Five “hot” startups took the stage yesterday at the Empire Startups Fintech Conference in New York – or, as they referred to it, “A Fintech Shark Tank.”
Each startup took the stage for a five-minute demonstration, followed by a Q&A with the moderator, founder of Xignite, Stephane Dubois. Here’s the breakdown of the startups.
San Francisco-based RealtyShares calls itself the LendingClub for Real Estate. The company provides a real estate investing marketplace for accredited investors, through which they can purchase shares in residential and commercial real estate properties. The entire process is done online, with a 24/7 monitoring available. Launched in 2013, RealtyShares has raised $32 million in venture capital from USV, Menlo Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. Investments start from $5,000.
Think of SigFig as a roboadvisor for your investment portfolio. The platform allows users to create a custom portfolio, make appointments with a personal advisor online, and track all investments in one place. Users can also pay to have their account managed online, and letting computers automatically diversify and optimize portfolios. The five-year-old company raised $16 million in two rounds of funding. “90% of people out there have investment portfolios that are unhealthy — that’s tens and trillions of dollars just in the U.S. when people are not optimizing in terms of how they manage their money,” said co-founder Mike Sha. “There are other roboadvisors in the space that pursue direct-to-consumer, but with our partnership model, with partners we’ll announce later this year, we’ll have access and be able to help a lot more consumers, than trying to go alone.”
This probably was the most engaging demo in the bunch. Remesh applies machine learning – artificial intelligence, if you like – to engage a group of people in real-time conversations. The platform, they claim, will replace polls. “Beyond inline conversation, the group’s opinion on every response is collected, analyzed, and presented in real time,” according to the company website. To demonstrate the platform, co-founder Andrew Konya asked the audience “What is the Future if FinTech?” The platform then collected the answers, and shot it back to the participants in a series of “A” “B” choices. The final tally was broken down by popularity, demographics, age, etc. (Mobile Banking and Automation of Everything were the top answers).
Enigma – a data technology company – provides access to aggregated collection of public data, together with data analytics tools. Users can search and analyze data through Enigma’s interface, which contains datasets from over 100,000 sources – which makes for billions of public records, the company said – from SEC filings to asset ownership. The dataset is free on a rate-limited basis. The New York-based startup raised $34.6 million in four rounds of funding. “It’s a new way of thinking about data and sharing it for a purpose of solving a problem in a business,” said co-founder Hicham Oudghiri. “That’s what keeps us going. We never go to a company and say ‘Put all your data in one place,’ we go to them and say ‘Let’s solve this problem, and create a workflow from your data.'”
VTS – another real estate-focused startup – allows brokers, owners, and investors to collaborate real time to lease real estate space. The platform allows to manage the entire deal process online, from any device. The company claims it manages more than 1 billion square feet of space, with 4,500 buildings. The company raised $34 million in funding to date. The team is “under 40 years old,” according to the founder Nick Romito, with 140 people employed. “Our clients were all companies that two years ago weren’t using a software, they were using paper, so this was a natural transition for them,” he said.
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