Alumnae/i Feature

Julia Rodgers ’09 Makes a Deal on ABC's Shark Tank

Julia Rodgers

Simmons played a pivotal role in shaping who I am and how I interact in the business world. I took a lot of management classes and an entrepreneurship class, and Simmons taught me how to feel confident and take the lead.

What led you to Simmons? 

I love the idea of an all-women’s education. When I took a tour of Simmons and learned about the environment, women empowering other women, I knew that’s exactly what I wanted. Simmons was a safe place for highly motivated women focused on excelling academically while supporting each other and making genuine friendships.

I majored in marketing, but was already considering law – I was also part of the pre-law society at Simmons. I come from a family of lawyers. My mother ran her own practice, and I was interested in the business aspect of law. I loved the Marketing program at Simmons because it taught me skills that were transferable to the legal field.

What led you to your current role as a divorce attorney in Boston? 

I went to law school at night while working full-time so that I could get practical legal experience while earning my degree. During law school I worked as a paralegal at large firms and found that I didn’t love representing large corporations. Then I went to work at Mavrides Law Boston, which is a much smaller practice focused on divorce and prenuptial agreements. I observed the work divorce attorneys do, guiding their clients through this difficult time in their lives. It’s very one-on-one, walking them through the process from beginning to end. I liked that personal interaction; my favorite part of my job is talking to people and feeling like I am making a big difference in their lives.

What inspired you to launch HelloPrenup? 

I spoke to hundreds of potential prenup clients about what they’re looking for in a prenup, as well as their concerns and fears. I always enjoyed talking through the details of a prenup with clients to better understand their values and why this document was important to them. Over the years, I have seen a shift in engaged couples opting for a prenup more readily, and in doing so, looking for a more collaborative process. For example, many potential clients would ask me why they had to each hire an attorney to draft a prenup, when both parties agreed on the terms. I always heard, “No offense, but isn't there an easier way to do this?” 

Through this feedback, I realized that finding a way to create a more collaborative, fast, and less expensive prenup was necessary. Ultimately, couples are preparing to spend their lives together and so this should be a document they work on together. Those insights inspired me to start HelloPrenup, an online platform that automates the process. HelloPrenup offers couples a fast and affordable way to create a prenup, together. It’s also a safe online space full of valuable information that is easily digestible. No other online source presents the information the way we do, or has as much information on prenups as we offer. 

Can you speak to the demand and current market for prenups?

From my experience in talking to potential clients, there seems to be an increased interest and acceptance of prenups. Millenials are often children of divorce — the first generation to experience that on a large scale — so there is an emotional piece to this for them. Younger generations are getting married later in life, with more assets and more student debt. They’re thinking, “I want to do this right. I don’t want to have the fights about money that my parents had.” Millenials get prenups because they are realistic about marriage, and women of that generation tend to be more independent, career-focused, and financially savvy than ever before.

Women also want to be clear about their financial goals and career aspirations, especially if they plan to take time off to take care of kids. One reason I built HelloPrenup is to protect women in those circumstances. Taking time off for child-rearing can impact their earning capacity, which funnels into the wealth gap between men and women. Prenups allow women to contract with their spouse in a way that would protect them significantly more than the law would, allocating funds to make up for lost earning power. 

Tell us about your experience on Shark Tank.

Sarabeth [Jaffe] and I came up with our pitch via Zoom. We didn’t meet until the night before SharkTank was filmed, though we had been working together remotely since March 2021. Our SharkTank audition and final practice pitch was done via Zoom, because of COVID-19. We were very prepared, though we didn’t have a script outside of our pitch–we knew our talking points. 

The taping goes quickly, and you don’t get a second take. We were in the room for about 60-90 minutes, which was edited to only eight minutes of footage! I talked a lot about how HelloPrenup can offset the wealth gap — that part didn’t air, but the Sharks really responded to it. There was a lot more discussion and negotiation than was aired in the 8 minutes, which was to be expected. Before presenting in the tank, we had aimed to get Mr. Wonderful [Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary] on board, because he has so many wedding related businesses, and he is a Boston resident! 

How is the partnership going? 

The deal made on SharkTank was a handshake deal, and we only recently finalized the contract terms. The Sharks — O’Leary and Nirav Tolia [co-founder of Nextdoor] — have been wonderful and very communicative. They are both incredible business people, with innovative ideas on how to scale HelloPrenup. They agree that this is a great product for Millenials, and has widespread appeal. So far we’ve really enjoyed working with them.  

How did Simmons prepare you to become a leader in your field?

Simmons played a pivotal role in shaping who I am and how I interact in the business world. I took a lot of management classes and an entrepreneurship class, and Simmons taught me how to feel confident and take the lead. My professors at Simmons always encouraged students to feel empowered, and we focused on and learned how women can be powerful leaders. 

While attending Simmons, people would say, “if you want to go into business, you’ll have to interact with men. How can you learn to do that at an all-women’s college?” But that is such a misconception — Simmons gives its students a headstart in growing into strong, confident women at a pivotal point in their lives. Education shapes your career focus, who you are and who you want to be. Simmons helped me figure out how I wanted to operate in the business world and in the start -up world, both of which are male-dominated. I learned how to command a room because I have the confidence that Simmons instilled in me. When I talk about Simmons, it comes from such a deep place of gratitude. If I had gone to another college, I would not be the person I am today.

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