Youth Investing App EarlyBird Raises $4 Million in New Funding

Youth Investing App EarlyBird Raises $4 Million in New Funding

EarlyBird, a mobile investing app for children and their families, has raised $4 million in seed funding today. Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six led the round, which featured strategic participation from Gemini’s Frontier Fund, Network Ventures, Rarebreed Ventures, and other angel and VC investors. The company will use the capital to continue building its solution, add to its engineering, product, marketing, and operations teams, and introduce new features – including the ability for users to invest and gift assets other than stocks and ETFs, such as cryptocurrencies.

The investment takes the company’s total funding to more than $7 million, having secured funding previously in November and January of last year.

Using a collaborative approach to next-generation wealth building, EarlyBird enables parents to set up an investment account, select from a number of diversified portfolio options, and begin making investments on behalf of their child. The platform also empowers members of a child’s extended network of family, friends, and others to contribute to the account (“gifted capital” EarlyBird calls it). Whether celebrating birthdays, holidays, or other occasions, these contributions are not only unique gift options, they also help young people begin to learn about the importance of investing and building wealth over time. The technology also has a feature that enables contributors to add a video or photo commemorating the gift.

“EarlyBird started with the vision to create an accessible way for all families to begin building wealth for their children, and to do so with the support, love, and contributions of their broader communities,” EarlyBird co-founder and CEO Jordan Wexler said. “Since our launch, we’ve seen incredible growth, adoption, and excitement from families with a wide range of financial knowledge and backgrounds. Seven Seven Six and all of our new partners recognize the importance of financial access and approachability in investing, and we’re thrilled to have them on board as we continue to take flight.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and founded in 2019, EarlyBird recently announced a partnership with Benjamin Talks, a youth-oriented financial education platform launched by co-founders Nikki Boulukos and Carissa Jordan last fall. The collaboration will bring Benjamin Talks content to EarlyBird’s newsletter series “The Weekend Worm” which offers stock market news in an approachable way that parents can share with their children. This spring, EarlyBird introduced its Gifts for Good program. Starting this April, EarlyBird selected up to three “extraordinary kids between the ages of 3 and 12 years old to support and invest in.” With an eye toward young people showing achievement in areas such as music and the arts, athletics, academics, and “special acts of kindness,” EarlyBird will provide a gift investment of $250 to each child selected to seed their investment accounts.

“Investing tools are only available to families with investing knowledge and experience building generational wealth,” EarlyBird COO Caleb Frankel said in a statement accompanying today’s investment news. “We have a bold vision to make investing available for everybody. We are driving wealth creation not within the system of today, but for the world of tomorrow.”

Be sure to check out our interview with Jordan Wexler from earlier this year.

Photo by Radovan Zierik from Pexels

Meet The Beans: Financial Wellness for the Caring Class

Meet The Beans: Financial Wellness for the Caring Class

Seeing is believing, goes the old saying. And as far as The Beans is concerned, seeing is key to savings, as well.

At least that’s the thinking behind Atlanta, Georgia-based fintech, The Beans, which leverages Visual Financial Planning in order to power its eponymous, iOS financial planning app.

“The world is rapidly becoming more visual and traditional financial services are too complicated, or so costly that they become inaccessible,” Melissa Pancoast, CEO and founder of The Beans, said. “The Beans is designed to empower all people to make Visual Financial Plans effortlessly, and our growing community in Atlanta is evidence of the widespread need that we are addressing.”

A former math teacher who later became a researcher at the University of Oxford, Pancoast developed Visual Financial Planning as a way for people to create easy-to-follow financial plans that help them manage both their spending and savings – and avoid the high levels of stress that often accompanies financial planning efforts. Features of the app include the ability to create personalized visual financial plans, automated transaction labelling for expense tracking, and real-time support and alerts to inform users of account balances, Safe to Spend amounts, and more. Pancoast has said that she hopes that those working in what she called “the caring class” of teachers, health care workers, and others – people with jobs that often are especially and consistently stressful – will be first among those who take advantage of The Beans’ solution.

