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Make Extra Money Without Sacrificing Your Time with These 25 Passive Income Apps



If you want to build wealth, you’ll need to earn money while you sleep. The only way to do this? Generate passive income.

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Sadly, passive income can seem overwhelming, since it often takes a lot of hard work or money upfront. The good news is that you can create extra income while you’re not working with the help of passive income apps.

For those looking to make extra money without spending all of their time on side hustles, here are 25 passive income apps to download.

Best Passive Income Apps to Make Money

1. Fundrise

You can’t use Fundrise to earn cash back, receive loyalty rewards, save money on expenses, or play games. Rather, Fundrise is a crowdfunding platform you can use to invest in real estate.

With Fundrise, you can build wealth with real estate investment portfolios that are carefully selected and proactively managed. It’s one of the best apps to help you get financially independent.

Fundrise lets you invest in large real estate projects without owning the entire property. If you want to diversify your portfolio and not have all your money tied up in one investment, you can invest a little bit in several projects.

Throughout your portfolio, Fundrise keeps you updated about the progress of each project you invest in.

The iPhone app offers all the features available on the desktop platform, making the investment platform convenient to use. As a result of this accessibility, you can keep track of your real estate investments from anywhere you are.

It is necessary to be an accredited investor to invest in some real estate crowdfunding apps. Fundrise does, however, offer some products that are available to non-accredited investors.

As a Fundrise user, you can receive dividends from your real estate investing. And, you can start with as little as $10.

The company offers a “dividend reinvestment program” if you do not need the money and wish to leave the funds on the platform.

2. HappyNest

As an alternative to Fundrise, HappyNest also offers real estate investments. Investing in commercial real estate with HappyNest REITs costs only $10, so you don’t need to save up for a down payment.

The unique feature of this passive income app is that it allows you to passively invest your money without any effort on your part. Your HappyNest account will round up every purchase to the nearest dollar if you link a debit or credit card. As an example, the app will round up a $4.25 purchase to $5 and set aside $0.75 to purchase additional shares.


With Public, you can trade commission-free. Unlike other micro-investing apps, Public lets you connect with thought leaders within the app so you can learn about investing.

With themed-stock bundles and fractional shares, it is possible to invest in well-known companies. And, you don’t need a minimum account to get started.

Public lets you invest weekly, biweekly, or monthly, or buy lump sums periodically. There are also these asset classes you can invest in:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Crypto
  • Contemporary art
  • Music royalties
  • Luxury goods

4. Acorns

Not sure where to begin investing?

Using Acorns, you can earn passive income by having professional financial experts decide where your money should be invested for you.

Rather than one risk level, you can choose from five different ones. Generally, young investors who aren’t heavily in debt should consider an aggressive style of investing.

If you’re looking for a mobile app that does almost all of the investing for you, this is a viable option.

The spare change option is my favorite part of this app.

Your Acorns account will automatically round up any purchases made with your credit card if you link it.

In your account, you will receive the difference between the actual purchase price and the amount spent with your card.

And, it only costs you $3 per month to invest in funds vetted by experts.

5. M1 Finance

The goal of M1 Finance is to help you create passive income from your savings by helping you build your investment portfolio. The program enables you to find the best ways to generate passive income through automated investing tools. Plus, you’ll be able to choose stocks based on expert-curated portfolios, taking the guesswork out of the process.

In addition to investing in specific companies, M1 Finance also offers fractional shares in stocks and ETFs. Through its passive income investing app, you can access your account information and manage your investments under one platform.

As well as commission-free investing, M1 Finance offers small investments starting at $100.

6. Groundfloor

Groundfloor is a passive income platform that combines saving and investing, which they cleverly call “savesting.” Investors are promised an annual return of 10%, which you don’t often see these days. Using automated investing tools, you can fund real estate projects that match your expectations through renovation loans.

With Groundfloor’s Stairs savings account, you earn 4% interest without any minimum investment requirement. Many other real estate investing apps lock your money up for long periods of time. On the other hand, Groundfloor shows you returns every 4 to 12 months.

7. Robinhood

If you’ve been thinking about investing, take a look at Robinhood. Commission-free trading is available on stocks, ETFs, options, and even cryptocurrency. In addition, Robinhood often gives away free stocks when you sign up.

In comparison with some of its competitors, Robinhood does not have all of the analytical and research tools. However, you will have a hard time finding another platform that makes trading as simple as Robinhood. And, if you trade fractional shares, your favorite stock won’t be priced out by its popularity, and there is no minimum requirement.

You won’t be charged anything for the basic account, and there is no minimum balance requirement. Passive income can be generated by building your portfolio based on expert recommendations. With Robinhood Gold, its premium platform, you can also earn 3.75% on your money.

8. Mainvest

Take a moment to picture a small town in the middle of America. There are quaint shops and diners lining the streets, catering to both locals and tourists.

