During our last EXPO, Renaud Laplanche of Lending Club, the highest IPO of 2014, bestowed his wisdom on the crowd. He brought an added level of excitement to the Fintech and Retail movement at Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley. This time around, the Fintech and Retail EXPO once again spiced up innovation in their industries.
Director of Fintech, Scott Robinson, delighted the crowd with an extraordinarily impressive assortment of technology startups. Bitcoin and blockchain consistently amazed investors with their many applications. Michael Olmstead, VP of Corporate Partnerships and Director of Retail, who, despite being busy launching our new New Materials and Packaging platform, shared his time with the crowd to show off his lineup of retail and brand startups. A range of companies that were to die for....or, more practically, to download and invest in.
There was a runner-up and a winner of each of the verticals. For Retail, Blynk came in first and CamFind just behind them in second. While FinTech awarded the first place to Stratos, and second to Maxwell.
Blynk’s Co-founder, Jaclyn Ling, a self-proclaimed shopaholic, did not just restyle her co-founder, but built an entire app around it. Blynk learns your fashion preferences and sends you outfit recommendations based on them. The best part, everything recommended is buyable!
CamFind is one of those apps that is truly addictive to use. Take a picture of anything and the app will identify and provide information on that object. This means distinguishing poison oak on a hike or finding where to buy the chinaware your friend has on display. For Ian Parnes, Senior Director of Business Development at CamFind, the app fuels his potato chip connoisseurship.
Stratos’s motto is getting rid of clutter, clutter being credit cards. The Stratos card allows issuers to differentiate and drive incremental usage by integrating the Stratos technology into their existing card offerings. To sum it up, as the Founder Thiago Olson said during his pitch: “Stratos does for cards what iTunes did for music”.
Maxwell having bought 15 houses between the two of them, co-founder Jason Paasonen & Lance Poole have almost too much knowledge to share when it comes to getting a mortgage. Stemmed from a personal experience of being plagued by a terrible loan officer, Jason decided to humanize the process. Maxwell uses a network-marketplace approach to help borrowers find the best rates from great loan officers and use modern technology to collaborate to close fast.
There may have been only four winners, but all of the startups that turned up that day had an ingenious solution to offer to their sectors. Factom are decentralizing the world’s information using the Bitcoin Blockchain. Sweep proposed a new way of looking at savings, helping you to predict what you spend in the future rather what you used in the past.
Even Dwolla, an internet solution to quickly, safely and cheaply move money, pitched to the crowd. From the Retail side, Doorman reimagined package delivery, while MadeSolid used the power of 3D printing for good. Reactful preached emotional intelligent website as the key to engagement. And Tote Co-founders were inspired by their wives to make their shopping easier through a Pinterest pinning type of process.
And who can forget our wonderful speaker Molly Schonthal, Global Digital Business Director of Mars, who talking on the advantages of being an outlier, the importance of technology, and its reinterpretation of the world. As well as, Dominic Venturo, VP & CIO of U.S. Bank, talked about how “the pace of change is picking up.” Overall, the outlook for the future of Fintech and Retail giants seems sunny with a high chance of innovation.