10 Startups Chosen For Inaugural ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator

10 Startups Chosen For Inaugural ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator
Representatives of the 10 startups selected for the inaugural ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator pose for a photo with community leaders following a kickoff event held Wednesday in the Venture Center's office at the Littte Rock Technology Park. (Sarah Campbell-Miller)

Ten startups have been selected to participate in the previously announced inaugural ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, sponsored by Independent Community Bankers of America and hosted by the nonprofit Venture Center of Little Rock.

The participants, which will receive a $75,000 investment from the ICBA, are:

  • Adlumin of Alexandria, Virginia, which provides a cost-efficient, easy-to-use and simple to integrate cloud-native security incident and event management AI and machine learning product build for the financial sector.

  • Agora of New York, which helps banks enhance their legacy systems without replacing them to give users a better experience.

  • Botdoc of Monument, Colorado, which gives banks the ability to remotely collect documents in real time.

  • CRiskCo of Brisbane, Australia, which provides automated AI-based onboarding and underwriting technologies to banks, governments, lenders and credit providers.

  • Gerald of New York, which offers banks a widget to embed on their websites that facilitates the quoting and purchasing of personal and commercial insurance policies by their customers.

  • KapitalWise of New York, which offers an AI system that allows financial institutions to interact with customers at scale via machine learning that can predict when a customer is a good candidate or needs to be convinced to take a certain action, such as saving, investing or paying off a loan.

  • MK Decision of San Diego, which offers a loan origination system with automated credit decisions and data-driven fraud prevention.

  • Sou Sou of Washington, D.C, which offers a social banking account banks can offer to customers who want to save and build credit.

  • Teslar by 3E of Fayetteville, which offers software products that improve the accuracy of financial institutions’ data and increase efficiency by making information more accessible.

  • Vetter of New York, which offers an automated online system that leverages data analytics to target a bank’s customers, deploys digital marketing strategies to reach those customers and drives customers to open a new account with the bank.

The 12-week program is focused on identifying and accelerating the development and growth of early-stage financial technology ventures that will develop products and services to benefit community banks and their customers. The participants will meet with representatives from thousands of community banks and receive initial investments, along with mentoring and training from ICBA and the Venture Center's network of mentors and leaders.

The 2019 program will end with the companies pitching their products or services at ICBA LIVE in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 18 and at the Venture Center on March 27.

The Venture Center received 190 applications for the program from companies across the U.S. and in 39 other countries. The Venture Center also held a kickoff event for the program, which focuses on community bank product development, late Wednesday at its offices on the sixth floor of the Little Rock Technology Park.

ICBA Chairman-Elect Preston Kennedy, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., Venture Center Executive Director Wayne Miller and Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, were among the speakers at the event.

Scott, who was an executive at First Security Bank before he was elected in December, said to the 10 companies, “We need you in Little Rock. We need you in Little Rock because we want to continue to increase job growth … Stay here, that is the ultimate goal. We want you to stay here and grow here. We want to help you reach a speed to market and a speed to scale.”

He also said community banks are up against many challenges but those in Arkansas have “been on the cutting edge” and fiscally conservative enough early on to buy financial institutions in other states now.

Kennedy, who serves as president and CEO of Zachary BancShares Inc. of Zachary, Louisiana, said, “The mission of the Independent Community Bankers of America is to create and promote an environment where community banks flourish, and that means not merely survive, but flourish. The definition of the word ‘flourish’ is to grow and develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

“The partnership with the Venture Center really puts ICBA’s mission into action. This partnership is that particularly favorable environment. From that environment, community banks and financial technology companies will sharpen our shared vision to create products, to cultivate solutions and eliminate barriers to delivering the type of superior customer service these banks are known for.”

Hutchinson emphasized to the companies that Arkansas has been working to build a talent pool through his 4-year-old initiative to offer coding in every high school across the state. The program has expected to lower grade levels and 8,000 students took coding classes last year, the governor said.