Benzinga Hosts Fintech's Future With Venture Firm Village Capital


Over the course of last week Benzinga’s downtown Detroit newsroom played host to entrepreneurial incubator Village Capital’s 2017 Fintech Program.

The event, which lasted from June 6-9, included financial technology startups from across the U.S. covering applications and services focused on everything from personal savings options and business loans to e-commerce and money transfer solutions.

Present And Future Fintech Contenders

Village Capital has a long history of providing mentorship, guidance and funding to over 500 startups from across the agriculture, education, energy, health and financial sectors.

Among the startups that prospered through Village Capital’s guidance is the free digital portfolio management service WiseBanyan. That name should sound familiar to Benzinga readers, as WiseBanyan was a nominee for best roboadvisor in this year’s Benzinga Global Fintech Awards.

The Detroit Fintech workshop at the Benzinga newsroom was the first in a three-part program where startups can cooperatively refine their business models to overcome common financial and organizational chokepoints that many startups experience in expanding their scope and services.

David Bergendahl, founder of liability insurance provider Hugo Insurance, was among the participants in this year’s round of workshops.

“The team at Village Capital have been great,” Bergendahl said of the program’s kickoff. “They've developed a very distinctive process that pushes you to think through other founders' businesses, helping you uncover ways to better serve your own customers. The mentorship opportunities they've assembled are fantastic.”

Peer-Reviewed Model

Through Village Capital’s model of professional guidance and peer-reviewed critique, the startups aid each other toward a thoroughly vetted business model and, ultimately, rank each other’s funding proposals based on investment-readiness. The top two companies at the end of the workshop then each receive a portion of $100,000 in seed funding as well as various business support services.

Cat Berman and Yuliya Tarasava, the co-founders of the personal savings solution CNote, were effusive in their enthusiasm for the program process and the caliber of support they had experienced during the incubator.

The two reached out to Benzinga about the experience, saying: “It has been nothing but good. We're impressed by the commitment of the Village Capital team to make each company a success, by providing tools and frameworks to think through different parts of your business, connecting to mentors with the relevant expertise or finding the right partner in the space.”

Fintech Thriving In Motown

Detroit was selected for the first round of the three-part program series dues to the city’s reputation as a premiere destination for financial technology leadership. As such, the attending startup executives received mentorship from local advisors like Jacob Cohen of Detroit Venture Partners and support from national sponsor and event co-organizer PayPal Holding Inc PYPL.

Blake Stanfill, co-founder of the public project funding company LendStand, recognized the unique ecosystem of the city and, like a true entrepreneur, keyed in on the opportunity it presented for young companies —specifically his own.

"We are thrilled to be in Detroit with the amazing Village Capital 2017 FinTech Program. We founded LendStand to support exactly the type of small businesses that are working to revitalize this city," Stanfill said. "It is inspiring to imagine what is possible when working capital is available for public projects."

The second round of Village Capital’s Fintech Program begins July 18 in New York City for another four days of refinement before concluding with the final workshop in San Francisco Sept. 5-8.

Check back later in the week to learn more about the gathering and click here to see Benzinga's interview with the CEO of Fintech startup Student Loan Genius, an alumnus of the Village Capital Fintech Program.

Related Links:

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