Eighteen months ago, Eric Bell (GRD ’12) left a job at Citigroup to start his own company.
Armed with a Georgetown business degree and experience working in wealth management, Bell aimed to create a website that helps young adults understand their finances.
“There’s no basic set of skills that people are taught growing up,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to have a finance degree to make good decisions.”
For Bell, even years of business classes did not prepare him to manage his own finances after graduation.
“I got out into the real world, and a lot of the things that I had learned, I didn’t embrace in the way that I should,” he said.
The website, called YoBucko, has now evolved to specifically target college students and people in their 20s. It features a variety of tools for understanding personal finances, including articles, videos, a forum for asking personal financial questions and several worksheets and calculators to keep track of budgeting and investing.
Bell’s goal is for YoBucko to become the trusted source of financial information for young people. He aims to increase the number of resources it offers and hopes that students will be willing to contribute both questions and articles.
According to Bell, the site taps an emerging market of young professionals.
“Financial companies aren’t focused on us now, because we aren’t that profitable yet. But we’re going to be,” he said.
Bell is also an active member of Common Sense, a financial literacy program at Georgetown that is sponsored by the George R. Houston Memorial Fund, the Office of Student Financial Services and the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union. The program works with professors, experts and alumni to present workshops on financial topics.
Bell has presented two workshops and will be teaching a third this spring.
“That whole program is a good overview of a lot of things that you need,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be so numbers oriented. It’s got to be something … approachable.”
Bell said that his time at Georgetown equipped him with valuable tools for getting his business up and running.
“It’s really Eric’s passion that drives his success,” professor Jim Hunt, who taught Bell while he was at Georgetown, said. “You can see that in everything he does.”
Professor Smith Wood taught Bell in a class called “Implementing the Plan.” The class focused on launching a venture, to which Bell came prepared with his own specific idea in mind.
Both Wood and Hunt have extensive real- world experience when it comes to launching a business. Wood said he has started seven companies and both he and Hunt have taken numerous companies public.
“We have made just about every mistake you can make,” Wood said.
According to Bell, however, that is exactly what makes their experience valuable.
“They can help businesses that are starting because they know what they are talking about.”