These Y Combinator cofounders are taking on Robinhood to make crypto investing accessible to Gen Z women

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin today, the House passes the CROWN Act to ban hair discrimination, and two founders are bringing crypto investing to Gen Z women. Have a productive Monday.

– Early investment. From the crypto community BFF to a celebrity-backed push for NFT innovation, crypto diehards are making an effort to ensure women are included in the 21st century’s financial revolution. But what about young women and those who can’t afford to put thousands of dollars behind cryptocurrency investments just yet?

Founders Eve Halimi and Anam Lakhani, both 25, are debuting a new crypto investing platform today geared toward Gen Z women. The Y Combinator alumnae founded their startup, Alinea, as an investing offering a year ago, and are now adding crypto to its functionality through a partnership with fellow YC business Alpaca, a crypto brokerage platform. They see their company, which has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from investors Goodwater and Kima Ventures, as a competitor to Robinhood and SoFi—with a younger and more gender-diverse user base.

Their thesis is based on a few different statistics. Gen Z’s purchasing power: $360 billion. The share of women who’ve invested in crypto: 7% in mid-2021. The portion of women who are single after age 65, 49%, and need investing tools that will last through retirement.

Alinea co-founders Eve Halimi and Anam Lakhani.
Courtesy of Alinea

Put these trends together, and Halimi and Lakhani see the need for an easy-to-use, educational investing platform that allows women of all income levels to build wealth through traditional investing and crypto investing. The social app experience, which also allows users to see where their friends are allocating funds, is centered on what they call investing “playlists.” A spinoff of ETFs, each playlist chooses a themed bundle of stocks and investments, from crypto playlists with 20 different cryptocurrencies to women-led companies or LGBTQ-friendly businesses. The minimum investment is $1, put toward fractional shares and ETFs. For crypto trades, the platform charges a 1% fee.

While young investors have flocked to Robinhood, Lakhani says that Alinea will be a platform for long-term wealth creation—not day trading. “People don’t think about the consequences of an app like Robinhood,” Lakhani argues. “It wasn’t designed with the intention of long-term investing, and investing in single stocks is an unhealthy habit. We wanted to create the opposite experience. The last thing our generation needs is another source of anxiety.”

To differentiate itself, Alinea uses a neutral color scheme of calming pinks and purples in an attempt to reduce the apprehension often associated with money. The app also features educational materials about crypto and investing. But the co-CEOs still see their platform as a more approachable form of investing than the longtime options that far predate Robinhood. In essence, a kind of middle ground between app-based trading and a robo-advisor. Alinea is an early-stage startup with a “few thousand” users so far—60% Gen Z and 70% women—who have an average account size of $1,000.

Increasing accessibility and reducing anxiety is one thing. Building trust with Gen Z investors so they feel comfortable putting their money into a new platform run by two young women is another. While the founders have encountered some skepticism of their vision—more often while fundraising than when interacting with consumers—they’re not deterred. “That’s a challenge with any sort of financial innovation, right?” Lakhani says.

Emma Hinchliffe

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