ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Four financial services startups from across the globe comprise the first class of SixThirty, the new St. Louis-based financial tech start-up accelerator program.
Square co-founder Jim McKelvey is behind SixThirty, and many of the companies which applied say his involvement was what most excited them about the program.
SixThirty gives $100,000 to four financial-service startups each fall and spring, to help them grow and gain their footing in the national marketplace.
“Small companies can have a great idea, a great team, but they can’t get their product to the market without access to the rails. Those rails are usually controlled by banks, insurance companies, credit card networks,” McKelvey told KMOX at the announcement on Wednesday.
He said a major benefit of the program is that the start-ups involved get access to the large number of financial companies based in St. Louis, including Wells Fargo Advisors, Edward Jones, Stifel, and CitiMortgage.
Financial technology companies in the early stages of funding and development were invited to apply for four slots in the accelerator program, which last 16-week beginning Sunday at the T-REx incubator in downtown St. Louis.
The companies that were selected are:
• Hedgeable, a next generation Vanguard, that provides low-cost, risk-managed investment products in response to the financial crisis. Led by Matthew Kane and Michael Kane, the company is based in New York.
• MiiCard, a Digital Identity Verification service that prove ‘you are who you say you are’ entirely online. The company touts that the process only takes about five to ten minutes. Led by James Varga and is based in Scotland.
• Upside, Uses innovative financial science and beautiful UI to help affluent young professionals navigate investments. Led by Juney Ham and Tom Kimberly, the company is based in San Francisco.
• XYverify, a mobile authentication company that enables consumers, merchants and financial institutions to reduce costs and prevent fraud. Led by Elliot Klein, the company is based in New York.
Upside cofounder Tom Kimberly said he has leased a block of lofts at a downtown building and is planning to move his entire staff to St. Louis from the Bay Area for the duration of the accelerator program.
“Silicon Valley is very good at solving Silicon Valley problems, but its not great at solving normal people problems,” Kimberly said.
Mike Kane, the CEO of Hedgeable in New York City, says in addition to the $100,000 in funding, SixThirty was attractive because of access to the “rails,” or the financial companies based here.
“There are just a lot of different kinds of banks out here,” he said, “That’s really what got us so excited about the program because we sell directly into those companies now. So it eliminate the need for us to be flying back and forth to St. Louis.”
SixThirty, by the way, is named after the height and width of the Gateway Arch.