Genevieve Bellaire is on a mission to simplify adulthood.
She is the founder and CEO of Realworld, a free app that has published dozens of educational “playbooks” aimed at helping Gen Z navigate those often-challenging years after school.
From guidance through major milestones like starting your first job and opening a 401(k) to support for smaller achievements, like learning how to protect your mental health, Realworld serves as an easy access point to the resources its community needs to thrive — and connects them with helpful products and services along the way.
Since launching in 2021, Realworld has attracted the attention of world-class backers, including AmplifyHer Ventures, a women-led venture capital firm focused on funding diverse leadership teams.
First Republic Bank recently sat down with Genevieve and AmplifyHer partner Meghan Cross to discuss the business of “adulting,” the untapped potential of diversity-focused investment and how female founders can find the right partners to grow their businesses.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Genevieve, tell us about your journey to becoming founder and CEO of Realworld?
Genevieve: After I graduated from college, I went straight into law and business school, did a JD/MBA program and started working at Goldman Sachs. Despite being blessed with incredible education opportunities, I found I struggled to successfully navigate “real world” decisions like setting up my 401(k) and choosing the right health insurance plan. And the more I talked about it, the more I realized this was not a “me” problem. This is very much a “we” problem.
Our vision for Realworld is to build a platform where you can “onboard” yourself into adulthood. We provide a one-stop shop for navigating your finances, work, health and more in your early twenties through personalized “playbooks” filled with step-by-step educational resources and vetted services that can help you tackle day-to-day adulting and big life milestones. Our mission is to be the trusty sidekick for all the important aspects of your life.
Meghan, what is your mission at AmplifyHer Ventures?
Meghan: AmplifyHer Ventures invests in women and diverse leaders with hyper-growth potential. Only 2 to 3% of venture dollars each year go to female founders, but those teams provide 63% greater returns to their earliest investors. So we’re capitalizing on not only a robust pipeline, but also a relatively untapped talent network.
Our main thesis is that we invest in companies that create viral growth. My business partner Tricia Black and I both come from the marketing side of the startup world, and we’ve been on the ground-floor marketing teams of some of the more viral businesses of our generation. Our experience helps us ascertain which founders can create flywheel effects of growth.
How did you connect?
Genevieve: Meghan and I first met about 6 years ago through a MBA entrepreneurial fellowship program when we were in each in business school – we clicked immediately. Fast forward, years later, we ran into each other on the NYC subway! Meghan was working at a different fund and I was working at Goldman. I told her I was thinking deeply about the opportunity to build a new type of product category that would help the next generation navigate adulthood and big life moments, and she immediately asked, “How can I help you?”
Meghan: I wanted to be helpful, but Genevieve wasn’t looking for funding yet. We had these great brainstorming sessions and stayed in touch.
Why did you decide to work together?
Meghan: When Tricia and I launched AmplifyHer Ventures, it was the perfect fit.
We make decisions based on the team above all else, and we’d seen the particularly shrewd way Genevieve had built this business before even going out for venture funding. We saw her deep understanding of the target market's behavior.
We also looked at the potential for viral growth and saw early indicators that Genevieve was creating a highly-engaged community that — fast forward — has made Realworld the top app in the space.
Finally, we saw the enormous market potential in creating a seamless interface for every adult milestone that taps into the lifetime value of each consumer.
Genevieve: I knew Meghan would be an amazing partner because as an advisor in those early years, she had such high conviction in what we were building and had offered to be helpful for so long without having any skin in the game. Her mission at AmplifyHer also aligns with my vision for building a supportive, diverse, and mission-driven culture at Realworld. Our team is 70% women, which is somewhat rare for early-stage companies in tech.
What has felt most rewarding about your partnership?
Genevieve: With AmplifyHer, it’s right there in the name. The team does an amazing job of amplifying what we’re doing. They helped us secure the first press for our last fundraising round and constantly go out of their way to share our vision with their community. People still mention that TechCrunch article!
They’re also consistently checking in to offer support and help us think through our next steps. We’ve been very, very lucky to have Meghan in our corner.
Meghan: I get excited when we have these power catch-ups and brainstorming sessions. They’re also consistently surpassing key milestones as they execute on Genevieve’s clear, big vision along the product roadmap.
Do you have any fundraising advice for other female founders?
Genevieve: Make a plan before you start. Fundraising doesn't begin when you send over the pitch deck; it's a process that starts with finding the people you want to work with and making sure you’re on their radar so they can see your evolution over time.
Ensure you have a tight narrative around what you’re building, where you’re going and what you need to get there. Have a plan for the big milestones you’re planning to hit with the capital you take in, so you can have milestone-oriented discussions as opposed to capital-oriented ones.
Meghan: Tell your story from a position of partnership as opposed to a position of pitching. Genevieve is discerning and makes sure that her cap table is made up of partners who will further the business with more than just capital. Capital is such a commodity, and it’s about picking partners who can bring in more bang for their buck.
You should also think about why you need to raise capital in the first place. Founders can get swept up in the headlines around who raised what amount of capital, but that’s not a milestone of growth — it’s something you may need to do to hit your milestones. Many successful companies don't even fit the venture capital profile.
What’s next for Realworld and AmplifyHer Ventures?
Genevieve: We’re building something truly new, so we’re most excited about the product itself. We’ve built a strong, education-focused foundation, and introduced consumers to the products and services that can be helpful to them in tackling adulthood milestones. Now, we’re focused on personalizing that experience so that it truly feels like a place you can go for guidance unique to you, and expanding our product to tackle additional life milestones.
More tactically, in 2021 we tripled our team and grew our userbase 1,000%, and we want to do the same thing this year. We are continuing to build a sustainable, high-impact growth engine, and are always looking for amazing people — talent, partners, investors, advisors — to join the Realworld team!
Meghan: We’re growing our network of next-generation investors, and we've actually developed a scouting program modeled after the fellowship where Genevieve and I first met.
At the end of the day, we’ll continue to stay one step ahead and be a valuable resource for our partners. We're investing in teams that we know can drive success, and Genevieve is a great example of that.