Wharton FinTech
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Gaurav Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder of Capitalize — Simplifying Retirement Savings

In today’s episode, I’m joined by Gaurav Sharma, CEO and Co-Founder of Capitalize a venture-backed fintech company in New York focused on the retirement savings market.

Gaurav and I cover a range of topics, including:

The Size of the 401K Rollover Issue:
After working in financial services for 10 years and at a number of firms, Gaurav gained acute knowledge of the U.S. 401K savings issue — when workers change jobs, their 401K accounts don’t change with them. Coming from Australia also helped Gaurav gain perspective on what a more simple, mandatory savings account looks like. Having grown up around entrepreneurs, Gaurav decided to tackle this problem himself. Capitalize has found that 15–21M people change jobs and 401K accounts per year, and roughly 1/3rd of those people cash out their accounts, ($100M in total) paying taxes and penalties on their money. Another 3–4M people leave their money behind for an extended period of time. With these inefficiencies, Capitalize has calculated that there are $1.35T in assets sitting inside forgotten 401Ks.

Capitalize’s Product and Customer Base:
Capitalize offers an online experience that helps consumers find their old 401K accounts, compare and select the right IRA, and handle the rollover process online via top-tier client service to make sure the money gets consolidated into 1 new account. Currently, Capitalize predominantly serves individuals in their late twenties through mid-30s that have had 3–5 jobs since graduating. However, Gaurav has seen this client base expand beyond the early adopters, into a more mainstream audience. The success of this product has made Capitalize one of Time’s Best Inventions in 2021.

The Fundraising Process:
Capitalize raised its Series A round in February of 2021 from a number of prominent fintech investors, including Canapi Ventures (lead), Bling Capital, Greycroft, RRE Ventures and Walkabout Ventures. Gaurav credits investing in personal relationships with VCs, and keeping them appraised of the progress Capitalize was making, for the success of their Series A round. While the fundraising process is never easy, Gaurav and the team felt like they were able to streamline it as much as possible.


Gaurav Sharma:
Gaurav leads Capitalize’s mission to help people save for retirement. Before founding Capitalize, he worked for some of the best-known financial institutions, including JP Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and as an investor at well-known hedge fund Greenlight Capital. After seeing how hard it is for most people to understand their retirement accounts, he decided to build a company that makes it easier. An Australian by birth, Gaurav lives in New York with his wife and their adopted puppy, Lorenzo.


About the Author:
Anirudh Singh is a second-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, where he is part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast team. He has a passion for economic development, venture capital, financial services, and all things FinTech. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, feedback, and opportunities at singhan@wharton.upenn.edu.

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