Around The Space-19.jpg

PRESS RELEASE: BMO HARRIS / 1871 Innovation Program Announce Winners for Their Third Annual Mentorship Program

BMO Harris Bank and 1871 announced the three winners from the BMO Harris/1871 Innovation Program. 

BMO Mentors 

CHICAGO (October 1, 2019) -- BMO Harris Bank and 1871 announced the three winners from the BMO Harris/1871 Innovation Program. This three-month mentorship program, which launched in March 2019, is focused on mentoring startups that have created services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers, or help identify customers’ banking needs. This was the first year the program was opened to startups nationwide.

Entrepreneurs from across the country brought their cutting-edge technology and ideas forward to see if they were a good fit for BMO's ongoing focus to deliver exceptional experiences to customers across all channels, including digital. The seven finalists worked with BMO experts, had access to a working space at 1871, contended to win cash prizes and – for the first time this year – were able to pitch to venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections and funding. 

The program concluded with pitches from each startup to a panel of BMO leaders who acted as judges. The winners received $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for first, second and third place, respectively. The winners are:

  • First Place - Holberg Financial: A financial health and wellness benefit that helps employees reduce financial stress and increase productivity

    BMO Cropped
  • Second Place XSELL: A leading-edge Augmented Intelligence and digital engagement platform that helps companies effectively answer customer inquiries and make personalized recommendations

  • Third Place Manifest: Helps make 401K transfers for employees of companies seamless by using their front-facing UI


“The goal of this program is to help drive customer value and to advance BMO’s digital capabilities, and this year’s winners are further evidence of that,” said Huge McKee Head of BMO Partners, BMO Financial Group. “Expanding applications nationwide brought a new level of innovation to the program, and having the continued leadership of 1871 was critical to our success.” 

“We were thrilled to partner with BMO Harris to take the Innovation Mentorship Program nationwide this year,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. "Extraordinary innovation occurs when startups and major corporations sit on the same side of the table. The astounding pitches at the program’s close showcased how access to the right resources, mentorships, and investors provided the participating founders with all the tools they need to thrive."

About BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through nearly 600 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$830 billion (as of April 30, 2019), and more than 45,000 employees.

About 1871

1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.

Adam Arcus, Creative Director
(630) 251-0371

Topics: News

Read the 1871 Blog for news about the Chicago technology and entrepreneurship community, as well as helpful tips, guides, and insights into the startup and investment world.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

1871 On Instagram