Just when Beatriz Acevedo thought she was out, a chance to start Suma Wealth pulled her back in.
The California-based company, which exhibited as part of the Battlefield 200 at londonbusinessblog.com Disrupt, is designed for Latinos, offering in-cultural financial content, products and experiences to help them take control of their economic power and build wealth.
“The ‘secret sauce’ is in the culture, not the language,” Acevedo told londonbusinessblog.com.
Suma Wealth is at the intersection of edtech and fintech and innovates on the blockchain. Some of its features include Sumaversity, which features classes and bootcamps on finance. It uses the blockchain to certify everyone through proof of learning and attendance. Users collect non-transferable tokens (NTT) and get perks.
There is also a Music Money Plaza where users can understand and build the concept of credit. The Credit Cocina, an activity food truck, helps users learn about their finances through their favorite recipes. There’s also a financial gym where Acevedo said users can “sweat out their debts” by talking to a debt expert. Users can choose an avatar, chat or turn on their camera and receive coaching in “a non-threatening manner”.
The app is free to download and there are some freemium features with a subscription level for the coaching.
Acevedo is not your typical start-up entrepreneur. Now in her 50s, she began her career as a radio and television host and, with her husband, Doug Greiff, started a company called mitú, a digital media brand for young Latinos in the US. Between 2012 and 2020, the company raised $52 million in funding for Acevedo and Greiff sold the company to Latido Networks.
Her plan was to get fully into philanthropy and work on her family’s foundation, but Acevedo told londonbusinessblog.com that when the global pandemic hit, she saw that Latinos were not only hit the hardest in terms of COVID deaths, but also in economic hardship.
It wasn’t that she wanted to start a company that could solve that problem, but after talking to financial institutions who consistently told her they were being challenged in their ability to connect with young Latinos, she decided to start Suma Wealth with Mary Hernandez and Javier Gutierrez.
“It doesn’t matter how much money Latinos spend, they’re always an afterthought,” Acevedo said. “Fintechs could tell me they had already translated their website, and that was the biggest red flag for me, because they didn’t have to, because their audience already speaks English.”
She went on to explain that when she told them that, their immediate reaction would be one of surprise and then relief, saying, “We’ll reach them through the general market then.” To which she would reply, “You probably reach them, but don’t touch them.”
“They still don’t feel like they belong in this money conversation,” Acevedo added. “There’s just that big disconnect there.”
The company already works with major financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley. It has also raised $3.3 million in the past two years. Acevedo told londonbusinessblog.com that Suma Wealth has just started fundraising for its seed round and is adding a business offering.
The first business partnership is with Verizon Wireless, which will provide Suma Wealth as a benefit to its customers, she said. Verizon also supports Suma’s Jefa Money Bootcamp for Latina entrepreneurs. After completing the boot camp, entrepreneurs will have access to an annual wealth building membership. The company is also in talks with other consumer goods companies.
“We are excited about all these partnerships,” said Acevedo. “We thought we’d be B2C, but saw so much demand on the enterprise side that we’re launching that employee benefits model.”
Meanwhile, she believes that Suma Wealth is solving the disconnect through the content and features. And the traction the company has seen so far is proof: it has a community of 615,000 unique users and is growing 27% month over month.
In addition, it recently completed a VIP pilot with 2,000 users over a 90-day period and calculated a 72% growth in connected accounts – an average of 3.5 accounts – over the last 30 days and customers 2.5 times a year. coming back this week, which Acevedo noted was interesting given that Suma Wealth is in the early stages of content development.
So far, 800 people have completed the boot camp program and spend an average of 60 minutes in Sumaversity sessions. The company also sees a 96.3% click-through rate to sources, a number Acevedo is proud of, explaining that when it comes to click-throughs, 3% to 5% is considered “a good number.”
“This generation is asking for help,” she added. “The two main questions we get are ‘Who do you trust?’ and ‘Who can we trust?’ Where we are now in the economy, not only Latinos, but Americans want to know how to protect their capital, and there has never been a better time for us to exist than now.”