Financial Inclusion Party – Top 7 startups to follow

#ThriveForFintech

Appa, have you finished saying “this is good about you, this is bad about you” is how my 5 year old enquires about my VC job. I am sure there will soon be a time when I explain to her that its not quite as binary as that.

The next generation of entrepreneurs really have it in them to rebuild the world, and they really care about and believe in what I often call Inclusive Capitalism. I love my job because it gives me a sneak peek into the future, and gives me an opportunity to be part of the transition.

The journey of the past three months with Crowdcube, Deloitte and Linklaters through the Thrive for Fintech programme has been a great learning experience. The last couple of months have made me love my job even more!!

To quickly put the programme in numbers – we (Green Shores Capital), set out to invest upto £500k in Financial Inclusion firms, spread over 2-3 firms, in partnership with Crowdcube, Deloitte and Linklaters. The programme was announced in early December.

More than 70 companies wanted to apply for the programme. Just over 50 applications were accepted. Green Shores team then spent time with these firms to choose 7 for the final pitching event. The final pitch happened yesterday. It was amazing to see a diverse mix of Entrepreneurs, from London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Israel and Haiti come together.

It felt more like a celebration of Financial Inclusion, than a pitching event

These were the firms and their themes

Stork Card – A firm focused on young parents, who have just stepped into the expensive yet rewarding journey of parenting. They provide proactive financial services, and other childcare benefits through data analytics. Their go-to-market is interesting, as they partner with corporates to provide Stork card services to their employees. This helps employee retention, especially through the child birth and early years of parenting. I just could relate to their story straight away!!

Tickr – A startup that offers impact investing through a robo advisory angle. Impact investing has been largely an institutional play all these years. Tickr have two asset managers who have come together to bring institutional quality investment opportunities to the retail audience. They also narrate the impact that investors have made through their investments in different parts of the world.

Tumelo – Tumelo are also a robo advisor for retail investors to access impact investing. They take a different approach to their business model, where they call the robo advisory capability as just a means to an end. Through partnerships they have cracked with top NGOs and charities, they also want to allow retail investors to have a voice in the board room of top corporates.

I must stress this, and I don’t intend to give any team special treatment here.

It was so much fun talking to Tom @ Tickr and Georgia @ Tumelo. Both are trying to solve similar problems, but have a whole different approach to it. It is going to be super exciting to follow them through the next few months and years.

Confirmu Confirmu use psycho analytics and AI to the credit scoring world. They have a proprietary chat system, which is part of their customer onboarding process. When an individual, who doesn’t have a credit file wants to borrow, often the request is rejected because the lender doesn’t have a clue on whether he/she intends to repay. The chat process includes questions, pictures, emojis and voice recognition in 5 languages, and gives a score on the borrower, that will help the lender make a decision. Special thanks to Yatir @ Confirmu for traveling from Israel to meet us and for the event.

ITI Group : ITI Group was founded by a group of bankers who feel there weren’t a good reliable retirement plan. They also feel strongly about onboarding people into the habit of saving very early in their lives. They have a debit card solution, which will yet again be a means to an end, and a clever go-to-market, with some exclusive partnerships to onboard customers. However, the retirements plan they offer is differentiated from the crowd, and when the two capabilities (retail end and retirement fund end) are put together, they are a compelling use case.

Money DashboardMoney Dashboard to most UK Fintech followers need no introduction. They are the top UK personal finance management app, and they have won awards and accolades for their work in this space many times. So whats so special? Closing in on 100,000 customers onboarded, data richness, and a very decent annual recurring revenue. I am not going to say more here, I will let you do your research.

AgriledgerLast but in no way the least, Agriledger are providing economic identities, and supply chain finance options to Farmers across the world, using Distributed Ledger technology. Through their solution, they bring transparency to the food supply chain, and in the process making sure, the farmer is the owner of the food, and the end consumer buying the product has complete transparency of the journey and quality of the food. They have already got a contract with the World Bank to deploy the product in Haiti.

With so many exciting and varied use cases, we now have the enviable job of getting to the decision of where to invest. Watch this space!!


Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Venture Capital investor at Green Shores Capital focusing on Inclusion and a podcast host.

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