College Savings App UNest Buys Littlefund, Doubling Its User Base

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

College Savings App UNest Buys Littlefund, Doubling Its User Base

UNest, a mobile app that helps parents build college nest eggs for their kids, announced Wednesday it has acquired Littlefund, a similar app that will double UNest's user base to over 60,000 people. The integration will also make it so extended family members and friends can contribute directly to a UNest account on behalf of a child.

"Both are applying a modern, technology-driven approach to making financial solutions more affordable, accessible and user-friendly for a new generation of parents," said Ksenia Yudina, chief executive officer and founder of UNest, in a written statement. "Our teams share the same values and there is a lot of synergy in terms of vision and demographics."

Yudina, who was previously a senior executive at Capital Group, said she got the idea for UNest after seeing that her millennial friends having babies did not know how to invest in college savings plans and were put off by the stacks of paperwork that traditionally have been required.

UNest makes the investing simpler. It charges users a $3 monthly advisory fee for the service that funnels cash into 529 plans, an investment tool that provides tax breaks for college savings. It also offers trust accounts for minors.

The deal comes after UNest closed an oversubscribed $9 million Series A financing in June at a $25 million, post money valuation, according to Pitchbook data. The round was led by Anthos Capital, which also made an introduction to NBA All-Star Baron Davis, who ended up becoming an investor in the company and a brand representative.

UNest, which is headquartered in North Hollywood, launched in February and says it has seen "rapid growth" in users during the pandemic as the savings rate increased and families focused on long-term savings goals.

Following the completion of the acquisition, Littlefund founders Mimi Chan and Isaac Dressman will join UNest as head of experience and head of research and development, respectively. They are currently based in San Francisco but are planning to relocate to L.A. when employees can go back into the office.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually
Photo courtesy of AmazeVR

Virtual reality startup AmazeVR now has $17 million to further expand its VR concert experience.

The West Hollywood-based company’s latest funding amounts to a bet that virtual shows, a staple of the pandemic, are here to stay. Mirae Asset Capital led the Series B funding round, with Mirae Asset Financial Group subsidiary (Mirae Asset Venture Investment), CJ Investment, Smilegate Investment, GS Futures and LG Technology Ventures investing again. Mobile game maker Krafton joined the group—but South Korean entertainment company CJ ENM’s stake reveals AmazeVR’s plans to expand into K-pop world.

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending