TribeVest Simplifies Small Group Investing, Putting Financial Goals within Reach

TribeVest, an award-winning Ohio startup that provides an online group saving platform, grew from a dream that founder and CEO Travis Smith and his brothers shared.

“We had a dream of becoming financially free,” Smith said. “Like most people out there, we didn’t know where to start. We couldn’t quit our day jobs. We didn’t come from money and didn’t have the capital to build wealth-growing assets, but we had a breakthrough on a fishing trip. We pictured real estate as the ultimate wealth hack.”

The brothers agreed to make manageable monthly contributions of $500 each toward their real estate goal. Together, that added up to $2000 a month or $24,000 a year.

“That unlocked a future that none of us could have imagined,” said Smith. “One investment turned into two, and then a portfolio of more than a million dollars. After 10 years, people started asking if we could help them form a group, too.”

Turning a Family Idea into a Solution to Meet a Market Need

TribeVest provides a platform and the discipline to help like-minded people who share a common goal form a group and save together.

“Our customers call us the eharmony for group investing,” Smith said. “TribeVest gives people a way to achieve things together they couldn’t achieve on their own.”

“Tribes” come together in different ways. Whether they know each other through family, sports, neighborhoods, clubs, or socially, or are strangers,  each member of a prospective group completes a TribeAlign profile.

From those responses, TribeAlign produces a neutral third-party report that shows 29 points of alignment (or non-alignment) of the prospective group.

It becomes clear which people are on the same page and which aren’t.

“As the first and only group savings platform, members can use our automatic savings component,” Smith said. “They don’t need to come together with lump sums of money but can start with a manageable monthly amount. But our real secret sauce is that we are in the people alignment business. It’s all about the psychology of a successful group.”

Once a tribe formalizes,  the members vote on the rules, from how much money each person will invest, to how frequently, for how long, for what, and even for the “what ifs,” such as someone leaving the group.

The TribeVest platform outcomes are determined by the  tribes of users. Smith says that about half the projects are real estate.

TribeVest has partnerships with Legalinc, a LegalZoom company, to give groups ready access to online tools to form LLCs and make other legal arrangements.

“With our platform and the sharing economy, we are all coming back to the idea that we can achieve more together,” he said.

One of Smith’s favorite stories is about customers who went to a family reunion over the summer and came up with a goal.

“They have some homes that have been in the family for generations that are deteriorating,” he said. “They are using TribeVest to invest to restore those homes for future generations, coming together as a tribe to continue an important part of their family’s history.”

It was similar, Smith said, to he and his brothers’ experience which turned out to be about more than accumulating wealth and independence. “It was just as much about learning and growing together how to be self-reliant so our families could have more experiences together,” he said.

TribeVest’s B2B Model Expands with More Service Provider Relationships

The TribeVest algorithm doesn’t just qualify group members; it can match people and groups to other tribes with similarly aligned goals. The business gains customers from service providers who are able to expand their services with customers.

“Our business is helping investment groups form. As these micro-businesses save and mature and increase their portfolio, they will need services—deposits, bookkeeping, lending, legal,” said Smith.

“When I saw the tribe network interacting and working together to achieve more and saw commerce happening as a result of our network,” he said, “I realized that TribeVest is going to become one of the largest investment businesses in the world, while not selling a single investment product.”