• Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. 
  • Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision.

Fintech funding has been on a tear.

In the first three quarters of 2021, global fintech funding reached $94.7 billion — nearly doubling the total volume invested in the segment in 2020, according to data from CB Insights.

Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. 

Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You’ll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on


digital banking

, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. 


Retirement accounts for crypto

Head shot of Todd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital

Todd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.

iTrustCapital


Todd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts.

“We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use,” Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. 

That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. 

“We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA” for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.

iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.


A new way to assess creditworthiness

Pinwheel cofounders

Pinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.

Pinwheel


Growing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. 

A “traditional, stoic figure,” Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.

Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father’s applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. 

“That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack,” Lin told Insider. “The system doesn’t work for a lot of people — including my dad,” he added. 

Lin would find a solution to his father’s problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories.

“That’s when the lightbulb hit,” said Lin, Pinwheel’s CEO.

In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. 


A new data feed for bond trading

bond trading desk



Mark Lennihan/AP


For years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a


corporate bond

was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. 

A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. 

BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs’ defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. 

Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.

But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.


A trading app for activism

Antoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare

Antoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.

Tulipshare


An up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world’s largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.

London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals’ shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.

The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. 

“If you ask your friends and family if they’ve ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero,” CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. “I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people’s lives and our planet — what’s more powerful than money to change the system we live in?”


The back-end tech for beauty

Danielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGenius

Danielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGenius

GlossGenius


Danielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.

After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. 

“There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks,” Cohen-Shohet told Insider. 

Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.

Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.


Private market data on the blockchain

Pat O'Meara

Pat O’Meara, CEO of Inveniam.

Inveniam


For investors in publicly-traded stocks, there’s typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.

But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn’t always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.

Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. 


Helping freelancers with their taxes

Jaideep Singh, CEO and co-founder of FlyFin.

Jaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.

FlyFin


Some people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. 

That’s why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, “fly through their finances.” 

FlyFin is set up to connect to a person’s bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. 

“For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization,” Singh told Insider.


 Shopify for embedded finance

Head shot of Duy Vo, CEO and founder of Productfy

Productfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.

Productfy


Productfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.

Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.

The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. 

“You don’t need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who’s just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store,” Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.


Agora founders

Agora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.

Agora


For alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.

Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that’s where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.

Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. 

On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.


Ryan Breslow.JPG

Bolt’s Ryan Breslow.

Ryan Breslow


Amazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.

Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.

The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants’ own websites in October.

Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt’s pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. 

Roughly 5% of Bolt’s transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer’s website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network.

“The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise,” Bolt’s founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.


CollateralEdge

CollateralEdge’s Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.

CollateralEdge


For large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation’s biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. 

But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don’t always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.

Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.

On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.


 

Head shot of Matt Johnson, CEO of QC Ware

QC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.

QC Ware


Even though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn’t stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. 

And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.

QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech’s Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.

Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. 


Beacon Kirat Singh, Mark Higgins

Kirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon’s cofounders.

Beacon


A fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country’s biggest investment managers.

Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. 

Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon’s tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.

The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.


Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-founders, pose outside in front of hedge

Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.

Now


About a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.

Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business’ cap, there was a hang-up.

“It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors,” Hodgson told Insider. “Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow.”

While it’s not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn’t secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. 

The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  

“Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we’re the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you’ve essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later,” Hodgson said. “And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods,” she added.


Insurance goes digital

Jamie Hale Ladder

Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.

Ladder


Fintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by


digital trends

and artificial intelligence shape the market. 

And while verticals like auto, homeowner’s, and renter’s insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. 

Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.

Life,


annuity

, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner’s insurance.


Embedded payments for SMBs

Highnote

The Highnote team.

Highnote


Branded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. 

The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.

Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. 

The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.


An alternative auto lender

Head shot of Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor

Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.

Tricolor


An alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. 

Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. 

Half of Tricolor’s customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.

A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. 

“For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle,” Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.


A new way to access credit 

A photo of the TomoCredit team

The TomoCredit team.

TomoCredit


Kristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. 

Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn’t initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. 

“I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything,” Kim told Insider. “Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn’t have a Fico, we weren’t given a chance to even apply,” she added.

Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.


An IRA for alternatives

Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.

Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.

Rocket Dollar


Fintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.

Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken’s venture arm. 

Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a


roboadvisor

called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs’ investment management division for an estimated $20 million.

Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.


Connecting startups and investors

Blair Sliverberg head shot

Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.

Hum Capital


Blair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.

For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups.

“I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they’re meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions,” Silverberg told Insider. 

He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.

On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. 


Payments infrastructure for fintechs

Head shot of Patricia Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo

Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.

Qolo


Three years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. 

“A lot of new economy companies or 


fintech companies

 were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren’t able to,” Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.

Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. 

“The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech,” she said, adding that “at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts.”

The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.


Software for managing freelancers

Headshot of Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen

Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.

Worksome


The way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.

But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.

Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.

In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.


Personal finance is only a text away

Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.

Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.

Albert


The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.

The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert’s savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. 

Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It’s looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.

Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that’s a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. 

And Albert’s now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.


Rethinking debt collection 

Headshot of Jason Satlzman, founder of Relief

Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief

Relief


For lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  

Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. 

Relief’s fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.


Blockchain for private-markets investing 

Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.

Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.

Securitize


Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.

Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley’s Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.


E-commerce focused business banking

Headshot of Novo cofounders Michael Rangel (CEO) and Tyler McIntyre (CTO)

Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.

Kristelle Boulos Photography


Business banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can’t get enough.

Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.

Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. 


Blockchain-based credit score tech 

John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.

John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.

Spring Labs


A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples’ creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.

Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.

Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.

TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus


market cap

, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.


Digital banking for freelancers

freelance freelancer remote working remotely typing



JGalione/Getty Images


Lance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an “active” approach to business banking. 

“We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it,” Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. 

Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that’s connected to automated tax withholdings.

In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.


Digital tools for independent financial advisors

Jason Wenk, Altruist

Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist

Altruist


Jason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he’s running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. 

The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup’s total funding to just under $67 million.

Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an “all-in-one” platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.

Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. 


Payments and operations support 

HoneyBook Oz Naama Dror co founders

HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.

HoneyBook


While countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.

Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.

Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup’s startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company’s fundraising total to $227 million to date.


Fraud prevention for lenders and insurers

woman shopping online using laptop



Fiordaliso/Getty Images


Onboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.

But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that’s where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls “digital body language,” or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It’s built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players.

“The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there’s a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy,” Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.

Founded in 2014, the startup’s pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. 

In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.


AI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews 

Fakespot CEO

Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.

Fakespot


Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.

That’s where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart.

“There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms,” Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. “Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy.”

Fakespot’s AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.


New twists on digital banking

Zach Bruhnke, HMBradley

Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley

HMBradley


Consumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. 

The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. 

“Our thesis going in was that we don’t swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don’t think the customer base that we’re focusing on does either,” Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. “A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis.”

Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.

Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. 

“We’ll pay you more when you save more of what comes in,” Bruhnke said. “We didn’t want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us.”

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