Meet BrightScope: The Morningstar of 401(k) Plans

If you live in Silicon Valley, chances are you are going to run into someone doing a startup focusing on social and/or mobile. Or maybe a company seeking opportunities in cloud computing or wireless infrastructure. It is hard to find companies that are well — different and are looking to disrupt other, different markets. Perhaps that is why I was immediately taken in by BrightScope, a San Diego-based company that is taking government data and turning it into actionable information.


BrightScope is the brainchild of two brothers – Mike and Ryan Alfred – and Dan Weeks, a veteran Hewlett Packard (s Hpq) engineer who quit his job to work on a problem that has been plaguing millions of Americans: how to get better context around 401(k) plans and how they compare to other 401(k) plans. They got raw data (and I mean printouts) from the U.S. Department of Labor and built what they call the BrightScope rating.

BrightScope’s role model is Morningstar, a company that has made a fortune out of rating mutual funds and then sharing that information with average Americans. In this video interview, the Alfred brothers share their story, including the vital importance of whiskey and sibling rivalry in creative thinking. I hope you guys have as much fun watching this video as I had interviewing them.