In April 2020, BMO Harris Bank and 1871 announced a nationwide call for women entrepreneurs to apply for WMN•FINtech, a mentoring program for women-led startups. We are now proud to announce the five participating companies selected to join WMN•FINtech on June 15, 2020.
Of the startups that applied to the program, ten semifinalists were invited to a selection day hosted by 1871 and BMO. Those chosen to attend were called to give a pitch and interview to a set of judges, in hopes of becoming one of the five 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 safet, and human resources partner 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.
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 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.
The Wealth Factory 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, their 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 and Department of Education, their app climbed to the #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
Congratulations to these five women-led companies!
Read more about our work with 1871 and women in fintech.
Read more about diversity and inclusion at BMO.
Read more about BMO for Women.
Written by Ishita Walia, Corporate Communication Manager in Chicago, IL. Ishita has been a part of the communications team at BMO for two years and enjoys traveling and cooking in her spare time.