The Beans made fintech headlines in recent days on news that the company, which turns four this year, secured its first seed funding last week. The $2 million investment was led by Percursor Ventures and featured participation from Swing Ventures, Relay Ventures, Oxford Angel Fund, and One Planet. The fundraising added to the $1.4 million in pre-seed capital the company has raised over the course of two previous rounds.

In addition to offering an app, The Beans has hosted free financial wellness workshops for more than 30 schools and organizations in the Atlanta area. And organizations like the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the United Nations, have worked to bring the benefits of Visual Financial Planning to millions of families around the world.

“I used The Beans’ recommendations on how to divide up my money and was able to bring my Sheltered expenses (rent, utilities, subscriptions, and savings) down to 60% of my income, including some savings for a big trip I have planned this year,” an Atlanta public school teacher Veronica Karwoski said. “I’m less stressed about everyday expenses and I’m making progress toward the life I want to live.”

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Meet Five of Finovate’s Newest, Youngest Startups

Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Meet Five of Finovate’s Newest, Youngest Startups

Our New Startup Highlight, launched this spring, gives us an opportunity to showcase lesser known fintech innovators that might otherwise fly under the radar.

This week, we feature five such companies — all of whom are both recent Finovate alums as well as being founded within the past year or so. Special congratulations to Dbilia and Proptee, two startups barely a year old that nevertheless wowed our Finovate audiences this year, earning Best of Show trophies in their Finovate debuts.

FinovateEurope’s Youngest Startups

  • Founded last year and headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Dbilia leverages blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to provide a digital marketplace for collectables and memorabilia. The company won Best of Show at FinovateEurope for its demo of its marketplace, as well as its demonstration of NFT creation, automatic NFT collection storage, and NFT shop setup. Dbilia was founded by Everett Kohl, who is the company’s CEO.
  • Less than one year old, Proptee made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in March, demonstrating its commission, property stock exchange. Proptee enables investors to buy and sell shares in real estate that is listed by property owners on its platform. The technology, which helped the company earn Best of Show honors at FinovateEurope in March, combines the liquidity and transparency of the stock market with the stability of real estate investment. Proptee was co-founded by Benedek Toth (CEO) and Alexandru Rosianu (CTO) and is based in London, U.K.

Three Startups from FinovateSpring

  • An insights platform that helps financial services companies and other organizations optimize for financial health, Attune demoed its technology at FinovateSpring earlier this month. The company, founded in January 2020 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, offers firms a robust assessment tool that measures the financial health of both individuals and populations over time. The solution then leverages nationally-representative, longitudinal benchmarks to help clients understand and operationalize the results. John Thompson is President.
  • Giving community financial institutions the kind of real-time visibility into client data that larger institutions have is the mission of San Mateo, California-based Finalytics.AI. Launched in January of 2020, Finalytics.AI made its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring. At the conference, the company showed how its platform leverages machine learning dynamic segmentation, and dynamic content creation to help community-based FIs better understand and serve their customers. The technology also helps them compete with the digital prowess of the big banks and digital-only institutions. Craig McLaughlin is CEO.
  • Headquartered in Kirkland, SecureSave demonstrated its workplace savings program at FinovateSpring earlier this month. The company offers a savings app that is designed to help employees build an emergency fund easily and automatically. By partnering with employers, SecureSave makes emergency savings a “high impact new benefit” that companies can use to support the financial wellness of their workers. CEO Devin Miller and CTO Bassam Saliba co-founded the company in the fall of 2020.

New Startup Highlight: MainStreet

New Startup Highlight: MainStreet

Here in the U.S., it’s tax season. And even though the IRS has extended the filing deadline by a few weeks, it’s still a stressful time for both individuals and businesses. In an era of changing benefits, everyone is on the lookout to minimize their tax burden.

Enter MainStreet, a company founded in 2019 that helps qualify tech startups for tax credits that most accountants don’t check for. The California-based company works with startups’ accountants to check for more than 200 potential unclaimed tax credits.

MainStreet works by integrating the startups’ payroll and scanning the data on a monthly basis for potential federal, state, and local tax credits. If MainStreet finds a tax credit, the company will advance 80% of the credit amount to the startup so that they can use the funds right away instead of waiting on their tax refund. The client is responsible for repaying that amount, with no interest incurred, after they receive their credit from the government.

