In this episode of The First Close, we interviewed Alexa von Tobel, founder and managing partner at Inspired Capital. Alexa is redefining venture capital by building the venture capital firm that she wishes existed when she was a founder.
Over a decade before she launched Inspired Capital, Alexa founded LearnVest in the midst of the 2008 global financial crisis, Alexa did what most founders would never dream of doing: she raised capital for a brand-new startup when the economy was facing a sharp decline. Alexa was confident that her novel idea for a company that helped the average person manage their finances at an affordable rate would be well worth the risk. Up until then, financial services were only available to those who had already amassed a great deal of capital; as Alexa points out in the episode, this is like making doctors available only to those who were already healthy.
Alexa’s risky bet did indeed end up paying off—her startup, LearnVest, sold to Northwestern Mutual for $375M in 2015. Alexa’s personal experience as a founder built the groundwork for Inspired Capital, which she founded in 2019. Inspired Capital is the venture capital firm that Alexa wished she had access to when she was at LearnVest: the partners at Inspired Capital prioritize planning, communication, and transparency in order to help their founders succeed. As a generalist firm, Inspired Capital’s portfolio spans a wide range of industries, all of which are connected in their common goal of defining the next generation of innovation.
In this episode of The First Close, we cover:
- Why Alexa decided to found LearnVest during the 2008 recession
- Alexa’s journey from founder to angel investor to VC
- Why Inspired Capital focuses its investments on durable businesses
- The traits that set Inspired Capital apart from other funds
- Alexa’s advice to VCs building their first funds