Nova Credit took top honors at the PitchIt 2017 competition on Tuesday, a global fintech faceoff sponsored by LendIt and 500 Startups.
Nova competed alongside seven other startups tackling the underbanked in Africa, overdrafts, commercial real estate lending, finance for freelancers, compliance, and blockchain-based lending.
Nova Credit targets super-prime borrowers from abroad. Co-founder and COO Nicky Goulimis opened her pitch with a personal story. The native Brit noted that her well established credit history in the UK (student loan, credit card, etc) was meaningless to lenders and landlords in the U.S. “I was rejected for a credit card,” the Stanford University MBA recalls. And when it came time to rent an apartment, the landlord required a 10-month deposit. “This is not a personal issue. It’s an industry issue.”
Co-founder and CEO Misha Esipov, who emigrated from Russia with his family in the 1990s, says Nova was created to create a global system for finance identity. They named it the Nova Credit Passport. Goulimis notes the US is home to 42 million immigrants, of which seven million would qualify as super prime, creating a $100 billion lending opportunity. Nova aims to take advantage of this gap by collecting credit data to provide a universal credit report to vendors.
The final eight competing at the two-day LendIt Conference were culled from a pool of 300 applicants, said Mike Sigal, partner at 500 Startups. The winners will receive mentoring and exposure to major institutions. The judges for the finals were: David Teten, partner, ffVenture Capital; Joel Monegro, analyst, Union Square Ventures; Kareem Zaki, investor at Thrive Capital; Ben Malka, partner, F-Prime Capital.
These are the other competitors offered their visions of a better financial world:
- Aella Credit, mobile-first solution to provide credit in Africa. Aella uses nontraditional data from human resources to reach the 425 million underserved individuals in Africa who can’t get a loan — a $10 billion opportunity.
- Alloy, attacking compliance costs and minimizing errors by integrating disjointed information sources onto one platform to improve KYC and AML.
- Float, an alt lender helping bank account holders avoid costly overdraft fees and helping young adults establish a credit history. It’s an open line of credit that users can tap when in danger of overdrafting. The loan is payable in full the next month with a flat fee of 5%.
- Qwil, factor financing for the 300 million freelancers who need to smooth out cash flows. Provides access to earnings as soon as they are earned.
- Real Atom, a commercial real estate loan marketplace that in the five months since launch has assembled 200+ lenders, $350 million loan requests, and $68 million in closed transactions.
- StackSource, “a mission control room” for commercial real estate loans, which launched at LendIt, and provides a SaaS platform for brokers.
- We Trust, a credit source for lending circles that deploys blockchain technology, enabling the small business people in lending circles to scale and take advantage of nearby trust groups. Smart contracts use Ethereum and are open source.