NXTSTAGE Pilot Competition Announces 2020 Winners

Sept. 17 — Wichita, Kan. — Leaders of Emprise, Fidelity and INTRUST banks today announced Griffin Technologies and Bellwethr as the 2020 NXTSTAGE Pilot Competition winners, choosing them from startups around the country competing to have the banks pilot their financial technologies.

Griffin Technologies, based in Kansas City, Mo., offers a unique marketing and analytics platform to help banks and credit unions reach and serve customers better. Headed by founder and CEO Donald Hawkins, Griffin (@grffnio) will be partnering with all three NXTSTAGE founding bank partners: Emprise, Fidelity and INTRUST banks.

Bellwethr, based in Wamego, Kan, uses AI software to help financial services firms better understand and guide their customers’ journeys. Bellwethr (@getBellwethr), led by founder and CEO Matt Moody, has been awarded a pilot program with Emprise Bank.
Matt Michaelis, Chairman, President and CEO of Emprise Bank, which is running two pilot projects, said, “Innovation is the lifeblood of our business, and we continue to drive to improve customer experience in our digital channel.”

“It’s critical that we stimulate and facilitate innovation,” echoed Charlie Chandler, INTRUST Bank Chairman and CEO. “Banking is constantly changing, and we have more competition than we’ve ever had.”

The competition’s three founding partner banks engaged with multiple NXTSTAGE finalists before naming pilot partners. “Participating in the competition was one way we could encourage startups and open the door to innovative ideas in our industry,” said Fidelity Bank CEO, Aaron Bastian.

The Financial Technologies offered by NXTSTAGE finalists are available for evaluation and use by all of the region’s banks, credit unions and financial services companies.

This was the inaugural year for NXTSTAGE, NXTUS, Inc.’s newest program to support entrepreneurs and foster innovation in the region. Today’s Innovation Showcase, broadcast on YouTube and still available for viewing, featured the 11 FinTech finalists doing pitches similar to ABC’s Shark Tank. It also highlighted local entrepreneurs and included inspiration from Chase Koch, president of Koch Disruptive Technologies, and Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution LLC.

“The time is now, for both startups and corporations fighting to meet today’s challenges,” said Josh Oeding, President and CEO of NXTUS, a catalyst for Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Collaboration between early-stage and well-established companies has never been more vital. The leadership shown by our corporate and community partners shows they see innovation and entrepreneurship as core to leading us all to a bright future.”

Koch also emphasized timing in his Innovation Showcase remarks: “Entrepreneurs are leaving areas like San Francisco and New York for new homes, looking for startup communities that are more business friendly. It is vital to ‘plant a flag’ for Wichita to show that innovation is welcome here and that future-thinking professionals can thrive and be successful,” he said.

Case, who was with Pizza Hut and lived in Wichita in the 1980s, highlighted local business support as a huge asset for growing young companies. “It’s been great to see how Wichita has really rallied around NXTUS and NXTSTAGE and is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs,” he said.

Because of its unique approach to attracting and retaining a tech-oriented workforce, overall development of NXTSTAGE was made possible by a generous grant from the Talent Ecosystem Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation. NetWork Kansas and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation added support for the competition and the Innovation Showcase, along with local businesses Apples & Arrows, Capacity, CK Communications, Kent AV and World Studios ICT.

NXTSTAGE attracted more than 250 competitors – from six continents, 35 countries and 20 states – trying to get in front of prospective pilot partners and customers here. Finalists were chosen in three categories: the Financial Technology competitors featured today, plus startups offering Industry 4.0 technologies and Community Health and Vibrancy innovations.

“For a first-year program to get this level of support and response shows the tremendous potential it has to boost our local innovation culture,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, NXTSTAGE Executive Director. “If we push ourselves, we can position our region as the ‘Pilot Capital of the World,’ where young companies want to come and showcase their offerings. We are excited about helping more corporate and community partners accelerate their innovation journeys by collaborating with promising startups.”

NXTSTAGE 2020 FinTech Finalists:
Offering technology to help banks, credit unions, financial services firms add value for people and businesses

  1. Bellwethr (Wamego, Kan.) is an AI software provider that helps banks grow customer lifetime value throughout each customer’s journey.
  2. Datanomers (Freehold, N.J.) was spun-off from IPsoft and builds on the Amelia AI – NLP platform to offer a Financial Risk Profiler that assesses commercial customers, a Customer Insight Manager to flag customers’ unresolved issues, and a Document Insight Profiler that mines contracts for actionable information.
  3. Destiny (Kansas City, Mo.) is a customer engagement platform that empowers banks and credit unions to grow revenue digitally with their current customers.
  4. FinGoal (Boulder, Colo.) builds AI-powered tools for financial institutions. Their flagship FinSightAPI identifies opportunities for consumer account holders to save money without sacrificing their lifestyle. 5. Griffin (Overland Park, Kan.) makes banking personal. By giving community banks & credit unions a leg up in the 21st Century, Griffin Technologies improves client relationships, increases sales, and enables them to compete with large financial institutions.
  5. Home Lending Pal (Raleigh, N.C.) offers a groundbreaking Automated Mortgage Advisor that simulates requesting a mortgage from multiple lenders to determine approval odds and calculates affordability based on lifestyle. Merging online data from trusted sources to streamline pre-qualification and documentation, the platform simplifies the home-buying process with data-driven workflows, AI and blockchain technology.
  6. Realflow (New York City) is a Customer Experience Automation platform empowering contact center agents to deliver hyper-personalized and fast service to multiple customers simultaneously, aided by fully-integrated Artificial Intelligence and a Collaboration Platform that allows agents to send documents and forms for review and completion on mobile devices.
  7. RealityBLU (Beloit, Wisc. — also a finalist in Industry 4.0) is a SaaS solution that delivers augmented reality tools for marketers to improve their marketing performance and metrics. RealityBLU’s scalable platform eliminates the technical barrier to implement and measure AR content, allowing marketers to attract and delight more customers.
  8. Relativity6 (Cambridge, Mass.), founded at MIT, is a machine learning/AI platform enabling enterprises to accurately predict when their business and consumer customers are most likely to churn as well as the optimal action to retain them. Coupled with a cross-sell recommendation algorithm and easily integrated platform, Relativity6 is able to reduce monthly churn by 1% on average.
  9. SimBlox (Wichita, Kan.) is a digital fintech sales platform delivering repeat insurance and wealth sales at each user’s financial moment of truth. It offers an ecosystem of products distributed through traditional financial companies that creates a fully adaptive user experience, guiding users toward financial wellness.
  10. V2verify (Omaha, Neb.) offers a voice biometric technology that can eliminate the need for passwords, PINs, and challenge questions with 99%+ accuracy, while requiring just 2-seconds of speech. Our solution can improve security, enhance the user experience, and reduce operational costs in areas such as financial services, contact centers and enterprise identity & access management.

For more information on NXTSTAGE and the startup finalists visit https://nxtstage.io/fintech/.

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