There is a sense of community in the air as you walk down this main street. It’s common for people to support each other’s businesses and help each other out. It’s like being in one big family.

Every store owner in this town has created their own niche business that brings joy and economic stability to the community as a whole. What if you were able to support such a community and watch it grow?

With Mainvest, a crowdfunding service for small businesses, you can now do just that.

To build a passive income portfolio, Mainvest curates vetted small business opportunities in your community and nationwide.

By way of revenue-sharing notes, which act as financial agreements to share revenue with investors until a certain return is reached, these businesses offer returns between 10-25% per year. Unlike traditional loans, these payments replace interest.

9. Yieldstreet

Yieldstreet is one of the best real estate investing apps, so I had to include it in this list of passive income apps. You can earn passive income from a wide range of alternative assets. It includes everything from commercial property to art.

What you can invest in on Yieldstreet depends on how much risk you’re willing to take. But, there is the option for ultra-wealthy investments if you can swing it. Also, your portfolio’s performance is updated regularly in the app.

Compared with most CDs, Yieldstreet offers over 40X higher rates than the national average of money market rates. Investing multiple times also allows you to build an optimal investment strategy by rolling over maturities. So, yeah. Compared to traditional banking, it offers a much better alternative.

Passive Income Apps For Banking

10. High Yield Savings Account

As you may not know, a high-yield savings account is simply a federally insured savings account. Because of their higher interest rates, these accounts are attractive. A typical APY for these accounts is between 0.40% and 0.50%. In case you were wondering, the national savings rate is 0.06% APY.

Despite being not all that exciting, high-yield savings accounts do offer a solid return. As an added benefit, your balance will grow automatically without you having to exert any extra effort. Additionally, you can open an account online with Chime, Marcus, Alliant, Discover, or Varo. And, it’s an extremely low-risk investment.

Suppose you can open a savings account with a 0.50% APY. With $10,000 in your account, you’d earn just over $50 per year. This won’t make you a billionaire. But it’s way better than five bucks with a 0.05% account.

11. Certificate of Deposit

Another way to earn passive income from your savings is through certificate of deposit apps.

CDs allow you to set aside money for a defined period of time, which is known as a “term.” There are a variety of terms available, ranging from a few months to a decade. A longer-term usually results in a higher interest rate.

In order to avoid early withdrawal penalties, you should use a CD when you don’t need the money immediately.

You can buy CDs through most banking apps, such as Fidelity.

Passive Income Apps For Market Research

12. Swagbucks

Besides earning points for surveys, you can also get points for shopping online, playing video games, and searching the web with Swagbucks. If you earn enough points, you can get Amazon gift cards or PayPal cash back.

In theory, paid survey sites don’t count as passive income. But you’re making money while doing things you’re already doing, like surfing or playing games.

13. Nielsen Computer And Mobile Panel

This is a super-easy passive income idea. Install the Nielsen Computer And Mobile Panel app and keep using your phone or computer as normal. It’s that simple. Just doing that can make you an extra $50 a year.

To sweeten the deal? If you live in the United States, you will be eligible to enter sweepstakes drawings. If you get selected for these sweepstakes, you’ll receive additional money. Approximately 400 winners receive $10,000 each month from the company.

14. Survey Junkie

A list of surveys will be sent to you as soon as you sign up with Survey Junkie. Using a computer or a phone, you can complete these surveys during your downtime. In general, the more detailed the survey, the more points you’ll earn.

You’ll receive between 10 and 100 points $0.10 to $1) for each completed survey, which takes between 5 and 25 minutes. Earnings can also be cashed out at 1,000 points, which comes to $10.

15. Branded Surveys

Branded Surveys offers you the opportunity to take part in market research surveys through an online platform or iPhone app. In addition to taking daily polls, you can also refer friends and family to earn points.

It’s a great and simple way to earn points while you’re streaming your favorite shows. You can then redeem them for gift cards or cash via PayPal or Branded Pay.

Passive Income Apps For Everyday Tasks

16. Trim

Trim analyzes your spending patterns to identify areas of savings and cost reductions. As a result, the app will negotiate your bills on your behalf with the support of its team of experts, ensuring a 30% reduction in your bills. The app doesn’t earn you passive income, but it saves you money and reduces your monthly expenditures.

Trim claims its app can help users save $620 a year. More than two million users and $70 million in savings have been delivered by Trim so far.

17. Capital One Shopping

In addition to earning passive income with Capital One Shopping, you don’t have to be a Capital One member to take advantage of them. This can be done in a number of ways.

The first step is to compare prices. By using the Capital One Shopping app, you can find what you are looking for. The app will let you know when you can get a lower price on items you want.

You can also earn rewards points by shopping at stores you already frequent. You can redeem these rewards for gift cards at major retailers.

The savings vary but usually amount to a few dollars per sale. You can access Capital One Shopping both online and via the app.

