Celebrating responsible growth
It’s hard to believe it’s been about three years since my co-founders and I started Guideline and began our mission to create a retirement Americans can look forward to. It certainly was a mission worth starting: research by the Economic Policy Institute indicates that only about half of workers have any retirement savings, and the average savings for couples approaching retirement is just $17,000. Half of small business employees in the private sector don’t even have access to a retirement plan. That’s a big problem—a crisis in fact—and, as I’ve previously expressed, legacy 401(k) providers only perpetuate it.
2018 was the biggest year yet at Guideline. We grew our new plan count by 129 percent year over year, giving us 10 percent market share of new 401(k) plans in the country. More than 5,500 small businesses have selected Guideline for the modern, affordable retirement plan we offer, growing the assets we manage to about $750 million (a 270 percent increase). We also continued to grow our exclusive technology partner network and scaled our team from 42 to 98, with more joining every week across our offices in San Mateo, Austin, and Portland, Maine.
This type of growth is thrilling and validating, but it also requires capital to support. At Guideline, we believe in sustainable and responsible growth and never want to be in a situation where capital becomes a constraint to it. That’s why today, I’m excited to share that we’ve raised a $35 million Series C, led by Lee Fixel at Tiger Global Management. Our existing partners, including Felicis Ventures and Propel Ventures, and other early supporters, also contributed, bringing our total financing to $59 million. We’re so grateful for the continued support from those who believed in us from the beginning.
Lee and his colleague, Evan Feinberg, at Tiger made it an easy decision to work with them. Because of our growth and market penetration, we were fortunate enough to learn from the perspective of many investors who expressed interest in working with us. In a 35-minute meeting, Lee and his team proved to have researched our offering so thoroughly, they had a more up-to-date view of our market position than even we did. I knew in that moment they were the right partner to take our business to the next level. It was critical for us to work with someone who has conviction in Guideline being a technology-focused business—as opposed to a money management service—and Tiger is exactly that.
Now, because some people will ask, did we have the opportunity to raise more? Of course. But again, we believe in responsible growth, not the burn and churn growth that’s become painfully common at startups. As a business dealing with retirement assets, it’s paramount we have a long term view and not let capital become a distraction.
This infusion of capital will help Guideline continue to grow aggressively. One of the most rewarding parts of building Guideline is seeing its positive impact on people of all backgrounds. Whether it be a franchise exercise studio, a financial advising or accounting firm, or orthodontics practice, we’re proud to cover all 24 of the NAICS supersectors. So we’ll be continuing to scale our team across all departments to make sure our internal skill sets reflect those required by our diverse set of clients—whether they have two employees or 2,000. We’ll also use the capital to continue evolving our product to make sure it caters to the evolving needs of people who work in this country.
It’s tough to put in words how proud I am of the Guideline team. The work we’re doing is profoundly important—we’re helping build wealth, not monetize it. That distinction is important because what we do is help hardworking people enjoy the retirement they deserve, rather than view it as a profit center to chip away at.
We’ve come a long way, but still have so much work to do. When Guideline is the default retirement plan for everyone in the country, we still won’t be done. Thanks for following the journey.