Unbank Ventures FinTech Startup Cohort #1 Participant Summary

10/16/16 UPDATE: I added new info about BancSpace. See that entry below.

 

What follows is a summary of the participants in the first cohort for Unbank Ventures. My friend Brett Noyes built a FinTech startup incubator, and these are the companies who are involved. 

I'm putting website links, social media connections, and a few short questions/thoughts about each idea. Connect with the founders if you want more. Each of the logos is a click thru to the respective site. The F6S and AngelList links are for more info. I tried to include founder LinkedIn profiles where possible.

BancSpace is a secure, real-tie video banking and collaboration service that enables advisers and specialists to connect, engage, and transact with customers anytime, anywhere.

BancSpace re-imagines the high-touch service experience combining the best of digital technology with live expertise. Designed specifically for financial services with built in layers of security, authentication and controls, banks and fintech providers can now easily assist customers to immediately complete transactions such as open an account, apply for a loan ot mortgage, or provide a wealth of advice securely from any device.

UPDATE 10/17/16: The founder reached out to me saying what I previously stated here fell short of explaining the depth of her startup. I altered it to account for a better description of the entire idea. This all came down to me getting more and better information and properly defining this idea for the founder. 

Angel List & F6S  Founder: Lori Van Deloo  

 

Bookkeeper is a cloud-based data storage service built over Google Apps framework. It's designed to be cheaper, simpler, and more streamlined than broader financial services apps. Given the prevalence of Google on a global scale, this idea has big legs.

There are many other cloud-based accounting systems out there. Building on top of Google Apps is a great foundation for growth. 

AngelList & F6S  Founders: Krishna Caldas & Mael Caldas

This startup provides cheap currency exchange by giving you a debit card. I freely admit I know nothing about foreign currency markets. I can't provide any sort of opinion about this idea.

AngelList & F6S Links. Founders: Raffi Kayat & Islam Tawfik

HappyBot helps reduce employee turn over by utilizing AI and research from Harvard, MIT, and Wharton to deal with HR and culture issues within companies. On the face, this sounds good. I wonder what people will think when they find out a machine is tracking emails and Slack notifications to identify their issues.

I get that what this AI most likely handles is communication traffic and spotting trends in words and sentiment. Then it passes along the info to the C-Suite. Can the AI have feelings and understand when someone is venting versus when there is a real issue that needs to be addressed? Or maybe this is a complex keyword tracker?

AngelList & R6S Founders: Aaron Cohn & Apoorv Kothari

Income& is a fixed-income investment product geared specifically for retiring baby boomers. It's backed by real estate holding and provides a 6% return for investors along with the ability to customize a portfolio. 

This is one of three ideas in the group I will specifically watch. My first and only question is how will baby boomers feel about investing in a product that is backed by real estate after so many were burned by the housing bubble in 2008?

AngelList & F6S Founders: Benjamin Strub, Brad Walker, Keith Meyer, & Vincent Phillips

MoneyCarta provides cheap access to financial advisers. The mobile app also helps teach you about making smart financial choices by keeping score of what you do. Based upon the information you input, the MoreScore feature generates advice and recommendations for bettering your financial situation.

So how will people become motivated to download a mobile app that chastises them for buying too many lattes and magazines? A hyper-focused, well-defined ideal customer profile combined with an amazing UX is vital for people to stay motivated to use this app.

AngelList & R6S Founders: Bryan Knoebel & Dave Batton 

The mobile app is an start-to-finish facilitator for commercial real estate deals. It's a database, networking and chat app, and secure deal finishing platform. I see success coming from early champions who have a great experience on the app. This is the second of three startups I'm particularly interested in.

This is a very niche application and idea. I know when James Bohan-Pitt came up with HipPocket he fought hard against the establishment to gain traction. Assuming all the moving parts of this work as advertised and security is tight, Monetarex could speed up the discovery of, due diligence, and turn around time for deals. Time is money in real estate. That's how James sold his product to skeptical brokers and gained traction. 

AngelList & R6S Founders: Andrei Safonau & Olga Koroleva

Renovate Simply utilizes mobile app data to give the best pricing estimate for home improvement, and then match the project to local contractors. 

My first thought here: How is the different and better than Angie's List? 

AngelList & R6S Founders: Andrew Latimer & R. William Mitchell

This app is designed to better connect professors and students in the college setting. The founder believes other Learning Management Systems like Blackboard and outdated and poorly designed for modern students.

I'm more interested in the founder's journey here. Preston Ramirez and I connected previously when I was looking to write a post about his experience applying to The Mill in Las Vegas. Nothing ever came of anything after the first few emails, but it's good to see Preston still grinding away with his idea. 

AngelList & R6S Founder: Preston Ramirez

The Zayzoon mobile app employees to access their paycheck when they need money before payday in a similar format to payday loans. By partnering directly with employers, the app can pay out wages based upon hours worked at much lower rates and fees than the payday loan industry offers.

This the third idea I'm most interested in watching. The primary complaint out the short term loan industry is the high fees and rates charged. Employers usually balk at pay advances because of the extra paperwork and tracking that is involved. If this helps wage working employees by giving them access to money at a 90% cheaper rate than the payday loan industry offers, there are a lot of legs on this idea.

AngelList & R6S Founders: Craig Latimer, Darcy Tuer, & Tate Hackert

I'm working to get time with each founding team. Best case scenario I get them on my YouTube stream to talk about their idea. At the very least I'll do a full blog post for each startup. Stay tuned. . . .