18. Drop

With Drop, you can earn passive income from the shopping you already do. It’s a simple process. With Drop, you just connect your credit card, debit card, or bank account and choose five stores to earn cash back from. Uber, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart are some of the top choices people make, but there are many others.

Cashback is typically in the form of Drop Points, worth 0.5 to 1.5%. You can redeem them for Amazon or Starbucks gift cards. In order to earn points more quickly, you can play their mini-games — of course, this is not passive.

19. Dosh

There are a lot of similarities between Dosh and Drop.

The Dosh app will ask you to link your credit or debit card when you open it. Select one of the retailers they’ve partnered with from there.

Using the link within the app, you can access the retailer’s website. Your Dosh account will be credited with the cashback as soon as your purchase is made using your linked card.

Upon reaching $15 in cash-back rewards, you can withdraw your earnings via PayPal, Venmo, or bank transfer, or donate them to charity.

20. Rakuten

Amazon, Sephora, Macy’s, and many more partner with Rakuten, the biggest online shopping marketplace. For those who spend a lot online, the app offers 10% cashback on their online purchases.

To start earning cashback on Rakuten, follow these steps:

  • Create an account with Rakuten first.
  • Second, choose a store on Rakuten that you would like to shop at.
  • Finally, simply shop as usual and your earnings will automatically be credited.

If you earn $25 in cashback within 90 days of joining, the platform will give you a $10 sign-up bonus.

21. Upside

Upside allows you to earn cashback at more than 50,000 gas stations nationwide through passive income. Select locations offer up to $0.25 per gallon of gas purchased. You don’t have to collect points or gift cards to join Upside, and you are paid in cash. Plus, it’s free to join.

As gas prices increase, it makes sense to earn cash back on purchases you’ve already made.

22. OnMyWay

With OnMyWay, you can earn passive income while you drive regularly or every day. By discouraging texting while driving, OnMyWay aims to improve road safety. By doing this, the app will pay you $0.05 for each mile you drive safely.

Getting started is as easy as downloading the OnMyWay app (available on Android and iOS) and creating an account. When you exceed 10 mph, OnMyWay will automatically activate

Passive Income Apps For Rental Income

23. AirBnb

With Airbnb, travelers can book accommodations more easily. As a passive income idea, it is also one of the best. You can list a short-term rental property on Airbnb if you have an extra bedroom or additional space in your home.

You can start earning passive income with Airbnb once you get it up and running, especially if you hire out tasks like cleaning. To streamline the process, you can also implement digital check-ins and automated messages.

Depending on the size and location of your Airbnb unit, you can earn a lot of money. You can estimate your potential earnings on Airbnb’s website.

24. Neighbor

Your extra storage space can be rented out to your neighbors who need it. Using the peer-to-peer rental app Neighbor, you can earn extra income by renting out your basement, closet, garage, or driveway.

You and your renters are protected by $1,000,000 in insurance, and you have a guaranteed payment plan. If you wish to list your space for free, you’ll only be required to pay a small fee of 4.9% plus $0.30 for processing every month.

25. Turo

You can think of Turo as the Airbnb of cars. With Turo, you can make passive income from your idle vehicles.

Users can rent out your car at their convenience after you create a profile and add your car to the app. Without accounting for maintenance, cleaning, insurance, or deductibles, Turo estimates that the average car can earn $10,516 a year in rentals. Even though these will certainly eat into your profits, it is certainly better than letting it sit around under a tarp when you’re not using it.

Also, Turo offers contactless check-in to save you time and liability insurance, so you can rest assured that your car is safe.

Renting out a fleet of cars and turning it into a business is an option for those looking to boost their passive income.


How do passive income and active income differ?

I often get asked what’s the difference passive and active income. Passive income apps are designed to help you earn a new income without spending much time on it. With your nine-to-five income or side hustle, you’d like to create passive income sources that make money continuously for you.

Exactly how do passive income apps work?

Creating passive income is like setting up a side gig once and forgetting about it. As you earn passive income, the app uses a variety of technologies, including Robo-investors and algorithms that work for you.

Depending on what app you use, they’ll take a cut. Others might offer the chance to make even more money. Depending on the app, this will vary.

How safe are passive income apps?

There are many factors that influence the answer to this question. In most cases, however, apps will take the necessary precautions to protect their users’ data, privacy, and money. It’s important to be selective when choosing a passive income app, which is why I’ve compiled this list.

There are some that are very safe and even score high points with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Some apps promise things that they simply cannot deliver.

Also, check out reviews before downloading an app and understand it thoroughly. It will not only keep you safe but will also enable you to plan better and avoid disappointments in the future.

What are the highest and lowest-paying apps?

You need to consider your situation and how committed you are to earning money before you can decide which app is the most profitable. You can make thousands of dollars renting out a prime space or property on Airbnb, for example. Over the long run, a robo-advisor like M1 Finance or a REIT app like Fundrise can be very profitable if you have a lot of money to invest.

