Office Hours: I'm the founder and CEO of Realworld, a Techstars and Jeff Bezos backed company helping to simplify adulthood.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Genevieve Ryan Bellaire, founder and CEO of Realworld. We’re on a mission to simplify adulthood through a one-stop-shop platform that helps navigate everything from finances and health insurance to taxes and employer paperwork.

We’re backed by Jeff Bezos, Techstars, Fitz Gate Ventures and other mission-driven investors.

I have a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a JD/MBA from Georgetown.

Ask me anything about leading companies, navigating adulthood, and the founder journey!

Thanks so much for joining us @genevieveRB!Elphas – please ask @genevieveRB your questions before Friday, August 6th. @genevieveRB may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites πŸ”₯πŸ‘πŸΎβž•
Happy to be here, thanks for having me!
@genevieveRB I absolutely love working with startups that may need just a little extra support with the organization of operations, marketing, etc. I have just finished working with a digital therapeutics startup that is reaching its next phase and I am currently looking for more brands/startups to join forces with. Do you have any recommendations on how and where to find these opportunities? I have been blessed to have found most of my opportunities through word of mouth and relationships that I have nurtured over the years, but need to start branching out to find one that I can start small and then look to grow with as their timing/funding would allow. Thank you for the inspiration!
A question I like to ask founders is about their partnership program: When starting a partnership program, what do reporting metrics look like? From your experience, what measurements have been useful for those you report to?In short, when running a program are you showing that you are accountable to/reporting on metrics that matter for the business case beyond influenced revenue so that the program stays resourced? P.S. I used to work at Georgetown Hospital
Hi Genevieve, You have an inspiring profile and an amazing line of backers. I would love to hear from you about(1) your fundraising experience - any challenges you faced if at all(2) what are some of the interesting lessons you have learned from a CEO along the way that other aspiring women founders can take away.Thanks for your time!!
Thanks for the kind words! We've raised two rounds of funding now - pre-seed and seed - and each has had its own learnings. The most important things I've found have been to be super organized, turn on/off fundraising so you're not trying to run your business and fundraise at the same time (there aren't enough hours in the day!), have a clear sense of the company direction and traction, and build a team around you that can support throughout -- teammates to keep the company growing while you're raising, advisors and mentors to make introductions to investors, and other founders to provide guidance around the process and share their experience. (That last point is definitely my biggest piece of advice to other founders - surround yourself with good people!! This isn't a single-player game!) We were fortunate to be able to work with amazing investors, but there will always be investors who don't resonate with what we're building - fundraising is a numbers game. You need to talk to enough investors to better understand the ecosystem and who are going to be the best partners for you as you build a meaningful business. I feel lucky that the majority of our investors are people we got to know much earlier in our journey who have followed our path to date and supported us along the way.
Hi & Thx for doing OH. How did you go about getting Jeff Bezos as your Investor? I was curious how people that could be strategic to a given company and are maybe billionaires that have their own investment arms, work? I'm assuming it was through some sort of referral, etc. Thx.
SO are you saying you want Realworld to be the COO of my life? HERE FOR IT! :-) On a serious note, thank you for joining us for OH this week - super grateful for you!So I had a couple of questions, 1) how are you able to find your focus when you are trying to tackle many different areas (which I am sure from a product execution perspective it's also very very diverse)? 2) how did you initially pitch your company to attract investors and what type of product roadmap did you provide? I have seen a few companies trying to tackle similar challenges but VCs are reluctant because there is no execution plan, or simply too good to be executed.
Haha love to hear it!! :) You're exactly right - we're trying to tackle a lot and our product vision is very ambitious. It's exciting, but it can also be challenging to figure out where to start and how to prioritize. We've been focused on wedging into the market with the area we thought we could have the most impact and lay a foundation for long-term - education. The reality is that we can't help you really navigate life without first giving you the info and knowledge you need to make smart decisions. That education-first mindset has guided us since day 1, and helps us make sure we're building a super helpful, trusted product. Our pitch has evolved over time, but it has always centered on one thing -- simplifying adulthood means creating a new category. We've tried to pair our big vision with consistent, solid execution to demonstrate the opportunity in the space. We're the first product of this kind, and it's exciting to be able to build something new! The right investors got that right away and jumped in!
Thank you @genevieveRB for the very thorough answer! I like how you've broken this down for us - it's about laying a foundation and there are things that derive from it! I totally feel that on the pitch constantly evolving and it sounds like you made incredible progress since you got some pretty amazing investors backing you :)
Hi Genevieve! Thanks for sharing your time with us. I’m wondering about the subjects Realworld covers and whether or not they’re something more based on personal opinion - I’ve always thought it’s true there are so many ways to do finance for example, but they are strongly tied to other behaviours. It’s like is this a more moral call people should make themselves or we should standardise this kind of education? I’m attempting to gauge the larger impact of your company and what specifically made it appealing to investors, or if that wasn’t really a consideration in the fundraising experience. Thank you! Catt
