Financial tech might not be the sexiest thing happening around town, but one company is putting all its bets on it.
Yodlee Interactive (YI), a division of financial software company Yodlee, is beefing up the incubation part of its Next program, making it a more formal incubation program for financial tech startups.
YI’s Next program helps financial companies through three periods: incubation, acceleration, and cultivation. Companies falling into the incubation categories are very small, and need of resources to get their products going, which is why YI is now giving them, on average, $20,000 each. They will also get six month of free access to Yodlee’s API, as well as dedicated technical assistance and early access to new versions.
The $20,000 is actually part of a total $250,000 — or more if it sees fit — that YI will invest across all the participating incubator companies.
“We started hearing from [the incubation-level startups] that they wanted a more official incubator experience,” said Next head Joe Polverari in an interview with VentureBeat.
And while $20,000 might not sound like much funding, Polverari added that YI is not only giving it to the startups without taking any equity in return (gift!) but it also won’t tell them how to spend it, unlike some other programs that require companies to use the funds in particular ways. YI could later choose to “buy equity” — actually invest — but this initial pot of money is free of charge.
Since the beginning of the Next program, YI has been not only making its financial tools available to the companies participating, but has also been providing access to an ecosystem of players in the financial tech space. Participating companies have access to fellow Next participants and alumni, as well as YI’s partners, customers, and virtually anyone else they might want to work with from YI’s network.
“What we’re attempting to create is this giant virtuous circle,” said Polverari.
YI really came out from Yodlee’s realization, after powering Mint.com and seeing how well it did, that it should make its data available to other startups.
YI has several hundreds of companies using its tools, and are in about 30 different verticals within the financial realm, according to Polverari. “Broadly speaking, the common link is that they’re all doing something in or around financial services,” he said.
“We’re launching, as far as we can tell, the first financial incubator in Silicon Valley,” said Polverari, and it fact, it looks like he might be right. There are already others outside of the Bay Area, such as the Fintech Innovation Lab in New York, London, and Asia, and the Scivantage FinTech incubator in Jersey City and Boston, but none around the Valley.
This might give YI’s incubator an edge as many financially-oriented startups are calling the Bay Area “home,” and companies like Coinbase already use YI’s tools.
YI’s parent company, Yodlee, has been around since 1999, much longer than many of the tech companies we talk about everyday, and powers major financial products we use everyday, such as Bank of America’s online banking product. YI is making Yodlee’s data, through APIs, available to companies that want to integrate it into their products.
The Next program originally launched last year. Yodlee, which has raised a total of $124.3 million, and Yodlee Interactive are located in Redwood City, Calif.