Barclays & Techstars Graduate Latest Fintech Accelerator Class in NY
Today, 10 teams will demo their fintech ideas as the latest batch of startups to come through the Barclays Accelerator in New York.
British bank Barclays and startup accelerator Techstars collaborate to run the program here, with managing director Jenny Fielding heading things up. She also runs the Techstars IoT (Internet of Things) Accelerator in New York.
The first New York class of the Barclays Accelerator graduated last October. Barclays also runs fintech accelerators in its home city of London, as well as in Cape Town, South Africa and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Fielding spoke with me prior to demo day, and says current themes in the fintech world manifested in the latest Barclays class. For example, real estate tech is seeing a resurgence in New York, she says, and two graduates of this class came from that niche. StackSource is an online marketplace for commercial real estate debt capital. Their platform is billed as an efficient way to market deals to lenders and to negotiate financing packages.
“Super sharp team out of Google that realized the commercial real estate world is incredibly antiquated,” Fielding says. “The tools the lenders have are really out of date.”
Another startup focused on the real estate sector is Create, which developed a smart-3D map packed with data about cities and property markets. In a city such as New York, there are opportunities to collaborate with real estate and economic development organizations, Fielding says. “They take data from multiple sources, distilling millions of data points from local, federal, state, private organizations, and are able to automate the countless hours of research and deliver insights in a single click,” she says.
Another theme in this class came from the gig economy, Fielding says, where freelancers and other part-timers connect with temporary and short-term jobs. That includes freelance designers, journalists, and real estate agents. Painless1099 is a smart, automated bank that helps freelancers set money aside to cover their taxes.
“Right now, 1099 workers typically get hit with these huge tax bills,” Fielding says. “These guys set up a savings account that helps them save monthly in preparation for tax season.”
One of the startups saw room for improvement in the mortgage industry, she says. Morty is an online digital mortgage platform for homebuyers. CEO Brian Faux worked in the mortgage business for 15 years, Fielding says, and saw that even as of last year, people in the industry still used fax machines and reams and reams of paper. Morty’s technology matches people with mortgages that suit their needs, quickly and at low cost, Fielding says.
“Right now it takes about $7,000 and approximately 15 days to close a mortgage,” she says. “They can do it within a few hours and for like $50.”
Here is a quick look at the rest of the class:
—acuteIQ is a customer acquisition, auction-based platform for commercial brokers that uses artificial intelligence and predictive modeling. The platform is aimed at the enterprise lending market.
—Alpha Exchange is an open communications network and knowledge exchange for the capital markets community. The platform was created to change the way institutions interact, share knowledge, and find investment insight.
—Chroma.fund is a marketplace lending platform for impact investing, and uses loan data that lets anyone create new credit models.
—ERNIT calls itself the world’s first smart piggy bank. The app and connected piggy bank give empower children a way to learn money management skills
—PierceMatrix helps with company security by identifying and orchestrating the removal of hackers from networks. Its program, which has an AI engine first used by the U.S. military, reviews events on the network and then gives recommendations to improve security.
—Windrush puts data visualization tools in the hands of analysts, letting them create live-updating interactive charts from Excel. The intent is make analysts more productive and to generate higher quality reports.
With this second go-around for the Barclays Accelerator in New York, Fielding says it was easier to get the word out to the innovation community about what the program offers. Some of the teams from this class come from around the world.
Compared with the first New York class, which developed strictly business-to-business technology, this time the Barclays Accelerator had more startups with ideas that could be consumer-facing. Fielding says this reflects the opportunities banks are seeing in the business-to-consumer space in fintech, and the potential to partner with such startups.
Institutions such as Goldman Sachs are taking much earlier looks at investment opportunities in the space, Fielding says, part of the momentum that is building in the sector.
“If you look at the top unicorns, 12 or 13 percent of them are fintech companies,” Fielding says.
Going forward, the Barclays Accelerator in New York may look at including more consumer-facing companies, and possibly insurance tech, Fielding says.
“The formula is working,” she says, “We just want to expand into other areas that are within fintech depending on how you define it.”