruttenden was his humility and natural presence on stage. Cruttenden had the sort of stage presence that made you connect with him, that gave you a feeling that this guy was genuinely open and happy to be there.
He had a quiet confidence that was constantly reflected in the way he spoke; he commended his team countless times and readily admitted that he wasn’t the best at everything. He talked about the humbling experience of realizing you’re not as smart as you thought you were, and how delegating responsibility is a seriously challenging activity that takes much practice. Hearing such advice and natural humility from a Lewis and Clark College Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa alumni with a Departmental Honors in Mathematics was definitely the most impactful part for me personally.
His advice to all the entrepreneurs out there? Be completely honest with investors about where you are, what you need, and how they can help, because they really do want to know how to help you. Show them your potential instead of telling them about your project by using statistics, trial runs, or business strategies. But most of all, keep pitching and never give up. So, to all entrepreneurs, NEVER GIVE UP! You might be closer to striking gold than you think. So download the Acorns app and start investing!