Andrei Cherny, Co-Founder and CEO, has spent nearly twenty years working to make the financial system more open and fair. He combines a background as an advisor to some of America’s top companies, the co-founder and president of a media start-up, a financial fraud prosecutor, a historian, a White House aide, a Navy reserve officer, and a nationally-recognized economic policy expert. Andrei has provided strategic counsel to companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, and Bank of America. He launched and grew Democracy Journal to one of the most widely read idea journals in America. There, he worked with Elizabeth Warren to help start the successful fight for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A former Clinton White House aide, he was the youngest White House speechwriter in American history. His 2000 book, The Next Deal, showed how business and government would be transformed by people’s demands for more and better choices. He is also the author of the The Candy Bombers. He graduated from Harvard University and from the University of California Berkeley law school.
How did you get into the Finance industry?
I came to the finance industry in a roundabout fashion. I spent almost twenty years working on issues of consumer finance and asset building. I saw these issues from the vantage point of public worked as an advisor in the White House and on Capitol Hill, as a financial fraud prosecutor, and as a consultant to large financial institutions. We started Aspiration because it was clear there was a gaping need for a financial company that really worked for everyday investors.
Tell us about Aspiration. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
The mission of Aspiration is be a trusted financial partner for everyday Americans. We create and curate financial products and offer them our customers at low minimum investment levels. We trust our customers to pay us what they think is fair. And we give 10% of what the customers do pay us to charities that help expand economic opportunity for struggling Americans.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Aspiration's success?
We have partnered with other financial firms – large and small – that help us create financial products for our customers and bring once elite investments to everyday investors.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
There are a few big trends, and Aspiration is at the intersection of them. First, financial products – such as alternative investments – that once were only available to the super rich are now increasingly available to everyday investors. Second, Americans – especially millennial Americans – want to do business with companies that share their values and have a sense of mission. And, third, while the financial industry is increasingly focused on very, very wealthy clients, there is a huge chunk of investors who are looking for a financial firm that will work for them.
“Never tell me the odds.”
“Do Well. Do Good.”
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Find something that really just doesn’t work. Dream big in solving it. And then sweat the small stuff.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Big Mac and a Diet Coke.
What literature is on your bed stand?
“Wright Brothers” by David McCullough
Favorite travel destination?
What's next for Aspiration?
To continue our growth to be the trusted financial partner for today's generation.