In contrast, the lowest-paying apps will almost certainly be those that offer paid surveys and get paid to participate in contests. On each app, you can earn a few bucks a week, enough to cover a few streaming subscriptions or Starbucks coffee. The barrier to entry for these apps is the lowest, but they won’t make you wealthy.

The post Make Extra Money Without Sacrificing Your Time with These 25 Passive Income Apps appeared first on Due.

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Why the Bear Market Might End on 2/1?



The stock market (SPY) is at a fork in the road coming into the 2/1 Fed announcement at 2pm ET. However, in this case there are 4 different directions stocks could head from here and thus 4 trading plans you should be aware of now. 40 year investment pro Steve Reitmeister spells it all out in his timely commentary below.

January has been quite bullish. Not just the solid overall gains for stocks, but the very Risk On nature of the groups that outperformed.

At this stage investors are holding their breath waiting for the next Fed announcement on Wednesday 2/1 @ 2pm ET. Anything is possible including a softening of their hawkish stance that would give bulls a green light to keep running ahead.

Just as likely is the Fed doubling down on their previous statements that would have stocks tumbling lower once again.

Indeed, a lot hangs on Wednesday’s announcement. So, let’s discuss how each possible outcome would alter our trading plans.

Market Commentary

I see 4 possible scenarios after this very crucial Fed announcement on February 1. Let’s review each and how it would affect our trading plans to carve out profits from the stock market.

Scenario 1: Raging Bull (the Bear is Dead!)

In this scenario the Fed makes a clear and evident pivot in their rate hike regime. Meaning that they see inflation coming down faster than expected and will not have to keep rates high through the end of the year as previously stated.

This unexpected dovish tilt will delight investors as it greatly increases the odds of a soft landing for the economy with stocks raging higher. This should compel investors to abandon their bear market outlook quickly and switch to more Risk On selections that would outperform in a new bull market.

Or simply, sell everything that did well in 2022 and buy the investments that did poorly last year with emphasis on growth over value.

Note that I think the odds of the Fed pivoting so obviously at this stage is incredibly low. The next section is the more probable bullish possibility.

Scenario 2: Cautious Bull

Here we get more subtle hints from the Fed of a potential future pivot in policy. Like they are encouraged by moderating inflation…and will keep rates higher for longer to make sure that rating inflation is good and dead…but just maybe they won’t have to do it for as long as previously stated.

This would increase the current bullish bias in the market. However, the total upside would be more limited as investors would still be too worried about the next Fed statement. And will also be very cautious as they view economic data which is tilting more and more towards recession.

In this case, I would recommend being moderately bullish. Whereas Scenario 1 would compel investors getting back to 100% long…this would be more like 50% long the stock market. And yes, that should be with the same kind of Risk On selections noted above. Just a smaller allocation with ample cash on hand.

Note that this scenario still leaves open the chance that the Fed stays hawkish too long and we still tip over into recession with bear market coming back on the scene. That explains why only 50% long as downside risks still exist.

Scenario 3: Bear Returns with a Vengeance

The Fed has proactively talked down bulls at 2 previous junctures putting an end to premature rallies. I am referring to the famed Jackson Hole speech in August where Powell scared everyone senseless ending the 18% summer rally with new lows in the offing.

A more subtle version of this happened at the beginning of December where he reiterated the “higher rates for longer” mantra more times than I can count. Plus it was clear that they would rather risk recession than leaving any flames of inflation in the economy as that is the greater long term evil.

So if Powell gets back on the “bully pulpit“, or in any way implies that bulls are WAY ahead of themselves, then the bear market comes back with a vengeance. That’s because the longer the Fed stays hawkish…the higher the odds a hard landing (recession) for the economy.

In this case, stay bearish and stick with the 2022 bear market playbook with inverse ETFs and conservative stocks to squeeze out profits as the market heads lower.

Scenario 4: Dazed & Confused

This is where the Fed gives mixed signals. Still hawkish for a long time to save face given previous statements. And yet do tip their hat a little to moderating inflation.

This gray area leads to a trading range until investors have more facts in hand. I suspect that 4,000 is the low end with 4,200 at the high end. This comes hand in hand with a ton of volatility as each new headline has investors recalibrate the bull/bear odds.

This trading range evolves into 1 of the 3 other scenarios in the future depending on future Fed statements and health of the economy. The more you think it will become like scenario 1 or 2 means you tilt more bullish on your trading strategy. And if you still believe that the bearish scenario 3 is where we end up…then you play the trading range with the same degree of caution.


Yes, there is a lot riding on the Fed statement. I am prepared for any of these scenarios to play out with 2 and 3 being the most likely followed by 4.

No doubt you are thinking to yourself “isn’t there an easier way to invest in the stock market?”

Unfortunately not.

The future outlook for the economy, and thus stock prices, is never 100% certain. And thus it is MOST confusing at the 180 degree turns from bearish to bullish or vice versa.

Once we make that big turn, then we get on to the straightaway. Once there the outlook becomes clearer allowing us to enact plans with a greater degree of certainty.

