While small businesses were shuttering their doors at record rates, Tanya Van Court, the founder of kids’ personal finance platform Goalsetter, raised $19.5 million in funding. Here, she talks about what she believes to have been the driving forces behind her recent business success.
When I was in my late 20s, I had a job at a company in Silicon Valley. They gave me a bunch of stock and stock options (at one point, about $1 million worth). In 2001, when the big stock market bubble burst, that $1 million plummeted to $10,000 in the course of one day. I made myself a promise that I would never let that happen to my own child.
I had my daughter Gabrielle in 2005 and started teaching her about money from the time she came out of the womb. When she was about to turn 9, she said, “Mommy, for my 9th birthday, I really only want two things: Enough money to save for an investment account and a bike.” I thought to myself, “If I can teach every kid out there to say that I can change the world.”
We have two Americas, and the only way that we can close the chasm of wealth that has developed is by preparing the next generation to be financially healthy. The pandemic shined a light on the importance of our business. We had extraordinary banks and investors come in, like PNC Bank, U.S. Bank and Mastercard. We raised almost $6 million in our seed round. Fast-forward another year, and we’ve raised twice in a pandemic.
To be a Black female entrepreneur in a country that says in spite of your successes, pedigree, reputation, drive and ingenuity, we’re going to give you less than 1% of the funding that goes to entrepreneurs, that’s demoralizing. The pandemic shined a light, but the murder of George Floyd caused people to take action in a way that they had never done before. We have been able to thrive during the pandemic because before people didn’t understand the urgency of the problem that we’re solving for America.
There are funding sources who talk about supporting Black women and people of color and women overall, and there are funding sources who you know are actually writing those checks. You can’t spend your time on the people who talk about what they think they should be doing but are not putting it into action. You will waste all of your time. You’ve got to find your tribe. You have to find people who truly believe in what you’re doing, who are willing to introduce you to their networks. So much of fundraising is about networks.—As told to Jair Hilburn
*Editor’s note: Eligibility for the fourth installment of the 2021 Next 1000 list was determined using funding and revenue figures from November 30, 2021.
For the full 2021 Next 1000 list, click here.