Plaid accelerator announces inaugural cohort of fintech startups

Plaid, the fintech giant, has announced the inaugural cohort of startups in its new accelerator program, FinRise.

The equity-free and capital-free program has chosen five early-stage fintech startups out of 100 applications to join its cohort, working on issues central to the financial services industry such as simplifying payments and access to credit. The accelerator, announced two months ago, is explicitly focused on backing underrepresented founders in tech.

Last week, The Information reported that Plaid is nearing a new financing deal that would value the company at between $10 billion to $15 billion. Beyond a high valuation, Plaid sports a key characteristic that positions it well to help early-stage startups: it has gone through regulatory hurdles. Months ago, Plaid announced it would not merge with Visa in what would have been a $5.3 billion dollar acquisition. This event, as well as advice on how privat fintech startups can deal with policy issues, will be part of FinRise programming.

While participants don’t get funding, FinRise has collated a number of “capital access partners” which basically means investors who are committed to meeting with these companies and potentially writing a check. This network includes Accion, Acrew, Amex Ventures, Flourish, Harlem Capital, Kapor, Matrix, Village Capital, Visible Hands, and First Round.

Here’s a look at the five startups:

  • Global Data Consortium is building a process for global digital identity verification for businesses. Co-founded by Bill Spruill and Charles Gaddy, the startup is building a data supplier network of more than 200 sources to help build a standard of processes around digital identity verification. “As we continue to scale our platform it’s important to make sure our technical infrastructure continues to be enterprise-ready. Plaid’s engineering expertise and knowledge will prove useful to our team to help us plan and execute around our next level of service support architecture,” Spruill told TechCrunch.
  • Guidefi is a marketplace focused on connecting communities of color to culturally-savvy financial advisors. Led by Charlene Fadirepo, the financial wellness startup doesn’t charge for matches to advisors, but only begins pricing once services begini.
  • OfColor wants to be the go-to enterprise wellness platform for employees of color. Founder Yemi Rose tells TechCrunch that “a lot of companies we encounter generally pride themselves on being colorblind in their HR benefit practices, in spite of outcomes that show a different approach is needed…our biggest hurdle is education.” The startup focuses on features like a personalized financial manager as well as loans that allow employees to maximize their 401(k) contribution.
  • Walnut is a point-of-sale lending platform that wants to make healthcare more affordable for patients. Roshan Patel, founder and CEO of the startup, says that its biggest competitor is PrimaHealth Credit, which focuses on elective care. “Walnut is care-agnostic: no matter where you are in the healthcare system, you can use Walnut to break up your bill into an installment plan that works for you. That can be at the dentist or cosmetic surgery practice, but it can also be in the emergency room or at your primary care physician,” he said.
  • Zeta wants to build a better joint-bank experience for the modern couple. First covered by TechCrunch in February, Zeta has already raised $1.5 million in venture funding to create a platform that makes it easier to join accounts and split purchases. “In some ways, we see ourselves as part of a replacement for Venmo,” CEO and co-founder Aditi Shekar said. “We saw couples Venmoing back and forth to each other sometimes six times a day…we want to take over your money chores.” While Zeta is entering the market as a tool for couples, Shekar sees the startup’s moonshot as being the go-to operational account for any modern household.

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