I will of course dissect every word of the Fed announcement to determine which scenario we are in with appropriate change in trading strategy to quickly follow.

Hold onto the steering wheel tight and be ready for anything!

What To Do Next?

Watch my brand new presentation: “Stock Trading Plan for 2023” covering:

  • Why 2023 is a “Jekyll & Hyde” year for stocks
  • Why the Bear Market Could Come Back
  • 9 Trades to Profit Now
  • 2 Trades with 100%+ Upside Potential as New Bull Emerges
  • And Much More!

Watch “Stock Trading Plan for 2023” Now >

Wishing you a world of investment success!

Steve Reitmeister…but everyone calls me Reity (pronounced “Righty”)
CEO, and Editor, Reitmeister Total Return

SPY shares fell $0.47 (-0.12%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, SPY has gained 6.29%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Steve Reitmeister

Steve is better known to the StockNews audience as “Reity”. Not only is he the CEO of the firm, but he also shares his 40 years of investment experience in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more about Reity’s background, along with links to his most recent articles and stock picks.


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Wall Street’s Most Connected Black Woman Has An Ingenious Idea To Narrow The Wealth Gap



This story appears in the December/January 2023 issue of Forbes Magazine. Subscribe

To boost more talented minority executives into the corporate stratosphere, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson wants to install them at the top of existing businesses—and connect them with the customers and capital to succeed.

Asa sixth grader in Chicago public schools in 1980, Mellody Hobson was mortified by the snaggletooth that protruded when she smiled. It simply didn’t fit the future she envisioned for herself.

She asked her friends who wore braces for the name of their orthodontist, and without her mother knowing, made an appointment, walking from school to his office. He said she’d have to wear braces for years and that it would cost $2,500—a monumental sum for Hobson’s struggling single mother, who was raising her and her five siblings in a home where money was so tight the electricity was periodically shut off because of unpaid bills. No matter. That tooth was going to be fixed: Hobson and the orthodontist agreed to a payment plan of about $50 per month.

In eighth grade, determined to go to one of Chicago’s best private high schools, she asked friends where they were applying, called the schools and arranged to tour them with her mother in tow. She wound up at St. Ignatius College Prep on a scholarship.

In 2020, in the wake of the nationwide George Floyd protests, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wanted to aid Black businesses. He called Hobson, by then a JPMorgan board member, hoping to tap into that same sheer force of will. “I said, ‘We really need a sustainable investment effort—totally for-profit—to invest in minority companies,’ ” Dimon recalls. He told her he wanted Ariel Investments, where Hobson is co-CEO and president, involved, then rattled off other minority-owned businesses as potential partners.

Hobson was characteristically blunt but upbeat. “I said to him, ‘Jamie, [some of] these companies are gone,’ which he did not know. ‘But I think I have an idea.’ ” She drafted a four-page memo outlining “Project Black” and emailed it to Dimon on September 8, a week after his initial call.

The idea: Ariel would form a private equity fund to invest in middle-market companies and provide them the capital—and, more crucially, the contacts—needed to sell to large corporations eager to diversify their supply chains. Dimon was sold instantly. “When people talk about Black businesses, they talk about access to capital, access to capital, access to capital,” Hobson says. “Access to customers may be more important.” Currently, a meager 2% of corporate spending goes to minority-owned suppliers.

There’s another conventional wisdom–busting aspect of this strategy. Black entrepreneurs start lots of businesses, but very few grow large enough to become suppliers to the Walmarts of the world; of the 500 or so private companies in the U.S. with more than $1 billion a year in sales, just five are Black-owned.

Project Black aims to leapfrog the size barrier by acquiring companies with $100 million to $1 billion in sales and, if they’re not already minority-run, installing Black and Latino executives to manage them—“minoritizing” the companies, as Hobson puts it. These firms should then be well positioned to acquire smaller minority-owned enterprises and grow into competitive top-tier suppliers—satisfying big companies’ supply chain needs and diversity goals at the same time.

Hobson “is as comfortable with a part-time barista as she is with any high-profile person,” says Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. 

On February 1, Ariel closed its first Project Black fund with $1.45 billion in commitments from AmerisourceBergen, Amgen, Lowe’s, Merck, Next-Era, Nuveen, Salesforce, Synchrony, Truist, Walmart, the Qatar Investment Authority, Hobson’s family foundation and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who put $200 million in. That’s all on top of an up to $200 million pledge that JPMorgan made in 2021 to get the ball rolling.

That $1.45 billion is more than five times the size of the average first-time private equity fund and brings assets under management at Ariel, including its mutual funds and separately managed accounts, above $16 billion. Forbes figures Hobson’s nearly 40% stake in what is the nation’s oldest (founded 1983) Black-owned investment shop is worth $100 million. (John W. Rogers Jr., the founder, chairman and co-CEO, owns 34%.)

