New Accelerator Is Calling for Philly Fintech Entrepreneurs

The program led by Ben Franklin Tech Partners will invest at least $50,000 in two early-stage companies. But there’s a catch.

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As we made our way into 2017 and looked ahead to what’s in store for Philly tech, there were many calls for the city to pay more attention to entrepreneurship outside of our trusty “eds and meds” space.

Ben Franklin Tech Partners is now specifically calling for a focus on Philly fintech. On Thursday, they announced a search for companies to apply for their Fintech Accelerator program, in partnership with D.C. investment firm Village Capital.

The two partners in the program are looking to invest a minimum of $50,000 in two early-stage fintech companies. And there’s a novel twist. The accelerator will actually accept about a dozen companies for the program, which will run from April to June of this year, but they’ll use a peer review model to decide who gets the funds. So at the end of the program, the participants will evaluate one another Survivor-style. It probably won’t be that cut-throat, but the program will require the entrepreneurs to evaluate each other’s businesses against nine indicators of “investment readiness.” And this idea didn’t come from nowhere. It’s Village Capital’s VilCap Communities program—their way of “democratizing” entrepreneurship and investment, bringing more transparency to the process. The model won a Harvard Business Review innovation prize a few years back and may be a welcome change for Philly entrepreneurs.

Ben Franklin says participants will receive mentorship throughout the 12-week program from industry experts and potential investors on everything from business model development to building a customer base.

And it’s not often you hear of Philly collaborating with D.C. RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, president and CEO of Ben Franklin, said their mission in Greater Philadelphia “is well aligned with Village Capital’s focus on facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship to develop communities,” noting that the partnership will draw new attention to Philly’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Ross Baird, Village Capital’s CEO, said the program will provide “best-in-class support for fintech entrepreneurs talking problems in the financial services sector.”

And though Ben Franklin is declaring that the time is now for fintech in the city, Philly fintech companies have been holding their own for some time now. Greenphire’s been named to Inc.’s list of America’s fast-growing companies for four years in a row and companies like Moven and CardConnect are tackling big problems in the financial space, too. Find a whole list of Philly fintech companies here.

And as Technical.ly pointed out, “fintech” is no longer just a buzzword but an entire industry that’s poised for continued growth.

The deadline to apply for the peer-review accelerator is March 10th. Apply here.

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