Hi Genevieve,This sounds awesome, I could definitely use a resource like this. I have a few questions:1. About Realworld: Assuming Realworld will be speaking to a primarily North American/Western audience (??), how will you ensure accessibility of information provided (for instance, to folks from all different socioeconomic backgrounds?)2. How did you know you were ready to be a founder?3. What's it like being backed by Jeff Bezos?
Thanks so much! Yes, right now we're focused on serving the American market given that the content is pretty country-specific (there are a lot of differences around health care, credit etc.) but definitely have ambitions to go global :) At our core, our mission is to democratize critical information and help level the playing field around these topics, so we've given a lot of thought to making the content accessible to everyone -- that means thinking about things like taxes, health care, and other topics through the lens of different circumstances (full-time worker, part-time worker, freelancer, not employed etc.). We're always looking to improve there so definitely reach out if you have ideas! I don't know if you ever really know you're ready to be a founder -- I was just so obsessed with solving this problem that it led me to quit my job and dive into the space and see what I could build. That said, it's an important decision and there are definitely things to consider -- do you have a support system? are you financially ready for that kind of uncertainty? what milestones are you looking to hit to prove/disprove your hypothesis? And we're very lucky to have him and all our investors supporting us through this journey!
Hi Genevieve! Super curious about how you got connected to Jeff Bezos and what the experience of pitching him was like. Also, do you find that your law degree has helped you in your startup journey?
@genevieveRBHi Genevieve,I am considering becoming a co-founder of a startup for a medical product. They are offering shares of 40% of the company (they are private at this point) and a vesting period of 3 years. It's risky as I will be putting in my time and not receiving anything back. Questions:1- Is this standard? 2-Can you suggest a source that I can do research on these types of offers? 3-What else should I negotiate beyond being very clear about my role/responsibilities?Thanks so much!
The industry standard for equity compensation as a cofounder is 4 years vesting with a 1 year cliff. Which means that you will get no equity if you leave before your first year, and your shares will fully vest over 4 years (usually monthly). 40% is a high equity stake especially if the company already exists and there is any work put behind it already. You should check who is the team, what is their expertise, what they have done so far, any IP, why they need you (because if the are giving 40% they definitely need you for something big, and hopefully clear) etc. If you come into an already established team make sure you go into details re. expectations, goals, responsibilities early on - it will clarify how much direction they have and make it easier to negotiate and have conversations going forward.In regards to other things you could negotiate, a few that come to mind are the obvious salary, in some circumstances profit share, flexibility (e.g. remote work), hiring needs, representation externally (are you able to represent the company in the press, in any accelerators etc.), work set-up (e.g. laptop). Good luck!
This is wonderful information. Just what I needed before going into a meeting later this week. Many thanks @simonabali!
Glad it is of help, good luck, and do not hesitate to reach out if you want to chat more.
Thanks so much for the generous offer. I really appreciate it!
Hi Jodi, congrats on this opportunity! It sounds really exciting. Unfortunately, I don't have great insight in terms of the medical space -- 40% of the company seems significant! I would want to better understand the organization structure (are there other co-founders, how many etc.), would you be getting a salary in addition to equity, what kind of financing do they have etc. The one thing I will say is that I've typically seen 4 year vesting periods (with a 1 year cliff) as the standard. Carta ( has a lot of resources for founders around equity so there might be more insights there! In terms of your role/responsibilities, I would make sure that you are aligned with the product vision, expected milestones/timeline, and funding -- do they have resources to get this off the ground? do you feel like you have the same vision as the rest of the team? Good luck!!
Thanks so much, @genevieveRB. I just found this very helpful message in my mailbox. And thanks for the link to the founder resource center. I so appreciate your time in getting back with me.
Hi @genevieveRB, could you share with us what made you decide to build an app for navigating adulthood? And how did you find the product-market fit initially? Thanks :)
Hi Amber! I started Realworld to solve a problem I experienced personally -- After I graduated from college, I went directly to graduate school, which meant that I entered the β€˜real world’ later than most of my peers. It wasn’t until I started working full-time that I realized that despite being blessed with amazing educational opportunities, I was actually underprepared for many decisions around my finances, health care, taxes, and living situation that I faced after graduation (think: mistakes around health insurance, leases, renters insurance - you name it!) Once I started talking to other people around me, I realized that this was not a "me" problem, this was a "we" problem -- nearly everyone muddles through their early twenties, in large part because schools don't really teach practical, real world skills. On top of that, adulthood is complex! There are so many decisions to make that you don't even know you don't know the answers to, so it seemed like a massive, untouched problem space -- and that ability to pair impact with the opportunity to create a new category really got me excited. Getting to product-market fit is always an ongoing process but it always comes back to one thing: talking to users. We've tried to be disciplined in having those conversations regularly with users on our platform and potential users in our target market to make sure we're building something they actually want!
Thank you so much for sharing the process :) I'm 100% with you on this - it's a problem most of us face when transitioning from one phase to another, moving from one country to another, or simply just to understand the intricacy of personal finance. By the way, what's your thought on early finance education so that teens can start having exposure to manage their finance and become better prepared in life?