Like so much else the 53-year-old Hobson has done during her one-of-a-kind career, the Project Black memo was neither off-the-cuff nor a solo production. Instead, it was built on years of relentless hard work, analysis and networking. After the May 2020 murder of Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, Hobson organized Sunday Zoom calls with a cadre of top Black business executives to brainstorm ways that capitalists could narrow the racial wealth gap—and make a profit. “I said, ‘This hasn’t been done before.’ ”

One Zoom regular was Leslie A. Brun, the 70-year-old Haiti-born founder and former head of Hamilton Lane, which now oversees $824 billion in alternative investments. He’s CEO (and, with Hobson, cofounder) of Ariel Alternatives, which is running Project Black. “We could change the paradigm and the conversation about what it means to be a minority-owned business,” he says, “because if you look at the federal definition, it’s small and disadvantaged. We want to be large and advantaged.”

Among value investing firms, Ariel Investments is known for a patient, contrarian buy-and-hold approach. Turtles and tortoises—metal figurines, wooden replicas, stone sculptures and tortoiseshell imprints—decorate nearly every office and conference room in both its Chicago headquarters and Hobson’s main office in San Francisco’s Presidio.

Yet Hobson’s rise at Ariel was anything but slow. Founder Rogers hired her right out of Princeton and let her know, when she was just 25, that he planned to make her its president by the time she was 30. “Whenever you have a star, you want them to see a career path—that’s basic business 101,” says Rogers, who first spotted Hobson’s promise when she was a high school senior and he was recruiting Chicago students for Princeton.

Even in grade school, Hobson fixated on education as her ticket to a secure future. She was by far the youngest of Dorothy Ashley’s six children—her oldest sibling is more than two decades her senior. Hobson describes her mother as loving, optimistic (sometimes unrealistically so) and hardworking. Ashley tried to make a living renovating condos, but between discrimination and spotty money management skills, she couldn’t always pay the bills. Hobson’s childhood was peppered with multiple evictions and utility shut-offs.

“It felt extremely insecure,” says Hobson, who has become a powerful advocate for financial literacy. “I ended up knowing way more about our life than any child should know. I knew what our rent was. I knew when our phone bill was late.”

Hobson had been accepted to both Harvard and Princeton and was set on Harvard until she attended a Princeton recruitment dinner, organized by Rogers, at the Chicago Yacht Club. Venture capitalist Richard Missner sat down beside her and declared that he intended to change both her choice of college and her life. He began calling her every day, eventually inviting her to a breakfast for one of his Princeton classmates—then-U.S. Senator and former New York Knicks star Bill Bradley—seating her next to the guest of honor.

“Mellody made a very deep impression on me,” Bradley says. “She is where she is today because of the values she held as a high school senior, her incredible discipline and a positive energy level that made people want to be around her.” Hobson chose Princeton, and a lasting friendship was born.

When Bradley ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, Hobson was a tireless fundraiser, impressing another Bradley backer: Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz. Hobson joined Starbucks’ board in 2005 and became nonexecutive chair in 2021, making her the only Black woman currently heading an S&P 500 board.

“The currency of the way she carries herself is steeped in emotional intelligence,” Schultz says. “Mellody is always present. She puts on no airs. She’s as comfortable with a part-time barista as she is with any high-profile person you can mention.”

Schultz introduced Hobson to DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who in turn recruited her for his board. Hobson became chair of DreamWorks in 2012 and in 2016 negotiated its sale for $3.8 billion (a 50% premium to its stock price before talks became public) across from Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, a famously tough bargainer. “She had never bought or sold a company before, but you would have thought she had been doing this her whole life,” Katzenberg marvels.

The movie connection presumably gave Hobson something to talk about when she met Star Wars creator George Lucas at an Aspen, Colorado, business conference in 2006. On their first dinner date they talked about their shared commitment to promoting educational access. When she married the billionaire in 2013 at his Skywalker Ranch in California, Bradley walked her down the aisle. (Lucas, Hobson and their 9-year-old daughter have their primary homes in California, as well as a penthouse in Chicago.)

It’s a lifelong pattern: One A-list friend or business associate is wowed and introduces Hobson to another, who repeats the process. She met Formula 1 champion Sir Lewis Hamilton in 2007 through Lucas, a racing enthusiast; she now calls the British driver her “little brother” and included him in the new Denver Broncos ownership group (Hobson owns 5.5%) headed by billionaire Walmart heir Rob Walton.

Former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg and Hobson bonded when both served on Starbucks’ board. Hobson was there for her, Sandberg says, when her husband died suddenly from a heart condition in 2015. Tennis great Serena Williams met Hobson through a mutual friend, Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys. “We totally hit it off.

I admired what she was talking about,” Williams says. “Now, it’s so funny. I don’t remember anything she said—I just remember being totally enamored by how authoritative she was. For me, it’s always so exciting to see someone like her, in that position, to be so confident to have that aplomb when she walks into a room.”

