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LearnVest’s COO on StartUps, Scale and Brand Culture

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Ainslie Simmonds Learnvest’s COO on The Brand Lab Series™ Ep 23

Few entrepreneurs have experienced the growth journey from start-up, through scale to the acquisition.  So what is this journey really like? We invited LearnVest COO, Ainslie Simmonds, back to the Brand Lab Series™ to share her story.

Brian dives right in and asks Ainslie, a fellow GenXer, what was it like to join a high profile startup founded by a Millennial.  Turns out Ainslie and CEO Alexa Von Tobel shared similar passions, but their styles are different.  This made them strong complements.

Building on the early years, Natalie asks Ainslie about her transition from corporate to startup life.  “It was certainly shocking the first day I came to work at LearnVest,” said Simmonds.

Yet on the positive side, Ainslie quickly learned the team had an incredible sense of urgency.  Unlike corporate life, there were no meetings about meetings about meetings.  Instead, decisions were made, “we said go and it was done. I loved that.”

Ainslie weighs in on important of speed, talent, and culture.

“You must hire slow and fire fast. Unlike a large company, you have nowhere to hide. Employees must be adding value to the organization.”

In 2015, LearnVest was acquired by Northwestern Mutual.  Ainslie provides perspective on how the two organizations had the opportunity to meet during a funding round and share similar values.  The trick is not losing the startup mindset, especially with speed.

Northwestern Mutual’s size gives LearnVest tremendous opportunity and data. As a result, Ainslie sees tremendous upside tackling their mission to help Americans with their money.

We hope you enjoy the episode.

Tags: Financial Services, Employee Advocacy

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