LearnLux | Create Something You Wish Existed
Meet Rebecca, a serial entrepreneur working to change the world. From majoring in environmental science to living in Kenya to bringing financial literacy to Millennials, she’s out to make a difference. So what’s she up to now? Her most recent company, LearnLux, is on a mission to change the way people feel about financial decisions.
How did you get into entrepreneurship?
I never liked rules. The first time I remember being an entrepreneur was in girl scouts. I got yelled at for not making what we were told to make. We were all given the same materials and told how to make something and I always created something different, so getting into entrepreneurship just happened. Apart from girl scouts though, while I was at college, I went abroad one summer to Kenya to study environmental initiatives . While I was there, I became really interested in education and I started teaching in the school system.
I started teaching English in the primary and secondary school and tried to get people to realize how difficult it is to learn another language. A lot of my friends became teachers and we ended up starting an education company in Kenya. I started it knowing that I wouldn't be there forever, since I had to go back to school. But we created a plan to allow everyone in the community to run it, while I was gone so it wasn't in any way reliant on me. That's really what pushed me into entrepreneurship.
How did you learn about entrepreneurship?
Being in Kenya, I saw this huge informal economy where everyone had a company. They were selling eggs, chickens, or vegetables at the market. It's not necessarily a high growth tech startup, but its this huge area that’s not included in the GDP. I also looked at micro-finance and micro -loans and that was really how I learned about entrepreneurship - through that lens.
When I came back to the states, I was just so interested in startups and I started working for an environmental startup - which I thought was perfect because that's what I was studying and I had my hand in this other world. I loved it. After that, I worked for two other startups and at a lab at MIT. They were these very innovative organizations and I had so much power to create change. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I could do something today and see the impact of it an hour or a day later. Then I took a class called social entrepreneurship and that's what I loved. It was this element of social impact but through business which perpetuates a lot of amazing things.
How did you come up with this company?
It wasn't necessarily environmental science that I loved, it was really the ability to create change in an environment that was growing so quickly and that was the definition of a startup. For me I knew nothing about finance. I went to a liberal arts school because I didn't want to take a math class. So I was a junior in college, and I knew I had to start making financial decisions and I had no idea where to start.
I looked at what was out there and I couldn't find anything that was really for a young person who didn't feel comfortable with financial jargon that was accessible, that was free. I would talk about it to people in there 20’s and 30’s and constantly I would get the response “I NEED THAT.” So we just got enough interest - that we were like this should be a thing.
How did you come up with the name?
My co-founder and I wanted to change the UX of finance - and that's how we got Lux. The UX - because we thought finance is such a boring user experience, its not fun - so we wanted to change that. The L came because both our last names start with L. If it is was the F for Finance we wouldn't have been lux.
LUX means light in LATIN. So we thought how could we use this and one of the first ideas was LearnLux and after going through a million ideas, we kept coming back to it.
How did you go about hiring the rest of your team?
Well my Co-founder is my brother! He's in college at Bentley. We started the company because we had such different perspectives in finance. His first word was money. He studies finance. He has every finance app on his phone. When he was 15 - coworkers double his age - would come to him with their 401K and ask him to relocate their assets and other things that you would assume people would know.
How is it having your brother as a co-founder?
It brings a whole other dynamic. It’s really great for us because of the honesty and because we are so close, we push each other harder. We have a lot of conversations that I think most people would be scared to have if they weren't as close. It only helps the company really.
How did you hire your first employee?
Our first employee was Nick. We met because we lived in the same dorm in college. We were friends and we had done projects together in school and for a year he tried to convince me that he wanted to work for the company. I had started the company in school so he was familiar with what I was working on and he would always say “I need to work with you guys" and I would always say “No, no I have no idea what you would do. And then after graduation, he said "I have been thinking about this so much, I have a plan, I need to work for you guys." Like the best employees do, Nick took his outsider perspective and showed us where he could add value. He's been working with us since June and he's amazing! He's really the product visionary and takes all of our ideas and makes something that is aesthetically pleasing and makes people want to learn finance.
How does LearnLux work?
We are a financial education company helping people make life decisions through simulations and interactive experiences.
The difference between working for a startup and creating your own?
When you are a founder, you are the primary decision maker. It's YOU that people are investing in. Then there are just these little decisions that you don't think about making like these little things that happen on a day to day basis that you just never knew existed. Anything from filing paperwork to getting insurance for your employees, it runs the gamut and it's just this huge spectrum of high and low level decisions. The involvement never stops and there is never a time when I’m not thinking about the company.
Your favorite part about starting a business?
The constant change.
The scariest part about starting a business?
The constant change.
Do you have any advice to young women entrepreneurs:
My favorite quote is: if we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. I think people make excuses that they are not ready to do something because they are too young, or they don’t have enough money, or its not the right timing, or they are in a relationship or not in a relationship, or they are in school or anything to put it off. But I think you have to realize that there is never going to be a perfect time.