Rocket Dollar on Republic
Self-directed retirement accounts
Did you know that your IRA or 401(k) can be used for investments outside of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds? Henry Yoshida and his team at Rocket Dollar wanted to make sure that everyone, not just the wealthy, is able to invest retirement dollars in a variety of ways, including, you guessed it, crowdfunding!
We sat down with Henry to learn more about his product, how Rocket Dollar came to be, and more-
Can you tell us the origins of Rocket Dollar?
Rocket Dollar was founded in early 2018, and we launched our first product at the end of Summer, 2018. We’re coming up on our second anniversary in early February.
The idea for the business came about when we realized that there is over $$10T in old 401(k), and IRA accounts in the US, and over 98.5% of those assets are invested in only public stock/bond/mutual fund type investments. By the way, the $10T is growing rapidly too.
What investment products do you offer customers?
We currently offer two types of accounts at Rocket Dollar, the Self-Directed Solo 401(k) (launched in March 2018), and the Self-Directed IRA (launched in June 2018). Both accounts are available in Traditional (pre-tax contributions) or ROTH (post-tax contributions).
Who are some of your competitors, if any? How are you different?
If we are considering all self-directed IRA providers widely, then our largest competitors are Pensco, Millennium, Equity Trust, but they operate on different business models than Rocket Dollar.
If we consider the market of start-up tech-enabled companies providing a near document less online customer experience, and platform, then our closest competitor would be Alto.
Our business model is somewhat different than the industry as a whole, as Rocket Dollar is a tech-enabled, flat-fee, self-directed IRA with checkbook control (as opposed to a strict custodial model where the custodian makes all transactions on behalf of the customer).
What is the pricing structure of your products, and how does that compare to current solutions?
On October 1, 2019, Rocket Dollar launched a new, premium-level product at a premium price. With this launch, Rocket Dollar has two service, and pricing levels for IRA, and 401(k) accounts. The product that we introduced last year, and are currently offering is now Rocket Dollar Core (a few features were removed from the Core level). The new, premium product is branded Rocket Dollar Gold (press release). It has enhanced services, and for the first time, tangible Rocket Dollar branded items – checks, a logo checkbook wallet, and a Rocket Dollar debit card will be provided to customers. The Rocket Dollar Core offering will remain at our current pricing model of an upfront $360 sign up fee, and $15 per month recurring revenue compliance fee. The Rocket Dollar Gold account level is priced at an upfront $600 one time sign up fee, and $30 per month recurring revenue compliance fee. Rocket Dollar Gold customers will receive expedited account opening, and funds transfers, phone support, an initial supply of Rocket Dollar logo checks, Rocket Dollar branded debit card, an allowance for free wire transfers, and year-end tax form preparation.
What is your go-to-market strategy, and can you talk about your growth to date?
Rocket Dollar is an online provider. We have an online platform, and customer service
support emails, and calls. We have an affiliate channel through Commission Junction.
The sales team is exploring outbound sales programs in Q1 2020. To date, our efforts have focused on digital signups.
- Expand Affiliate Marketing Program, and support affiliates with content
- Write a long-form article every month about a content marketing topic that resonates with our audience
- Be more disciplined, and apply a project management approach to conserve resources in
- marketing, and use more effectively.
- Send a must-read email newsletter that shares helpful resources, and engages with subscribers twice a month
- Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising to boost product sales
- Be smart, and utilizing an Event Marketing strategy to engage, and attract new customers with both online, and offline events
We are about to pass $100m in Rocket Dollar accounts, and customers in all 50 US states.
Can you talk about the product roadmap, and how you see Rocket Dollar evolving over the next 2-5 years?
Rocket Dollar has a core guiding focus: to be the fastest, and most efficient provider at setting up, funding, and making alternative investments within tax-qualified accounts. Over the next 2-5 years, the company will have the most tools set up to allow customers to completely self-service their accounts digitally. It will offer a completely diversified marketplace of alternative, and private investments. An appropriate analogy would be to characterize Rocket Dollar as the Fidelity of the 21st Century.
You have several investment product partners (including KingsCrowd). Talk to us about how that fits into your overall strategy?
Rocket Dollar has traction in setting up an affiliate program consisting of investment product partners, personal finance websites, blogs, podcasts, and newsletters. In pursuing our B-B-C strategy, Rocket Dollar is beginning to work with large-scale partners, including one with 30m monthly site visits, to create custom content around self-directed retirement accounts, and alternative investment asset classes. This relationship has been formalized, and the content will begin to roll out in 2020.
What does your core customer look like, and what type of feedback have you received to date?
Our target customers are individuals who have over $50,000 in IRA/401(k) type investments. Our customers are average age 39 years old, 70% male/30% female, and have an average of over $100,000 with Rocket Dollar.
We let people tap an often overlooked source of capital (traditional stock/mutual fund investments) in an IRA or 401(k) to make alternative investments. The private, and alternative investment markets represent over 70% of the total available supply in America today, yet most Americans have the vast bulk of their investable assets tied up in only public market securities.
Who is on your team today, and what hires are necessary for Rocket Dollar to take the next step?
We have a well-rounded team, and segment groupings into product/tech, marketing/sales, and operations. Our goal would be to add additional product/tech folks to develop more robust customer self-service tools, and add headcount in partnership sales to keep adding large scale distribution, and alternative asset product partnerships, and providers. This will take place in the second half of 2020 based on our current modeling.
Why have you decided to crowdfund your current raise, and how will the capital be utilized?
Crowdfunding is currently one of the most utilized investment strategies amongst our existing customers at Rocket Dollar. It is a perfect example of a new age investment strategy. Running a campaign ourselves is an ideal way to bring awareness to the next level way to invest in crowdfunding opportunities: by deferring taxes for several years. We will use the funds to develop additional self-service tools, and build infrastructure to become an investment marketplace so people can genuinely create a diversified, hyper tax-efficient account with private alternative investments using Rocket Dollar.
It may be a few years down the road, but what do you see as potential exit opportunities?
Rocket Dollar certainly has a line of sight to becoming a self-sustaining entity. However, we think our business would be attractive to companies that either manufacture/distribute alternative investment products, and also provide financial services to affluent mass customers. We’d say that Goldman Sachs would be an excellent potential acquirer as an exit opportunity.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Henry and his team take the company. Rocket Dollar is currently raising funds on the Republic portal via Crowd SAFE with a $20M valuation cap.
About: Olivia Strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.