Finovate Alumni News


  • Top Five Trends in Customer Engagement Technology.
  • Coder, Broker, Music Producer: Hellenic Bank’s Natasha Kyprianides is Inspired by Constraints.
  • LendKey Raises $13 Million in Equity and Debt Financing.

Around the web

  • PaySimple and Ping Identity named on list of top ten startups developing in Denver, Colorado
  • Citigroup expands partnership with PayPal to allow card members to use rewards points for purchases at PayPal checkout in the U.S.
  • Darwinex wins spot in South Summit Startup Competition 2017.
  • TD Ameritrade TickerTape blog spotlights social sentiments app, LikeFolio.
  • Dwolla adds multi-user feature to its Access API Dashboard.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Karmic Labs Lands $17.2 Million to Grow Enterprise Payment Solutions

Karmic Labs, the creator of Dash expense management platform, has received $17.2 million in Series B funding, bringing the company’s total funding to just under $25 million. Participating in the round were Alsop Louie Partners, Arbor Ventures, Greycroft, Marketplace Funds, Startup Capital Ventures, and others.

As part of the deal Wei Hopeman, Managing Partner at Arbor Ventures, and Jim Whims, Partner at Alsop-Louie Partners, have joined the San Francisco-based company’s board of directors. Karmic anticipates the funds will fuel the expansion of its enterprise-focused business. “This investment propels Karmic to the next stage of growth, and adding Wei and Jim’s expertise to our board will help us get there quicker,” said Mario Furgiuele, CEO of Karmic.

Founded in 2014, the company debuted the Dash Prepaid Mastercard at FinovateSpring 2015. The platform supplies employees with prepaid Mastercards and enables managers to view, approve, and control employee spending via the Dash mobile app. Karmic also offers co-branded and fully-customized card and mobile app products for a more seamless, branded experience.

EquityZen Secures $3 Million in Round Led by Draper Associates

EquityZen, a secondary marketplace for trading pre-IPO shares, has taken in $3 million in funding this week. This Series A round brings the company’s total funding to $6.5 million. Draper Associates led the round, with WorldQuant Ventures also participating.

The EquityZen marketplace connects shareholders of private companies with its current pool of 20,000 accredited investors. The platform offers shareholders the ability to unlock liquidity tied up in privately-held shares of startups, while providing an alternative investment opportunity for investors, who can access the privately-held shares for a minimum of $20,000.

Since it was founded in 2013, New York-based EquityZen has closed more than 2,000 investments in more than 20 private companies. The company plans to use the new funds to expand its operations both within and outside of the U.S. and to make investments more accessible to qualified investors. Atish Davda, EquityZen CEO said, “We are excited to partner with [Draper Associates] as we expand investment access to tens of thousands more qualified investors who are tired of sitting on the sidelines watching a small number of Silicon Valley insiders profit from the private returns.”

Atish Davda, EquityZen CEO & Founder, and Ketan Bhalla, Product Lead debut EquityZen Institutional at FinovateSpring 2016

At FinovateSpring 2016, the company debuted EquityZen Institutional, which enables institutional investors to browse and access listings on behalf of multiple investment accounts. The institutional offering also has post-investment analytics to help advisors monitor risk and simplify reporting. Last summer, EquityZen’s Davda was featured on CNBC and earlier this year we featured the company in our review of top wealthtech players.

Finovate Alumni News


  • EquityZen Secures $3 Million in Round Led by Draper Associates.
  • Karmic Labs Lands $17.2 Million to Grow Enterprise Payment Solutions.
  • Innovation Acceleration: Incubators and Incubation Labs Drive Development in Fintech.

Around the web

  • MoneYou integrates Mitek’s identity solutions for real-time digital onboarding.
  • Xignite launches the Xignite Channel Partner Program to offer partners integrated cloud-based market data solutions.
  • Betterment launches new Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Portfolio.
  • Forbes profiles Unison in look at the challenges facing homebuying millennials.
  • CrowdFlower adds former Amazon AI product specialist Robert Munro as VP of Machine Learning.
  • NuCypher introduces its decentralized key management system, NuCypher KMS.
  • AltFi talks about the role of “platformification” in supporting innovation in fintech with Avoka CEO Phil Copeland.
  • IDG Connect interviews Xpenditure CEO Boris Bogaert on current trends in banking including blockchain R&D.
  • IBM opens new data centers in London, U.K.; Sydney, Australia; and San Jose, California.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Flybits Raises $6.5 Million to Help Banks Put Data to Work

Consumer data contextualization company Flybits pulled in $6.5 million this week, bringing the Toronto-based company’s total funds to $14 million.

