We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.
Here’s a Q&A with with Michael Carvin, Cofounder and CEO of SmartAsset, one of the companies featured on the list.
What does SmartAsset make/do?
SmartAsset helps people make better financial decisions. We are a financial technology company that empowers people with tools and content to help them be better informed and make better decisions around topics like retirement, taxes, homeownership, insurance, saving and budgeting, among many others. Our proprietary technology, data integrations and unique Automated Financial Modeling software simulate the impact of different decisions on people’s personal finances, enabling people to make smarter financial decisions. To help our users further their financial goals, we also connect people directly with financial advisors. Users seeking the help of a financial advisor answer a series of questions and then are immediately matched to a fiduciary financial advisor in their neighborhood, who meets their criteria.
How many employees does SmartAsset have?
We now have 95 employees, up from 60 at the beginning of the year. We plan on doubling our current headcount over the next 12 months and just added a second office space
How many founders?
We have two founders: Michael Carvin (CEO) and Philip Camilleri (CTO).
What is your most impressive recent product milestone?
We are proud to say that we recently exceeded 50 million unique visitors engaging with SmartAsset tools or content in a single month. We get in front of our users in two ways: direct-to-consumer at SmartAsset.com and by powering personal finance calculators for third-party publishers, like Yahoo! Finance, Marketwatch, AOL and more.
What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?
SmartAsset’s mission is to help people make better financial decisions. We dream of a world where people buy things they can afford, do not take on too much debt, do not make mistakes on their taxes, are financially prepared for retirement and generally feel confident in managing their finances.
What’s an interesting element of SmartAsset’s company culture?
Every Friday afternoon for the past 5 years, a team member has hosted a “Tasting.” The host can pick any theme, but generally people choose a food or drink from their background that has special meaning to them. The host will speak about why he or she chose this dish and then we all enjoy it together. It has been an incredibly special way for us to continue to get to know each other.
Looking back, what motivated you to start SmartAsset?
In the pre-SmartAsset days, I worked in finance. When I was in the market for a home, I found it near impossible to find information about buying a home and getting a mortgage that was useful, accurate and unbiased. Calculators had obvious errors and the content seemed like it was all written by people that wanted me to take out the largest mortgage possible. Frustrated, Phil and I joined forces to bring people a dramatically better personal finance experience.
Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?
The original mission is the same: “better financial advice.” Beyond that, our user acquisition strategies and revenue model have both changed significantly. On the user acquisition side, we now utilize multiple channels to get in front of the right consumers. Regarding our revenue model, it’s changed in the past two years after we realized how impactful leveraging the size of our audience could be in playing matchmaker between investors on our platform and financial advisors.
What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?
Most of our competitors were (and still are) marketing lead companies. They operate on the concept that if they are successful at getting a large audience of in-market consumers to their site, then they can build a large business. However, SmartAsset has always been a product-first company. Our view is that if we are great at delivering an extraordinary product experience in personal finance, we will win consumers for life and generate a larger business opportunity.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?
Invest in people – the best people you can possibly afford. They’re the ones who will ultimately push your company further than anything you may have initially thought possible.
What are some exciting things happening at SmartAsset?
We just closed a $28M Series C fundraising round. This brings our total venture capital backing to more than $50M.