MainStreet does not charge a fee for this monthly service. Instead, the company keeps the remaining 20% of the startups’ tax credit amount. However, MainStreet only receives payment if it successfully finds a refund for the client.

In the event of an audit, MainStreet offers support through the auditing process. And if MainStreet makes an error with the paperwork or credit claim, the client is insured for up to $1 million.

So far, MainStreet has found more than $80 million for over 1,000 startups. The company’s clients include Rally, Newfront Insurance, LedgerX, Pave, and more.

In the long term, MainStreet plans to expand its operations beyond serving tech startups to include small businesses, as well.

MainStreet has received almost $63 million from investors including Gradient Ventures, Sound Ventures, and Signal Fire.

Photo by Liza Rusalskaya on Unsplash

Cracking the Fintech Code: Secrets to Success for Start-ups

FinovateFall welcomed over 70 start-ups to demo exciting new products and ideas, and opened the stage to pioneering thought-leaders to discuss the future of finance, technology and how the two come together to solve real world problems. We sat down with leaders of inspiring start-ups to get their insight on what the recipe for success is this often overcrowded space.

Matt Armstead, Executive Director, Founding Member, Board Member, FintechAccel gives his advice to start-ups and explores why getting a great team behind the idea is critical.

Jon Zanoff,  Managing Director, Techstars on knowing when a start-up is re ready to take a next step and join an accelerator.

Pini Yukeul,  CEO of Optimove, on how AI helps with segmentation, prediction and optimization within marketing and how start-ups and established businesses can leverage it.

Friday Fun: Top 12 U.S. Cities for Fintech Startups

Friday Fun: Top 12 U.S. Cities for Fintech Startups

Yesterday, Bank Innovations named five emerging U.S. fintech hubs (outside NYC, Silicon Valley and Boston). Its up-and-comers were: Atlanta, Austin, Lincoln, Miami and Washington DC. While Austin and Atlanta made sense, I was surprised by Miami, DC and especially Lincoln, Nebraska.

The article didn’t include a methodology, so to test their hypothesis I searched AngelList’s database of fintech and financial services startups (financial technology, financial services, payments, fin tech or insurance). Miami did in fact make the top 12, but Lincoln (7 startups) and Washington DC (9 startups) are pretty far out of the running, at least from a startup perspective. Admittedly, Bank Innovations was considering more than just startup activity.

Here’s the 10 most common U.S. homes of fintech startups outside SF and NYC:
(Note: this is by no means clean data, so consider it a proxy only; also it does not include neighboring cities such as San Jose or Brooklyn.)

HQ/Number of Startups

  1. NYC 1,367
  2. San Francisco 1,241
  3. LA 431
  4. Chicago 267
  5. Boston 246
  6. Austin 226
  7. Atlanta 161
  8. San Diego 156
  9. Palo Alto 136
  10. Seattle 116 (tie)
  11. Dallas 116 (tie)
  12. Miami 107

Source: Angel List, 18 Aug 2017

Enjoy your weekend all!

Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 

Photo credit, LA Fintech Meetup Aug 22


The 85 Fintech Graduates of Y Combinator (YC): 2005 to 2016

The 85 Fintech Graduates of Y Combinator (YC): 2005 to 2016

yc slogan

Update: See here for full-year 2016.

Y Combinator (YC) continues to be the most important incubator in the general technology space with high-flying alums such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Instacart. YC is less well known, but equally successful in the fintech vertical with Stripe and Zenefits, along with two Finovate alums, ZenPayroll and Coinbase, all in the $500+ million club (based on most recent funding).

Those big wins are all the more impressive, given the smaller universe of fintech companies incubated at YC—less than 10% of its total (see table below). YC has hatched just 85 fintech companies (see list below), most in the past 30 months.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how well the new crop of specialized fintech incubators does in attracting promising new fintech companies. Does backing from Barclays or Wells Fargo trump the halo effect of a YC investment? We’ll soon find out.


