Motozuma Snags $1 Million Investment, Relaunches as BoostUp

In August, we reported that Motozuma—an Illinois-based startup that allows users to set up free online savings accounts where they can put money towards a new car and invite friends and family to help contribute—had quietly established a Detroit office. It turns out Detroit is the company’s new headquarters as it relaunches today as BoostUp with an expanded mission: To help consumers save for all of life’s big purchases, be it a car, a home, a wedding, or a honeymoon.

BoostUp offers consumers a banking platform with the ability to reach out to friends and family to ask for contributions, and has partnered with companies like Hyundai to offer incentives to help BoostUp users meet their savings goals. For instance, Hyundai will add a savings boost of up to $500 for BoostUp users who purchase a Hyundai vehicle.

BoostUp also has partnerships in 31 states with 142 car dealerships specializing in a wide variety of brands, and BoostUp will soon be announcing major partnerships in the wedding, home, and vacation industries. The company plans to monetize by selling sales leads.

“All of our social tools allow users to share with family and friends,” says founder and CEO John Morgan. “It’s like a bank plus crowdfunding. It’s free to transfer funds and it’s free to use. The incentives or ‘boost’ is the cherry on top.”

U.S. Bank is BoostUp’s banking partner, and BoostUp uses its application programming interface, or API, to handle transactions. BoostUp users can even choose to divert a set amount from each paycheck—$50, say—to their BoostUp accounts by setting up regular direct deposits.

The company was enticed to relocate to Detroit from Chicago by Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert. According to a 2012 report by Heardable, Quicken Loans is the top online mortgage brand. By the company’s own estimation, it’s a top 10 mortgage servicer with more than $90 billion in its mortgage servicing portfolio. Although Quicken Loans hasn’t been officially announced as a partner, having BoostUp in its so-called family of companies is a good way to acquire more young, Internet-savvy customers.

BoostUp recently secured a $1 million round of funding led by Gilbert’s Detroit Venture Partners. Other investors include Cornerstone Opportunity Partners, angel investor Patrick Sullivan, and IncWell, a venture capital firm in Birmingham, MI, headed by former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda. “Tom has signed on as our personal advisor,” Morgan adds.

Morgan says that at the time of relaunch, Motozuma had about 25,000 users, and that’s with a miniscule marketing budget. The company currently has five full-time employees and expects to be hiring soon.

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