The Series B funding was led by Information Venture Partners. New investor Portag3 Ventures LP also participated along with existing investors Robert Bosch Venture and Trellis Capital. As a part of the agreement, Information Venture Partners’ co-founders Robert Antoniades and David Unsworth will join Flybits’ board of directors.

“This funding will allow us to ramp up our sales efforts in the United States and Europe, reinforce our existing global presence and expand our product and engineering teams to strengthen Flybits’ unique machine learning capabilities,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama, Founder and CEO of Flybits. “Our product focus now is simplifying how our customers leverage their data ecosystem and drive customer engagement.”

Jordanne Pavao, Product Manager (left) and  Hossein Rahnama, CEO & Founder (right) demo Flybits Experience Studio at FinovateSpring 2017

Founded in 2013, Flybits helps banks convert big data into business intelligence to offer consumers personalized experiences, promotions, and product recommendations. Earlier this year, the company debuted its Flybits Experience Studio at FinovateSpring 2017. The Experience Studio helps banks create and deliver personalized, digital experiences for their clients at scale. This helps banks waste fewer resources on IT complexities such as machine learning, semantic processing, and data contextualization and instead focus on delivering an exceptional user experience.

Rahnama was recently named to Forbes’ Top 40 under 40 for 2017. In 2016, the company earned recognition as a cool vendor in Gartner’s Platform-as-a-Service report and in 2015 received Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Canada award as a “Company to Watch.” With offices in Toronto, the San Francisco Bay Area, London, and Singapore, Flybits not only serves the financial services industry, but also travel and hospitality, retail, and events.

Urban FT Acquires iParse

B2B digital banking platform Urban FT acquired Oregon-based iParse today. Urban FT plans to leverage iParse’s technology and its mobile banking-related patents.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Operations will continue as usual for iParse, which will function as a separate division from Urban FT. All staff (except for the founders, who are retiring) will continue as employees of Urban FT’s new unit. The company’s CEO, Richard Steggall, is calling the new deployment a “mobile banking plug-in solution” because it empowers financial institutions of any size to compete in the mobile banking space by plugging directly into their core, simulating integration. Urban FT estimates the mobile plug-in option will be available to clients within the next couple of months.

In the press release, Steggall said:

“The iParse tech strategically complements Urban FT’s suite of white-label mobile banking solutions by providing a proprietary way to bypass core processor integration, while delivering a robust mobile banking service for financial institutions to offer to their customers…. now credit unions and banks of any size can play—and play competitively—in the mobile banking space.”

Founded in 2013, Urban FT expects the number of bank clients it serves to double to more than 150 within the next year. Kasey Kaplan, Urban FT President said, “On the bank side, we size the market at approximately 12,500 potential targets, and we know that almost 42 percent of credit unions have yet to launch any form of mobile banking.”

At FinovateFall 2016, Urban FT debuted the Workshop, a real-time mobile app management platform that enables banks to quickly configure, brand, and launch mobile banking apps without coding. The company has 40 employees and, in addition to financial institutions, also serves clients in telecommunications, insurance, and travel. Among the New York-based company’s partners are Sprint, Boost Mobile, Yelp, Banc of California, and Sunrise Banks.

Blend Launches Native Mobile App

Blend, a startup that helps lenders make better mortgage lending decisions, announced a native mobile app last week. The San Francisco-based company’s launch of Blend Mobile aims empower loan officers to manage borrower requests and applications on their mobile device in order to facilitate communication between the two parties.

Founded in 2012, Blend has 30 clients and has raised $60 million. The company’s lender-facing system offers a digital, paperless mortgage application process. The customizable interface is designed to reduce friction in borrower interactions and aims to help loan originators close up to seven to ten days faster.

With Blend’s new native app, lenders can cater to borrowers by enabling them to complete a mortgage application when and where they prefer, with the ability to switch among channels. The app also leverages push notifications and alerts to facilitate communication between the two parties. For example, the app notifies lenders if they have a period of inactivity greater than 48 hours in order to decrease the time to close. The new app is available to all current and new Blend clients.

Blend demoed its data-driven mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. The company was recently named to CB Insights’ Fintech 2015 list. Earlier this year, we highlighted Blend’s role in growing the mortgagetech scene and interviewed CEO Nima Ghamsari in a feature on Blend last year.

Finovate Alumni News


Around the web

  • BanqUP announces alpha roll-out alpha of SME fintech bank.
  • Flywire announces record results in payments processed and institutions and students served in the past year.
  • Expensify ships 5 new travel integrations.
  • Revolut’s new feature allows users to generate their own IBAN for Euro transactions.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Summit View: Demands of Different Digital Market Segments

Our expanded FinovateFall conference is coming up on September 11 through 14, and we’re taking a look at each of the six summit discussions that will take place after the demos. Today, we’re examining digital markets.