Table: YC Fintech Companies by Year

Class Total Companies # Fintech Companies % Fintech
2016 (1st half) 119 13 11%
2015 201 22 11%
2014 109 13 12%
2013 83 9 9%
2012 117 8 7%
2011 89 7 8%
2010 61 6 10%
2009 39 1 3%
2008 43 1 2%
2007 32 2 6%
2006 17 0 0%
2005 8 1 13%
Total 918 85 9.3%

Source: Y-Combinator (, Finovate analysis
(see note 1 for Fintech definition)


List: YC fintech alums by year

2016 (first half)

  • Bonsai: Invoicing and payments tool targted to freelancers
  • AlphaFlow: P2P real estate investment manager for individual investors
  • Cover: Insurance-on-demand using a smartphone camera
  • Emburse: Corporate prepaid cards that enforce spending rules
  • flexReceipts: Digital receipt platform
  • Landed: Crowdfunding platform for mortgage down payments
  • LendEDU: Student loan portal
  • MeterFeeder: Enables all parking meters to accept credit cards
  • PayStack: Online card processer in Nigeria
  • PocketSuite: Small businesses payment, invoicing, bookin and communication application
  • Stilt: Personal loans for international borrowers living in the United States
  • TrueBill: Subscription payment management for consumers
  • WorldCover: Crop insurance for the developing world



  • Abacus: Say good-bye to expense reports
  • BillForward: A highly flexible and unified billing platform; built for high growth and enterprise companies
  • BitAccess: The easiest way to buy and sell bitcoin
  • BlockScore: Real-time identity verification and due diligence
  • ClearTax; The easiest way to e-file income tax returns in India
  • Blockchain ID. A better identity
  • Shift Payments: Shift Payments is changing the way money changes hands
  • Sliced Investing: Sliced provides technology to help financial advisers deploy alternatives
  • TradeBlock: Digital currency data and analysis
  • Two Tap: Users can now order any product directly in your app with Two Tap
  • Zen99: 1099 tax help for rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, housekeepers, and more
  • Zidisha: Online microlending community
  • Zinc: Pay with with Dwolla or Bitcoin, and manage all your orders in one place



  • Airbrite (exited): Cloud-enabled platform for mobile commerce
  • Coinbase: Bitcoin wallet and exchange
  • Crowdtilt: Allows users to pool funds online
  • Eligible: Real-time eligibility checks for health insurance
  • FundersClub: Equity crowdfunding marketplace
  • LendUp: Reinventing the payday-lending industry
  • SmartAsset: Bringing full transparency to the financial decision-making process
  • ZenPayroll: Modern payroll


  • DebtEye: Automated credit-counseling solution
  • Giftrocket: Gift card that works at any location
  • GoCardless: U.K.-based service for merchants to set up interbank transfers for customers
  • Leaky: Helps consumers make better decisions about insurance
  • OrderAhead: Order from local merchants on your phone
  • TrustEgg: Simple way to save for a child’s future
  • SwipeGood: Enroll credit and debit cards to automatically round up every purchase to the nearest dollar for charity


  • CardPool (exited): Gift card exchange marketplace
  • E la Carte: Tablets for restaurant point-of-sale
  • FutureAdvisor (exited): Robo-adviser
  • Indinero: Accounting, taxes and payroll for small business
  • ReadyForZero (exited): Helping people control and reduce debt
  • Stripe: Developer-friendly way to accept payments online


  • WePay: Online payments platform


  • Tipjoy (dead): Social payments engine for digital content



  • TextPayMe (exited): SMS payment service acquired by Amazon


1. We are using a broad definition of fintech including payments, insurance, investing, etc.
2. A few YC companies are in stealth mode, so this list is not complete.

The 40 Fintech Graduates from Y Combinator (YC)

image By most measures, Y Combinator (YC) is far and away the most important incubator in the technology space. Graduating from there is like facing the job market with a resume boasting summer internships at Google, Facebook AND Goldman Sachs. You are almost guaranteed a multi-million funding.

Fintech (note 1) has been part of YC from the beginning. The first class (Summer 2005) included one fintech startup, TextPayMe, among the eight companies. TextPayMe was acquired shortly thereafter by Amazon for a rumored $3 million.

But as YC grew from 2005 to 2009, the number of fintech companies stayed at roughly 1 per year. During those five years, YC graduated 5 fintech companies out of a total of 139 (3.5%). Suddenly in 2010, the fintech number grew dramatically, average of more than 7 per year. During the past 4.5 years, there have been 35 fintech startups out of a total of 406 (8.6%) (see note 2). 

