The inaugural cohort of the Holt FinTech Accelerator got underway bright and early Monday morning at their new offices in downtown Montreal. After a months long search that took them to the far corners of the earth, the partners at Holt have cut more than 400 applications down to just 13 startups who will be participating in this cohort.
“It’s taken about 3 months. We interviewed about 80 of the applicants and invited 34 of them in for selection day and now we have 13 taking part” said Managing Partner Jan Christopher Arp. “We travelled around the world, maybe 15 conferences in places like Amsterdam, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and all across Canada… speaking to as many FinTech startups as possible. Hundreds and hundreds of meetings.”
That hard work shows when looking the makeup of the cohort, with most companies from outside Quebec, and many from outside Canada including places as far away as Bogota, Columbia and London, England. (See below for a list of participating startups)
Arp says rather than place of origin, what they were looking for when approaching startups was a good team with entrepreneurial experience and traction, who have they been validated by customers and so on. From a technical perspective, they were also looking for startups that have AI, and ideally companies with a product, or who are close to having one. Lastly, fit was also a key selection criterion as Holt has brought in a team of more than 100 advisors from banks, VCs and other institutions… the idea being that those advisors can guide the selected startups through the process of developing products and services that financial institutions want, need and will pay for.
“All week we have workshops in the morning, for instance today Montreal International will be coming in to explain a little bit about working in Montreal. After that we’ll be working on OKR (Objectives & Key Results) a workshop being led by Real Ventures” says Arp. Later in the week they’ll be offering the cohort workshops on product, CX and UX, Quebec’s regulatory environment and leveraging AI within products.
A by-product of all this is the relocation of businesses to Montreal, which may give an additional boost to the city’s startup ecosystem, particularly as pertains to Fintech. Thus adding to the pool of top-talent available in the city and increasing the number of seed-ready FinTechs in Montreal.
The companies selected cover a diverse set of verticals including commercial and business lending, crypto, insurtech and more. “We picked them all because they’re great companies. All these companies should and will succeed” says Brendan Holt Dunn, also a Managing Partner at Holt, who added “When we originally started this, we thought we’d be getting pure startups. All of these company have revenue, and many of them are actually profitable. So they’re a lot later stage than we had anticipated, which goes to show you the value of what Holt is bringing to them”.
The final dollar amount that Holt will be putting into these startups won’t be known for some time. A significant amount of money has already been invested both in cash and in-kind services. However, at the end of the program, the companies participating in the cohort will be doing a raise. It is at that point that Holt Accelerator has the right to invest as much as they want. Therefore, the total amount invested won’t be decided until then.
The cohort is 12 weeks long, ending on December 6, when there will be a demo day during which the lucky 13 companies will get the chance to show their stuff!
- Commercial Passport provides global digital KYC solutions, helping financial institutions reduce the time to on-board clients by automating beneficial ownership analysis and client document maintenance. Based in Toronto, Canada, Commercial Passport’s Universal KYC Solution is a paradigm shift in KYC collection, providing senders and receivers a clear chain of custody for KYC documents through blockchain technology.
- Consilium Crypto provides funds, family offices and exchanges with Actionable Insights for the cryptoasset markets using custom indices, market data, news and alternative data. Headquartered in Toronto, ON, with an office in Montreal, QC, Canada, Consilium Crypto provides companies with a data-driven edge from Billions of data points, covering over 90% of global trade volume in cryptoassets.
- CreditSCRIPT is based in London, U.K. and provides an investment platform that combines a proprietary streaming technology to bring together digital lending opportunities in consumer, SME and real estate into a single dashboard and exchange. CreditSCRIPT’s solution is fully regulated and provides secure, integrated order management, portfolio management, valuation and custody solutions for professional investors.
- Curu has as a mission to redefine finance and credit from being a crippling and abusive system to one that empowers individuals. Based in Charlotte, NC, USA, Curu automates credit improvement by analyzing users’ finances and making actionable suggestions on factors such as payments, balance increases and credit report errors. The program gamifies the experience and rewards users with badges and Curu Credits for good credit practices.
- FundSeeder is a marketplace for new money managers. It finds the world’s top undiscovered trading talent and connects them with investors directly or via a packaged fund/index product. Headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, United States, this platform makes it possible to create and share new active management products to institutional investors through FundSeeder investments.
- Ivy Lender is an online lending marketplace connecting small, medium and large corporate businesses with lenders based on their credit profiles and lending needs. Ivy Lender is unique to the FinTech space because it also offers payment processing and foreign currency solutions to their clients in the United States and Canada. Ivy Lender is located in Plantation, FL, U.S.A.
- KapitalWise helps customers better their financial health with different tools. From financial wellness scoring to cash flow forecasting and smart goal setting, this AI platform helps personal bankers to engage with their clients by helping them to achieve financial success. Based in New York, NY, U.S.A., KapitalWise uses existing customer data, external sources and its own proprietary platform to deepen relationships with each unique customer.
- Liquidity Marketplace LTD (LMX) is transforming liquidity markets for Fortune 1000 companies and banks around the world by providing a venue in which they can borrow and lend directly with each other with no intermediation. Based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, LMX, also white labels, its technology both to banks and other peer-to-peer markets earning brokerage fees on its marketplace and subscription fees for its SaaS.
- LoanConnect was launched in 2016 and is Canada’s leading personal loan search platform through which consumers can search over 20 lenders for the best rates and terms. The company wants to provide game-changing, on-the-spot financing through a choice of lenders for all consumers, regardless of their credit rating, whenever and wherever they need it.
- Owl.co offers compliant virtual agents that deal with sensitive data to complete sales and improve customer service for various products of banks and insurers. Owl provides a proprietary zero-knowledge platform with unique customer profiling capabilities allowing highly regulated institutions to offer personalized solutions to their customers without compromising security or integrity of data. From Vancouver, BC, Canada, Owl went live less than 6 months ago and has already generated over $1 million in revenue with some of the world’s largest Enterprise as clients.
- PrestaGente, a company from Bogota, Colombia, solves the issue of safeguarding debt contracts by taking charge of physical and digital processes using Blockchain. When a debt transaction is done, the unity of digital data and physical presence is lost, generating information and trust gap for the entire financial system. PrestaGente offers a Blockchain service that solves the credibility and information problem, and improves upon the current custodian system.
- QuantumSense is an artificial intelligence company founded in Canada and successful graduate of the machine learning track of the CDL program in Toronto. It provides a top semantic search that works on the sentence level to give a more accurate and faster search for ideas or text passages in documents or archives of any business smoothing the workflow. Together with the sentiment analysis this can also be used for fundamental analysis in finance and social media to analyze unstructured data and to make better predictions in real-time.
- Smart Pay presents itself as the missing link between banks and retailers for “card present” Mobile Instant Checkout. Created in Montreal in 2013, Smart Pay helps retailers and banks deploy a checkout solution within their own app and website to make it possible for customers to pay using their smartphones’ biometric ID, without needing to register or provide any information with secured “card present” transactions. Through their service, they directly addresses the new European payment regulation – PSD2 – through the Open Banking directive.