No relationship has been more important to Hobson than her apprenticeship-turned-partnership with Ariel founder John W. Rogers Jr. The 64-year-old Rogers grew up in a different world: His father was a Tuskegee Airman and a judge. His mother was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School and the granddaughter of one of the architects of Greenwood, the prosperous Black community in Tulsa destroyed by a white riot in 1921. Rogers captained the Princeton basketball team when Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother, was a freshman on it. He later became close to the Obamas, chairing the president-elect’s first inauguration committee and giving him Ariel’s offices to work from after his victory.

When Hobson came home from Princeton for Christmas break her sophomore year, Rogers invited her to meet his mother, Jewel Lafontant, at her Water Tower Place apartment. “I was in this beautiful apartment, and it just seemed so normal to them, and they were Black, which I had not ever seen before,” Hobson says. “The bar got reset in that moment.”

While interning at Ariel the following summer, Hobson didn’t hide her ambition. On Saturday mornings, Rogers would go to a McDonald’s downtown—on Wabash Avenue under the train tracks, Hobson remembers—order two biscuits with butter and a large Diet Coke and sit there reading a stack of newspapers. Hobson would show up with the same stack of papers and read them in the same order—just so she’d be prepared in case he commented on what he was reading.

“She was always eager to jump in the car wherever I was going,” Rogers says. He helped her get an internship with T. Rowe Price the next summer, and she interviewed with big Wall Street firms for a job after graduating from Princeton in 1991. But she joined tiny Ariel instead. Rather than being a small cog in a huge machine, she wanted to start her career in the room where decisions were made.

Rogers manages Ariel’s stock picking and investment strategies; Hobson oversees everything else. She became co-CEO in 2019, the same year she bought 14% of Rogers’ ownership stake—making her the largest shareholder in Ariel, with 39.5%. (Read more about Rogers’ current stock picks here.)

In its 40 years, Ariel has gone through some rough patches—the most harrowing during the 2008 global financial crisis, when the Ariel Fund, its largest, fell 48% and investors fled. The firm’s assets collapsed from $21 billion in 2004 to just $3.3 billion in March 2009, and it was forced to lay off 18 of its 100 employees. Hobson and Rogers visited their friend and mentor, billionaire investor Mario Gabelli, for advice. “Keep your seat belt fastened. Don’t sell the business,” Gabelli recalls telling them. “Don’t look for an equity partner. Keep it yourself and go full speed ahead.” They sent Gabelli a thank-you note, and after the Ariel Fund returned 63% in 2009, crushing its competition, he sent that note back to them in a frame with “I told you so” scrawled in big letters on top.

Project Black made its first investment last year, acquiring 52.5% of Utah-based Sorenson Communications from other private equity investors at an enterprise value of $1.3 billion. The two-decade-old company, with $837 million in sales in the year ended in September 2021, is the leader in services for the deaf and hard of hearing—providing everything from phone call captioning to sign-language interpreters. Sorenson’s new CEO is Jorge Rodriguez, a 53-year-old telecom veteran, who previously ran various subsidiaries for Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s América Móvil corporation.

In less than 12 months the company has gone from one person of color to 13 across its C-suite and boardroom. Sorenson is adding Spanish-language services and has agreed to acquire 70% of CQ Fluency, a minority-owned business with annual revenue of $45 million, that provides translation services to health insurers including Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group.

Over the next three years, Project Black plans to similarly buy, minoritize and expand companies in six to 10 other areas where it sees room for growth, based on its conversations with larger firms. It’s looking at financial and professional services, health care, technology, manufacturing and logistics. “We don’t want to be the provider of janitorial services,” emphasizes Ariel Alternatives CEO Leslie Brun. “We want to be in the mainstream of the economy and providing value-added services.”

Hobson and Brun aren’t just working their own C-suite contacts. Some of those original Sunday Zoom partici-pants are now advisors—people such as William M. Lewis, an Apollo partner who was chairman of investment banking at Lazard for 17 years ending in 2021, and James Bell, the former Boeing CFO whose board memberships include Apple. Naturally, Rogers, who sits on the boards of McDonald’s, Nike and the New York Times, is also an advisor.

Hobson, Brun and their backers throw around huge numbers about what Project Black and similar efforts can accomplish. Over the next decade, they forecast, their portfolio companies will generate an additional $8 billion to $10 billion in annual revenue while creating 100,000 jobs for underrepresented people. But that’s just the start. Some big corporations are talking about boosting purchases from minority-run suppliers from the current 2% to 10% or even 15%. That could translate to a trillion-dollar opportunity. The thesis, Steve Ballmer says, is that “there’s an untapped market” that “will not only benefit the community but will generate great returns for us as an investor.” Brun says he’ll consider Project Black a success if it spawns copycat investment funds.

