The Greater Washington, D.C. region has sprouted a bustling community of startups that have helped make our nation’s capital become “home of the ed-tech revolution.” Within this emerging center of successful ed-tech startups is The Wealth Factory Inc. founded by Angel Rich, a woman who Forbes has slated to be the next Steve Jobs. Angel’s company designs financial literacy and workforce development education technology games, with her app Credit Stacker receiving 200,000 downloads within just two weeks of its launch. Supported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 28 cities, the National Baptist Convention, the HBCU network and other government agencies, The Wealth Factory’s mission is to reduce global poverty and create generational wealth through their games.
The D.C. native always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started reading business books at the age of 10. She started The Wealth Factory while she was a senior at Hampton University after winning the Goldman Sachs Stock Portfolio Challenge case competition. “Our team won with the algorithm I developed, that resulted in a net portfolio gain of 2% when the market tanked in 2008. I then asked myself, ‘how would anyone figure this out?’ It occurred to me that there needed to be some type of way where people can live out their financial life without the risk of losing their money,” she shared.
After she graduated, The Wealth Factory became Angel’s side hustle as she juggled her post-graduate job as a Global Market Research Analyst at Prudential and her budding business. Although her work at Prudential received many accolades, like being featured in Obama’s Veterans Initiative Research Study where her results were announced in the State of the Union, she continued to plan and prepare for her exit out of Corporate America. A mission trip to Salawa, Kenya inspired her to finally take the leap and give The Wealth Factory company 100-percent of her time. “While on the trip I met a little boy whose only piece of clothing was a t-shirt from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School, while he was drinking from a dirty stream. The experience rocked me; I realized no matter how smart he became, he’d never really have the opportunity to attend that school,” she explained. “No one’s financial future should be limited just because of where they are born.”
To help urban communities gain financial literacy skills, Angel chose gaming as the best technique to help advance those skills to create generational wealth through her apps like Credit Stacker. Although Angel’s company and app have received several accolades including Best financial literacy product in the country – Office of Michelle Obama The White House; Best Learning Game in the country by the Department of Education; Ninth-best ed-tech company of 2015, by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, she still experiences the struggles of being a black woman founder of a startup and all that comes with it. “A Black female founder—has enough hardships of its own, from being overlooked, underrepresented, and underestimated. Raising capital, in general, is quite challenging; as an African American woman, it’s magnified,” she shared.
Black women founders are receiving less than 1% of VC funding, according to Fast Company and yet Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, but it’s one of the many challenges Angel faces while growing The Wealth Factory. Nicknamed the “queen bootstrapper”, Angel is turning the lack of funding around by being savvy and resourceful with running her company. “These challenges have enabled me to build a lean company on limited resources; which makes us more sustainable for the future, and a great investment. We work harder and smarter,” Angel stated. However, she’s hopeful that the industry will start to open their eyes to all the #BlackGirlMagic that is happening around them. Some of the Black women she admires who are on the rise and making headway in the startup space include: Jessica Matthews (Unchartered Play), Dawn Dickson (Vending Solutions), Stephanie Lampkin (Blendoor), Maude Okrah (Bonnti), Erin Horne McKinney (KissIntel) and Esosa Ighodaro (CoSign).
While the media attention on Black women founders increases and helps peak the interest of venture capitalists (VCs), one thing Angel believes more VCs should develop when looking for their next investment is taking the opportunity to get to know founders on a personal level. “It would also be great if VCs could be more like Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz. When he finds entrepreneurs that he is strongly considering or simply wants to help— he befriends them and invites them to places they wouldn’t normally have access to. He literally brings people to a lake and teaches them how to fish— even if he never actually hands them a fish. That in itself is priceless. If more VCs would adopt that mentality, the entire world would change,” Angel said.
Angel is not only creating greater equal access to financial literacy for the Black community with her games, but she has also used her company to hire Black women and use her growing notoriety to create community and industry programs for Black women in the tech industry. The Wealth Factory is full of Black Girl Magic. Her c-suite and managing staff include several HBCU graduates and other Black women who help grow the company. “It’s amazing being able to be surrounded by such talented and intelligent women, who frankly just get the job done. We are lean, clean, and efficient – that’s how I like to operate,” she proudly states. Outside of the office, Angel is very active in her industry and has helped start meetups and communities like ‘Chocolate Innovators’, which aims to help Black entrepreneurs climb the startup pipeline; EdTech DC, which is the largest education meetup in DC; and Black Female Founders (#BFF), which works with Black women entrepreneurs and offers support and upliftment while starting a company.
Rich’s busy schedule starts at 8 a.m. and sometimes ends at 2 a.m., but her passion for creating access and helping people gain financial knowledge to build generational wealth makes it all worth it. Since starting her entrepreneurial journey in 2009, Angel’s learned many valuable life lessons that have helped her raise funds, launch Credit Stacker and grow her company. “It is a lot of work, and I’ve learned over time just how resilient I can really be. I’ve also learned how important humility is; how to be vulnerable with those you can rely on; how to be aggressive when necessary; and most importantly, how to just ‘shut up and listen.’”
Angel Rich is one of the many Black women whose grind is helping to make headway for other startups founded by Black women and for that, we salute her.