Plaid, a financial services company based in San Francisco, has launched a nine-month incubator for early-stage fintech founders from underrepresented backgrounds. The project is spearheaded by Plaid Growth Manager Neil Malone and Design Manager Bhargavi Kamakshivalli.
The accelerator is explicitly looking at startups that are led by black, indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC). It was inspired by an internal hackathon amid Black Lives Matter protests last year.
According to Malone, the incubator aims to accept three to five post-seed and pre series B tech startup with a product in the beta stage. Startups, in order to apply, need to have a minimum of two employees and a founder to join the program. Definitely, the startup has to operate in the fintech space. However, it has to specifically have a part of its business focused on consumer business finance data.
The last prerequisite, having a part of business focused on consumer business finance data, fits exactly with what Plaid does. Plaid is a software startup that acts as a connective tissue between consumer bank accounts and fintech apps. Therefore, it feels like FinRise is a creative extension of those integrations, but one more focused on helping founders start companies than just gaining new customers.
The startups that will be accepted will get mentorship from Plaid leaders, a dedicated account manager who would help with product insights, and a network founders can go for advice on the bootcamp sessions.
FinRise, for now, is not taking any equity or giving capital itself to the startups. For underrepresented founders, the hurdle typically is not access to mentorship but access to funding. FinRise did commit to introducing the accepted startups to a network of VC firms and accelerators with checkbooks.
Plaid could also consider investing in any of the startups, taking a classic corporate venture capital approach. Malone, when asked if it could happen (Plaid investing in the selected startups), said it was not part of their plan yet, but they are excited to pilot the program and see how it goes.
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