Summit #5: Digital Markets

Know your customer is an important regulation to abide by. But it is also a key marketing principle. Because every market is different, the only way to successfully up-sell and cross-sell products and services is to know and understand how tastes and preferences can vary in different markets.

Here’s an examination of four major digital markets. Each section outlines the group’s preferred channels, thought principles, and a set of services generally important to that group.


  • Preferred channel: Mobile only
  • Key principles
    • Liquidity
    • Real-time money movement
    • Simple and transparent communication
  • Services needed
    • Prepaid
    • Check cashing
    • Credit building and education
    • Basic budgeting
    • Billpay
  • Company examples
    • Urban FT (pictured right)
    • PayNearMe
    • Refundo
    • Mobino
    • LendUp
    • Wipit


  • Preferred channel: Mobile first
  • Key principles
    • Fun
    • Simple and transparent language
    • Gamification and interactivity
  • Services needed
    • Financial education
    • Savings
    • Parent-loaded prepaid card
  • Company examples
    • FamZoo (pictured)
    • Oink (f.k.a. Virtual Piggy)
    • PlayMoolah
    • DoughMain
    • OnDot


  • Preferred channel: Mix of mobile and web
  • Key principles:
    • Limited use of credit
    • Simple UI/UX
    • Easy access to move and spend money
  • Services needed:
    • Retirement saving and advice tools
    • Saving and budgeting tools
    • Debt repayment tools
    • P2P payment service
    • Billpay
    • Auto and home loans
  • Company examples
    • Moven
    • Qapital (pictured)
    • Student Loan Genius
    • Roostify
    • FutureAdvisor (owned by Blackrock)
    • Acorns
    • AutoGravity


  • Preferred channel: Mix of web and branch
  • Key principles:
    • Account security
    • Liquidity
    • Earned interest
    • Tax mitigation
  • Services needed:
    • Fixed income budgeting
    • Investing tools
    • Wealth management and advisory services
    • Estate planning
    • Tax planning and mitigation
    • Fraud protection
  • Company examples
    • TrueLink (pictured)
    • AARP
    • EverSafe
    • WiseBanyan

The upcoming Digital Markets Summit at FinovateFall will offer a day of discussions from industry thought leaders, top fintechs, and banks. Be a part of these live panel discussions at FinovateFall; register and save your spot at the show. A few summit highlights include:

  • Underbanked and financial inclusion
  • Youth (age 7-18) and their parents
  • Millennials
  • Seniors
  • Financial management in the gig economy

This is the fifth of our six FinovateFall Summit series. Stay tuned next week, when we’ll cover future technologies.

Ephesoft Earns $15 Million Investment from Mercato Partners

Document capture and data analytics company Ephesoft landed $15 million in Series A funding from Mercato Partners. This marks the company’s first round of funding since it was founded in 2010.

“Mercato’s investment will help Ephesoft realize its vision of liberating meaning through machine learning technology,” said Ike Kavas, Ephesoft’s founder. “We view Mercato as a long-term strategic partner, and we appreciate their experience in helping visionary technology companies accelerate and manage growth. This funding will enable Ephesoft to help organizations improve business outcomes by identifying and rationalizing dark data, then understanding how it impacts their business.”

Ephesoft’s cloud-based, machine learning technology generates insights from unstructured content by capturing, extracting, and analyzing raw data for its 500 customers that operate in a variety of sectors ranging from financial services, Federal government, insurance, mortgage and healthcare. At FinovateSpring 2017, the company demoed how its platform can be used to comb through international transaction data to identify and catch money launderers.

(pictured left to right): Ike Kavas (CTO)and Alex Welsh (Vice President, Analytics Practice) at FinovateSpring 2017

The California-based company will use the investment to accelerate product development and expand operations, market presence, and sales. As a part of the investment, Joe Kaiser Principal at Mercato Partners, will join Ephesoft’s Board of Directors.

In a press release, Kaiser said:

“Organizations are struggling with the enormous volume of unstructured content, which represents upwards of 80% of all available content, and is growing at a rate of 43% per year. To provide tangible value, that information needs to be processed and analyzed. Ephesoft’s solutions are disrupting the advanced capture market with a definitive value proposition: apply machine learning to convert these unstructured information streams and repositories into actionable data.”

Earlier this month, the company announced the availability of its cloud services on Microsoft Azure. In June, Ephesoft established its Asia Pacific offices in Sydney, Australia. The company was named to the 2015 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in America and has recently received a patent for its machine learning technology.