This Startup Struggled to Get 75 Clients. Five Years Later, They Have 18,000. Here’s How They Did It.

A great business idea is worth nothing, until you can find paying customers. But how?

Here’s a start: Think like the founders of Facet. It’s an online financial advisor platform that spent years (and multiple pivots) figuring out how to get members. Now it has 18,000 of them, and brings in $35 million in annual recurring revenue.

Facet was partly born out of a new rule issued in 2016 (but ultimately never implemented) by Obama’s Department of Labor. It required financial advisors to become fiduciaries (meaning they must act solely in their clients’ best interests). What caught the attention of Brent Weiss and Anders Jones was a number they saw in the public comments: The planning industry said this would make services too expensive for 8 million people currently using advisors.

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