Table: YC Fintech Companies by Year

Class Total Companies # Fintech Companies % Fintech
2014 (half year) 56 5 9%
2013 83 9 9%
2012 117 8 7%
2011 89 7 8%
2010 61 6 10%
2009 39 1 3%
2008 43 1 2%
2007 32 2 6%
2006 17 0 0%
2005 8 1 13%
Total 545 40 7.4%

Source: Y-Combinator (, Finovate analysis 
(see note 1 for Fintech definition)


List of fintech YC alums by year

2014 (Winter class only)

Say goodbye to expense reports.

Digital currency data and analysis. TradeBlock’s digital currency tools and research are trusted by hundreds of thousands of traders and enthusiasts across the globe.

Two Tap
Users can now order any product directly in your app with Two Tap.

We are pioneering the first online microlending community to connect lenders and borrowers directly across international borders – overcoming previously insurmountable barriers of geography, wealth and circumstance.

Zinc is the best way to buy. Pay with with Dwolla or Bitcoin, and manage all your orders in one place.


Trade bitcoin with ease.

PayTango links the cards in your wallet to your fingerprints.

Featured investments available for funding.

Simple health insurance for small businesses.

Standard Treasury
APIs for commercial banks.

Swish is a dynamic, specialized mobile payment company that has developed a ground breaking new card reader and application which provides a complete mobile point of sale solution to any size business.

True Link Financial
We keep a watchful eye out for fraud and spending mishaps so you can spend your time doing what matters.

We aim to give everyone – regardless of wealth – the opportunity to invest in startups.

Zenefits runs your benefits, so you can run your business. Get affordable benefits for your company in minutes. Then set and forget them.


Airbrite is a cloud-enabled platform that powers mobile commerce We are the next generation of e-commerce. Our mobile-firs
t API powers modern shopping.

Your Hosted Bitcoin Wallet. Coinbase is the easiest way to get started with Bitcoin.

Crowdtilt allows users to pool funds for objectives in a simple, social, and frictionless way online.

Real Time Eligibility Checks for Health Insurance.

FundersClub is a web service that gives investors unprecedented access to investment opportunities and the tools to review and invest online with ease and speed.

LendUp is reinventing the payday lending industry

SmartAsset makes life’s biggest decisions easier by bringing full transparency to the financial decision making process.

We are creating beautiful, modern payroll.


We are an automated credit counseling solution to help customers get out of debt, a little like a “turbo tax” for those who need debt relief.

GiftRocket sells a new type of gift card that works at any location.

GoCardless is a UK-based service that allows smaller merchants to easily set up interbank transfers for customers.

Leaky helps consumers make better decisions about insurance.

OrderAhead is the easiest way to order from local merchants on your phone.

The simplest way to save for a child’s future.

SwipeGood allows users to enroll their credit or debit cards and automatically round up every purchase to the nearest dollar for charity.


Cardpool is a gift card exchange marketplace where anybody can buy, sell, or trade their new or pre-owned gift cards.

E la Carte
E la Carte develops tablets for restaurant tables so guests can order, pay and play games from their seats

FutureAdvisor was founded in 2010 on the premise that investing for your future does not have to be difficult or expensive.

Accounting, taxes & payroll. One solution. inDinero is your company’s accounting department.

ReadyForZero creates online financial software that helps people control and reduce debt.

Stripe is a simple, developer-friendly way to accept payments online.


WePay is an online payments platform for individuals, organizations, and businesses.


Tipjoy was a simple, social payments engine that allows merchants to sell digital content and features, charities to raise money for causes, and individuals to give money to one another.


Buxfer is the next-generation personal finance solution, taking money management to the web.

SocialPicks provides individual investors with a trusted online investing community where they can invest smarter together.


TextPayMe was an SMS payment service that lets you send money to other people using cell phone text messaging.


1. We are using a broad definition of fintech including payments, insurance, investments, gift cards and even a few that are ecommerce focused such as E la Carte which is an order entry and payments play for restaurants.
2. Some YC companies are in stealth mode, so this public list is not 100% complete.