A pitch night event on the USF St. Petersburg campus showcased the businesses and financial technology (fintech) solutions being developed by 16 high-growth startups from around the world.
More than 150 people attended the event on June 29, including the CEOs of the fintech startups and community members including St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. During the pitch event, which concluded the inaugural FinTech|X Accelerator program, each company gave a 4-minute pitch explaining a particular problem in the world of finance. The pitches included the financial technology solution their company had developed, such as reducing and offsetting college debt through everyday behaviors and providing greater access to capital for women in e-commerce, as well as financial projections of where the startups could be in a couple of years based on current growth and investment.
The FinTech|X Accelerator, a partnership between Tampa Bay Wave and the USF Muma College of Business, is designed to assist high-potential startups in the fintech industry through mentoring, pitch coaching and investor introductions. The overall goal of the three-month Accelerator is to transition startups into sustainable, scalable and profitable businesses.
"The inaugural FinTech|X cohort was a tremendous success," said Richard Munassi, the Accelerator’s managing director with Tampa Bay Wave. "From investor relations and customer engagement to revenue growth, the 16 companies are moving quickly. During this 90-day program, their company growth includes six to seven-figure investment commitments and partnerships with major international financial institutions, like VISA, Experian and JP Morgan Chase."
The 16 startups selected for the 2022 cohort were geographically diverse, with 15 companies headquartered outside of Florida, including five from outside the U.S. Three were led by women entrepreneurs, and there was significant representation from military veterans, LBGTQ+ and minority founders.
"It can be challenging to recruit for first-year programs, yet this cohort is incredibly strong. It includes many serial entrepreneurs and PhDs from prestigious schools like Harvard, Cornell and Notre Dame. We also have companies that have already established partnerships with recognizable brands like DoorDash, Freddie Mac and PayPal. But that's not even the full list. Now that we've seen their progress over the last 90 days, we're excited to help them continue to reach even greater success in the months to come," said Linda Olson, founder and president/CEO of Tampa Bay Wave.
"Over the past few months, we enjoyed working with these energetic entrepreneurs. All showed qualities and eagerness to succeed as they went through the Accelerator journey. The cohort appreciated the support and hospitality they received at the USF St. Petersburg campus and enjoyed visiting the St. Petersburg area," said Gary Patterson, dean of the Kate Tiedeman School of Business and Finance.
The Accelerator program showcases USF's strategic entry into fintech, which includes establishing a new FinTech Center on the St. Petersburg campus. Ultimately, the Accelerator seeks to advance the reputation of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay region as an innovative fintech hub.
"We are proud of our inaugural cohort of fintech founders who successfully advanced through the Fintech|X Accelerator program. Positioning the accelerator process on the USF campus provides valuable educational and entrepreneurial insights and an opportunity to showcase the unparalleled innovation and business ecosystems in the Tampa Bay region," said Michael Wiemer, director of the FinTech Center.
While some of the fintech startups are in the early revenue stages, others are generating more than $1 million in annual recurring revenue. The cohort has collectively raised over $15 million in early-stage financing from top-tier venture capital firms, and nearly all are currently raising between Seed and Series A funding.
The companies that participated in the inaugural Accelerator cohort included:
CashQ is an embedded cross-border payment platform creating a new generation of cross-border infrastructure by enabling international real-time payments with only card credentials or phone numbers.
College Cash is a preemptive debt reduction platform that utilizes everyday behavior to offset and reduce debt. Users can start as early as high school, earning money through everyday behavior that accumulates to offset future debt. CEO: Demetrius Curry, Location: Fort Worth, TX
DUKAPAQ is an African-focused fintech platform fueled by a community-wide rewards program. We are re-imagining a better digital marketplace & mobile PoS experience for merchants across Africa.
Element Fi is the first multi-dimensional all-in-ONE stable coin hub for decentralized finance. The platform for capital markets enables a variety of financial needs all in one place.
FINBOA develops and provides SaaS-based process automation software to streamline and digitize regulatory compliance processing for banks and credit unions.
Homey is for all home buyers and sellers who are fed up with the arduous conveyancing process. The digital platform allows you to complete conveyancing faster, with more certainty and ease.
inbanx is a complete spend management solution for small and middle-market businesses, which will revolutionize the way businesses spend and the credit they have access to.
myEGO delivers the next generation of digital identity: Decentralized & SSI. The company delivers a solution where you can store & share your verified credentials with different partners.
Online Application is a b2b SaaS specializing in 'one-touch accelerated mobile mortgages,' which makes delivering mortgages and life insurance easier, faster and better for everybody involved in the process. It's used by lenders, advisors and brokers.
Paperstack provides access to capital, financial insights, and community - tailored specifically for women in e-commerce. We support sellers on platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Etsy, and WooCommerce by bridging the funding gap for overlooked founders.
RABEH is a crowdfunding platform with virtual Accelerator built-in features, including a share equity marketplace.
RiskSmith provides industrial-grade portfolio design tools for retail investors to help them perform better in the market with lower risk.
Sole Capital provides liquidity to the culture at scale, starting with sneakers.
SueApp is an intuitive legal tech solution for small claims filing. By harnessing technology and leveraging public data to improve the current filing process, SueApp makes filing small claims both efficient & accessible, achieving effective personal and social justice for all.
VIVA Finance strives to be the go-to lending platform for the overlooked consumer. VIVA has built a mobile-first lending product that offers loans based primarily on employment information and is powered by a proprietary payments infrastructure that enables payments directly through payroll.
The second cohort for the FinTech|X Accelerator will return to the USF St. Petersburg campus for the next session. Exact dates and details are still being determined. To learn more about the 2022 FinTech|X Accelerator program, visit: https://www.tampabaywave.org/fintech/