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Sixteen fintech startups pitch at USF

Veronica Brezina

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Tampa Bay Wave founder Linda Olson welcomes the attendees at the fintech accelerator program pitch night event in St. Petersburg. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

From helping college students climb out of debt to empowering women in e-commerce, startups are part of the fintech accelerator that’s helping advance the reputation of St. Petersburg as a fintech hub

On Wednesday evening, 16 startup founders pitched their products to a roomful of investors, venture capitalists and other fintech industry leaders during the Tampa Bay Wave and the University of South Florida’s inaugural Fintech|X Accelerator program.

The startups selected for the 2022 cohort are geographically diverse, with 15 companies headquartered outside of Florida, including five from Israel, England, Saudi Arabia and Germany. The diversity also extends beyond geography as three of the startups are led by women, and founders include military veterans, minorities and members of the LBGTQ community.

This year’s 90-day accelerator, which began Monday, represents a multi-year partnership between Tampa Bay Wave, the USF Muma College of Business and the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation.

One of the startups that received high applause was Paperstack, which developed a platform to help merchants receive on-demand funding, monthly coaching and a personalized dashboard. The Toronto-based startup graduated from the Techstars and Google Accelerator programs. The startup supports e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Amazon, Etsy and WooCommerce; however, what garnered the favorable reaction from the crowd was how the startup has a true focus on closing the funding gap for women, who make up 60% of the e-commerce space. 

“Less than 3% of funding went to women last year, yet e-commerce is dominated by women,” said CEO and co-founder Assel Beglinova. 

Paperstack earns its revenue by charging a 1% origination fee for every loan they refer financial institutions to without having to carry a balance sheet or interest rate risk. 

Since launching this year, they have added more than 150 e-commerce members. 

Another startup that received praise and kicked off the Demo Day event was College Cash, a Fort Worth, Texas-based debt reduction platform. The startup engages with brands through user-generated content and creates a cash back program with financial institutions – so someone earns cash through their everyday debit card transactions. 

“We start with students in high school so that changes your everyday behavior to offset these major debt collections,” said founder and CEO Demetrius Curry, stating the money collected could also go toward offsetting other bills such as home or auto loans. 

The company is on track to have roughly $950,000 in revenue by the end of the year based on user and brand acquisition strategies, and anticipates reaching $16.3 million in revenue by 2024, according to its slides. 

Meet the other fintech startups that participated in the accelerator:

Cash Q This company is based out of Miami and is a solution for international cross-border payments. The platform is connected to institutions, unions and major card companies. Funds can be sent across 80 countries. 

Finboa: Based out of Houston, Texas, this bootstrapped company provides SaaS-based process automation software to digitalize regulatory compliance processing for banks and credit unions. It’s in over 100 institutions. 

Aquablocks: The Israel-based startup has a platform for banks to secure and manage digital assets with state-of-the-art security.

DUKAPAQ: The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based startup has a digital marketplace platform system designed for merchants across Africa. They are in a beta test phase in 12 stores. 

ElementFi: The Cary, North Carolina-based startup claims it’s the first multi-dimensional all-in-one coin hub for decentralized finance. To date, it has raised over $1 million. 

Homey: The England-based startup designed a digital platform allowing easier conveyance of the stressful home buying process. The company is currently raising a seed round of $3 million. 

inbanx: The Austin, Texas-based startup has a platform that enables small and middle-market companies to maintain budgets, extend corporate credit cards with spend controls and automate expense reporting. 

myEGO: The Germany-founded startup designed a platform to store and share credentials with different partners. The platform aims to help banks monetize digital assets and have a true digital identity. 

Online Application: A business-to-business platform that specializes in accelerated mobile mortgages and life insurance. 

Rabeh: The Saudi Arabia-based startup has a crowdfunding platform and virtual accelerator with built-in features.

RiskSmithThe Tampa-based company provides design tools for retail investors to invest in stock and make decisions in the marketplace with lower risks. 

SueAppThis Israel-based company is a legal tech solution for small claims filing. The company said it’s expecting to launch in Florida sometime this year. 

SoleCapitalThe Raleigh, North Carolina-based startup describes itself as a sneaker hedge fund. It provides liquidity to the culture of shoe brands and fashion. 

VIVA Finance: The Atlanta-based startup created a mobile funding platform that loans based on employment information and enables payments directly through payroll. VIVA has its products in 18 states with the intention of operating in all 50 states before the end of 2022. 

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