Five women-led startups selected from nationwide applicants
J Blaszczykiewicz, Director of Marketing
BMO Harris Bank:
Kathleen Szot, Corporate Communications Manager, BMO Harris Bank
CHICAGO (JUNE 24, 2020) – 1871 and BMO Harris Bank are proud to announce the five participating companies selected to join WMN•FINtech on June 15, 2020. WMN•FINtech is the latest evolution of the BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program, and the first iteration to be dedicated solely to women-led startups in fintech.
Of the startups that applied to the program, 10 semifinalists were invited to partake in a selection day hosted by 1871 and BMO on May 20, 2020. Those chosen to attend were called to give a pitch and interview amongst a set of judges in hopes to become one of the 5 finalists accepted to the program.
"We were very excited to have the opportunity to meet so many female founders solving FinTech problems," said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “This program brings cutting-edge technology and products forward with undeniable energy and access, and we believe through this program all five participants will exceed their own expectations on growth and impact.”
Ben Schack, Head of Digital Partnerships for BMO Harris Bank, added, “When the people leading companies, designing products and developing solutions represent a diverse population, better, more inclusive customer experiences result. The companies that applied for the WMN•FINtech program reinforced that idea - reflecting consideration of those with special needs, lower income consumers, the elderly and more. By offering our mentorship and support through the program, we hope to help the founders continue to succeed and inspire more women representation in the fintech sector.”
With much excitement and deliberation, the selection committee from 1871 and BMO proudly invited the following five women-led companies to participate in the first cohort of WMN•FINtech:
DelShan, Inc. by AtkCo is the go-to finance, employee safety and human resources partner based out of Chicago that improves and develops best practices through the implementation of automated operational procedures and employee workflow.
- Shayna Atkins - Founder & Senior Product Manager
- Delmar Johnson - President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer
Working as a trustee, or seamlessly with third-party trustees and investment managers, Hope Trust enables families and professionals to provide holistic financial planning, case management, and fiduciary services, such as managed distributions and government benefits navigation. Hope Trust is headquartered in Eatontown, NJ.
- Daria Placitella - Founder & CEO
- Amanda Lukof - Assistant General Counsel
Plinqit by HTMA is a brandable, mobile-first platform that is elegant and highly powerful at the same time. Unlike any other savings app on the market, its patent-pending Build Skills™ pays users for engaging with content, creating higher user engagement for financial institutions and improved financial literacy for users with a reward. Created by Millennials for Millennials, Plinqit helps financial institutions connect with this important demographic in a meaningful, relevant way. The app, which is based out of Ann Arbor, has successfully helped users save over $1 million since launching last year.
- Kathleen Craig - Founder & CEO
- Raquel Hart - Administration Manager
- Brooke McArthur - Business Development
Pocketnest, headquartered in Detroit, provides comprehensive financial planning to GenX and Millennials through a white label of our software to financial institutions like banks, credit unions, advisors and retirement plan sponsors. Under their own brand, a financial institution can take their customers through step by step guidance. Users end up with a customized to-do list consisting of actionable recommendations, education and tasks. Pocketnest’s customers, the financial institutions, benefit from efficiently knowing who their customers are and what financial solutions are right for them.
- Jessica Willis - Founder & CEO
- Chris Wascha - CTO
- Ashleigh Craven - CMO
The Wealth Factory, based in Washington, D.C., designs WealthyLife Financial Literacy education technology games, curriculum, and fintech products that walk users from birth to retirement in 12 interactive modules to exceed the personal finance common core standards. Similar to Candy Crush, our first app, CreditStacker, allows users to swap credit pieces to pay debt, achieve a high credit score, and learn from the multiple choice questions. Named the best financial literacy company in the country by the White House, Department of Education, and JP Morgan Chase our app climbed to #1 education app in 14 countries on Apple, top 5 in 40 countries, and has been inducted into the top 50 apps department at Google.
- Angel Rich - Founder & CEO
- Yusuf Henriques - Chief Strategy Officer
All of the WMN•FINtech participants have access to 1871’s “PYROS” initiative, a 13-week series of workshops, seminars and one-to-one mentoring built to help founders gain and grow customers and investor traction. PYROS offers WMN•FINtech participants a path to scale a financial technology or service business.
The selection day judges included:
- Rachael Feuerborn, VP of Member Experience at 1871
- Stephanie Miller, VP of Corporate Innovation at 1871
- Ben Schack, Head of US Digital Partnerships, BMO Harris Bank
- Hugh McKee, Head, BMO Partners
- Leslie Anderson, Global Head Enterprise Technology Employee Experience, BMO Financial Group
- Vlatka Puljic, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Women in Business Initiative, BMO Harris Bank
- Brianna Elsass, Managing Director, Head of Digital (US)
- Sean D’Esposito, Vice President Personal & Small Business Banking
- Sehr Saghir, Managing Director - Intelligent Process Automation
- Brandie Rae Kadota, National Director, Strategic Initiatives
WMN•FINtech is designed for startups that create services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers or help identify customer needs. WMN•FINtech provides selected startups with:
- A three-month mentoring program with guidance from industry experts at BMO Harris Bank
- A four-month membership to 1871, the number one private business incubator in the world
- Curriculum focused on teaching enterprise sales, vendor management, information security and risk and regulatory requirements
- The opportunity to pitch venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections and potential for funding
To be eligible, the startups must have a woman founder or co-founder and be based in the U.S. The program includes a pitch day designed for startups to gather feedback from and network with BMO senior executives. Participants may also have a potential future opportunity to pilot their products with BMO.
ABOUT BMO HARRIS BANK
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 500 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$880 billion, as of January 31, 2020.
1871 is Chicago’s technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support founders, growth-scalers, and innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups, ~400+ growth-stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 650 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 11,000 jobs, and have raised more than $1.65 billion in follow-on capital.