BMO and 1871 recently announced the five companies participating in its 2023 WMNfintech program, North America’s largest nonprofit fintech industry program for women-founded and women-led startups. Launched to bridge the gender gap in the startup and tech community, the program gives more women entrepreneurs access to a powerful ecosystem that helps businesses bring forward innovative technologies and products benefiting the U.S. financial sector. Since 2018, BMO and 1871 have guided more than 15 percent of all women fintech founders in North America through the program.
The WMNfintech program provides women entrepreneurs resources, support and mentorship to accelerate their business growth while diversifying their professional networks through BMO and 1871’s member community of expert technology advisors, innovation partners and startup founders. 1871 is an independent, global innovation hub supporting the success of thousands of innovators from idea incubation to Fortune 50.
The following women-led companies comprise the 2023 WMNfintech program cohort:
Finli (Los Angeles) – Lori Shao, CEO
Finli is a public benefit corporation dedicated to eliminating the access gap between small and medium-sized businesses and financial technology. Through a secure platform, it serves as the digital back office for thousands of business owners. This enables them to efficiently manage invoices, inventory, payments, CRM and communications.
Liquid (Los Angeles) – Saujin Yi, CEO and Founder
Liquid builds simple, safe global payment solutions for the world’s small businesses. In most business transactions, one side is at more risk. Either buyers pay and hope for proper delivery of goods and services, or sellers deliver first and wait for payment. With Liquid Trust, businesses can hold payments in third-party micro escrow accounts to protect against delays, defaults and fraud. The solution reduces risk and equalizes business relationships so that businesses of any size can work together and grow with ease, flexibility and confidence.
Neofin (Toronto) – Svitlanka Sergiichuk Romaniuk, CEO and Co-Founder
Neofin is a no-code lending automation solution that lets financial institutions launch consumer lending with no technical team involved. This innovative end-to-end platform covers each stage of the loan product lifecycle, including loan origination, decisioning, customer-facing application, underwriting engine, loan management and servicing. The no-code approach helps financial institutions deliver new loan products to market in a day.
Physis (Boston) – Stefania Di Bartolomeo, Founder and CEO
Physis helps financial institutions build a story about the impact their investments have on the planet. Institutional investors and advisors can create portfolio impact reports with tools that allow them to create model portfolios and report the impact in seconds. With an increased regulatory focus on sustainable portfolio construction and reporting, Physis stays well-positioned to keep sustainable investors SEC-compliant while providing unparalleled transparency into investments.
Rightfoot (San Francisco) – Danielle Pensack, Co-Founder and CEO
Rightfoot is building zero-friction, consumer-permissioned data and payments. The firm brings streamlined debt management and repayment capabilities to clients ranging from fintechs to financial institutions with $10 trillion of assets under management. It launches no-login, up-to-date data across assets and liabilities. In exchange for basic customer information, Rightfoot can surface real-time bank account and credit card balances and transactions.
“This year’s impressive line-up of women-led startups is already solving critical financial challenges and we look forward to enabling them with the right tools and resources to succeed long-term through our robust ecosystem of partners,” said Andrew Harrison, Head of U.S. Digital Partners at BMO. “Since we launched WMNfintech in 2018, women-led fintechs in our program have raised more than $31 million in capital and created over 170 jobs – a true testament to the power of our network to help founders make real financial progress. BMO looks forward to supporting this year’s founders and is proud to continue our partnership with 1871 to help women entrepreneurs close the gaps in representation and access to capital.”
The WMNfintech program will provide the selected startups with:
- Curriculum focused on enterprise sales cycles, vendor management, information security, risk and regulatory requirements and media training delivered by BMO.
- The opportunity to pitch to investors and BMO partners for feedback, mentoring, continued connections or funding.
- Access to PYROS fintech, an immersive 12-week educational program at 1871.
- Six-month membership to 1871, including access to its space, resources, and support.
“Women-founded and led fintech startups are a catalyst for innovation, growth and economic empowerment—not a symbol of diversity,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “These women are breaking barriers and bringing their unique perspectives to the table, redefining the financial landscape and creating solutions that resonate with the needs of all. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with BMO by supporting and equipping these five women with vital resources and mentorship as they grow their businesses – their success paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.”
WMNfintech strongly aligns with BMO’s commitment to Zero Barriers to Inclusion and its digital-first operating mindset. This year’s program builds off BMO’s commitment to create a powerful ecosystem for women founders.
BMO further supported WMNfintech alumni this year by:
- Working with or investing in five WMNfintech alumni organizations: SpringFour, Plinqit, ArenaPay, Sign-Speak and Grounded Technologies.
- Bringing WMNfintech to the 2023 Fintech Meetup, one of the largest U.S. fintech-focused conferences.
- Announcing previous cohorts’ participation in the Female Innovators Lab by Anthemis, the largest early-stage fintech fund focused on female founders.
- Supporting the launch of the largest women fintech social organization in the Chicago area, NYC Fintech Women – Chicago Chapter.
About BMO Financial Group
BMO Financial Group is the eighth largest bank in North America by assets, with total assets of $1.25 trillion as of April 30, 2023. Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a diverse team of highly engaged employees providing a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management, global markets and investment banking products and services to over 13 million customers across Canada, the United States, and in select markets globally. Driven by a single purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, BMO is committed to driving positive change in the world, and making progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future and more inclusive society.
1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early-stage, growth-stage, late-stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.