Olivia AI’s Elise Graham was mentored by the Goop founder on the Apple web series ‘Planet of the Apps’
Gwyneth Paltrow is sprinkling her moon dust around.
The actress and wellness entrepreneur has taken on a starring role on “Planet of the Apps,” a “Shark Tank” meets “The Voice” style reality web series on which app developers vie for venture capital funding and celebrity mentorship. The Goop founder joins Jessica Alba, will.i.am and the best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk on a panel of mentors for Apple’s first original TV series. The bold-faced names then guide the contestants through the process of refining their apps and elevator pitches before they meet with VCs at the end of each episode.
One featured startup founder was Elise Graham, whose personal finance app Olivia AI touts itself as a friendly dispenser of customized money advice. The 28-year-old’s pitch was compelling enough that all four mentors wanted to work with her, though the longtime Goop reader eventually chose to go with Paltrow. “A lot of people know her as an actress but I view her as a businesswoman,” Graham tells Moneyish, adding that she liked that Paltrow had raised significant venture capital herself. “She’s so savvy and it’s great to have another woman know that.”
“Apps” only briefly depicts a one-on-one meeting between Graham and Paltrow, but Graham actually met with the actress four times, including occasionally with Goop’s executive team. She was most struck by how Paltrow built a team loyal to her vision. “All her employers adore her,” she says. That dedication at Goop– which has faced its share of outside detractors– is something she hopes to replicate at Olivia. “She’s faced a lot of [critics] but does a great job at being focused on her mission,” she says. “There are always little things that can be improved, but not everything is going to be a good fit.”
In practical terms, Paltrow was especially helpful with rebranding Olivia in a way that would appeal to the female millennial audience she was targeting. “Our struggle is about getting women engaged with finance apps, so we sat down and brainstormed ways to rebrand and do events that cater to women,” she says. Paltrow also introduced Graham to Yelp chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman, who offered advice on raising capital, and the graphic designer behind Goop’s visual branding, who helped out with a new logo.
Graham has been a startup founder long in the making. Born and raised in Austin, Tx., her brother taught her to code in HTML at the age of 10. She spent most of her high school and college years designing websites, before working at several startups in New York. “Everyone would make fun of me for doing websites for fun, but it’s like art,” she says. “You get to create something beautiful.”
While Paltrow may have helped her rebrand, the biggest boon of being on “Apps” has surely been the attention. While the show is streamable only on Apple Music, Olivia A.I. has since raised almost $1 million in funding since filming ended. The company released a beta of its app onto Apple’s App Store pegged to the airing of the episode featuring Graham and 20,000 users downloaded the app in its first week. The company is adding hundreds of users a day, Graham says.
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