Beyond the numbers, this is partly a networking play designed to match capital and people—which is, in essence, one of Hobson’s superpowers. Already, she says, “we’ve had people come to us and say ‘If you were to buy a business one day, maybe I could run it.’ ” She contrasts that with what she has long heard from big business. “So many times, especially in corporate America, they say they can’t identify the [minority] talent,” Hobson says. “We know them as friends. We know them up and down the food chain in corporate America. We know them as entrepreneurs. We know them as business leaders.”


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5 Ways to Expand Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business



In Rich Mintzer’s new book, Start Your Own Pet Business, the author expertly outlines everything you need to know to successfully launch a pet-based business. In this excerpt, we’ll look at ways to bring in new revenue streams that go beyond walking or sitting more furry clients.

Offer more services

If you really know your way around a pooch, these are some services that most dog owners are always in need of:

  • Grooming
  • Taxi service to veterinary and grooming appointments
  • Obedience training

Those are just a few of the possibilities. The good news about most of that list, and about a lot of services, is that your business incurs little in the way of additional costs per service. Typically, the cost to you is in time and perhaps a few supplies. Your real costs are in obtaining your own education and then any additional equipment you need to provide the service. It’s not likely all your customers will want to avail themselves of your new services, but some will. And voila! You’ve expanded

Selling products

The other way you can expand is to be a reseller of products that your existing customers might need. Many pet-related service providers find a product they really like and use on their own animals and then become a dealer for that product — certain kinds of leashes or collars, shampoo products, nutritional supplements, etc. This can be a great way to sell because your personal enthusiasm for the product comes across in a sincere way. Or you may find that your customers use some everyday products you could sell. This makes your customers’ lives a little easier and makes you some profit.

Some considerations for selling products:

  • Products have an upfront cost associated with them. Many companies require their dealers to buy a certain quantity each month to keep their dealership status and to
  • get the discount that you’ll need to make a profit on the item.
  • You need to have room to warehouse your supplies. With food, this warehousing can be very specific in terms of rodent-proofing.
  • Rather than trying to offer everything under the sun, find a niche market or a way to personalize the products. Perhaps you can provide customized frames and offer to print some of the million photos of poochie they have on their phone.

Related: Dive deeper with Start Your Own Pet Business on sale now

Night Watch or Off-Hour Feeding

Just because an animal hospital or pet store is closed does not mean the animals don’t need care. If you live in a populated enough area where several veterinary offices or pet stores are located, you may be able to make a whole business of off-hour service. This service could involve being the regular off-hour caretaker on certain days of the week. Or you could provide backup when the regular staff is sick or away. Care probably includes feeding, cleaning cages, and perhaps providing a bit of exercise to the animals. It definitely includes checking on each animal and reporting to the appropriate person if any animal seems unwell.

Doggie Day-Care Service

A new service that is becoming even more popular: doggie daycare. Working dog owners are using doggie daycare facilities like never before. It’s essentially multiple pet-sitting in one place of your choice. These facilities are intended for a working dog owner to drop off their dog in the morning and pick up the dog at the end of the workday. For this to go smoothly, you need to consider a number of things:

  • You will need play areas for the dogs. Actually, depending on the number of dogs you plan to take in at once, you’ll probably need several play areas. Not all dogs get along, and you want to sort them into groups that play well together.
  • The dogs need time to relax and take a break from playing with their buddies. You’ll need nap areas that are comfortable places to snooze, are warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • If you want to offer the best daycare, you should have a covered or indoor play area
  • so dogs can play in any weather.
  • This is not likely to be a business you will set up in your home. The liabilities, zoning laws, and so many other factors make it impractical unless you are only looking after two or three dogs. If you want to watch the herd, you’ll need to rent space. Then the question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you can get enough regular clients to cover the costs of renting a space. Crunch the numbers carefully before moving forward; start out with three dogs at your house and see if you really want to branch out.

Offer classes

You may be able to expand your business at least a little by offering classes in pet care, pet first aid, basic obedience training, or other kinds of training. You’ll need to find a space that allows classes with pets to be conducted. Teaching can be a fun adjunct to your business, and it can bring in business as well! Plan your presentation in advance, practice, show your enthusiasm for pets as well as the subject you’re teaching. You should probably first try training some dogs for your clients free of charge until you get the hang of it. Once you feel you are proficient, you can start charging modest fees with new clients to also help them train their dogs. You should include some one-on-one work with the owner and the dog together. You can give private lessons or run a class—but you’d better be good at it. If you develop a reputation for successfully training dogs, you can make good money. People will pay $30 to $80 per class for dog training, so it might be worthwhile to hone your skills.

Related: Pet Lovers, Here’s How to Get Your Dream Business or Side Hustle Started

Other Home-Related Services

Extra services over and above feeding, cleaning cat litter boxes, and letting dogs out can bring in extra money from additional fees and create more of an appeal for your services. They can also attract new customers. Pet owners hiring a pet sitter are pleased to know that the same person is also willing to bring in the mail, water the plants, turn a few lights on or off, and generally help give the home the appearance of being occupied.

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