BMO Harris Bank + 1871 Fintech Program Recap

BMO Harris Bank and 1871 close out first-ever women's fintech mentoring program, including Pocketnest

This post was originally posted by BMO Harris Bank.

BMO Harris Bank and 1871's WMN•FINtech participants closed out the program by presenting their final pitches to a group of BMO senior leaders. Each of the five women-led startups also created pitch videos designed to seek funding from venture capital (VC) investors.

Startups founded by women receive significantly less funding than those founded by men. Fortune and Pitchbook report that 2.7% of VC funding in the US goes to women-founded firms.1 The pitch videos will be leveraged by the startups in their own investor outreach, and BMO and 1871 will share with their networks.


Funding for female founders increased in 2019—but only to 2.7%," Fortune, March 2, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/03/02/female-founders-funding-2019


. WMN•FINtech is the latest iteration of the BMO-1871 Innovation Program and the first focused on women-founded startups. The program was intentionally designed to help bridge the gender gap and give more women entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology and products forward. BMO and 1871 co-created the program specifically for women-founded and led startups that have developed products or services for the financial sector that are customer-focused. The five startups that participated in the inaugural women's-focused cohort are:

  • ExpandHR by Delshan, Inc. (Chicago) is an HR tool that empowers employers to adapt to massive changes in their workforce best practices.

  • Hope Trust (Eatontown, NJ) is a technology-based planning service and trust administration platform for clients with special needs and their families.

  • Plinqit by HTMA (Ann Arbor, Mich.) serves banks and credit unions across the country to help them easily introduce new services for attracting and retaining customers in a cost-effective way.

  • Pocketnest (Detroit) provides financial wellness support to GenX and Millennials based on psychology and behavioral science.

  • CreditRich by WealthyLife (Washington, DC) rounds up spare change to pay bills intelligently and easily increase credit scores.

"Being a women-led and founded company in the Midwest has presented challenges for fundraising and exposure," said Kathleen Craig, founder and CEO of Plinqit by HTMA. "Having a well-respected bank, like BMO, make a commitment to women in fintech and the program was something we were thrilled about and it came at a perfect time."

Jessica Willis, founder and CEO of Pocketnest, added, "Despite COVID-19 and its many threats and disruptions, our team recognized the massive amplification this accelerator would give us to show our investors, community and other young founders that a global pandemic can't slow us down. In fact, it reinforced the world's need for Pocketnest. Our institutional customers are coming to us now, more than ever, for enhanced engagement with their customers, members and community and a better platform to promote financial wellness."

"These women founders are solving real problems, addressing real issues, leveraging technology to legitimately make people's lives better," said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. "This program is meant to serve as a launching pad, creating the opportunity for these amazing founders to expand their impact and to build the pipeline of successful women builders in fintech."

"These startups and their leaders are at the forefront of innovation and will continue to push the industry forward. Our goal in creating WMN•FINtech is to break down barriers for women founders and enable them to continue making an impact in the banking and finance sector. I am excited to follow their accomplishments from here," said Hugh McKee, head of BMO Partners. He added, "The program was conducted completely virtually due the pandemic, which came with new challenges for us. I am proud of the ways the group adopted the all-virtual workshops and content and found ways to create community and build long-lasting relationships from a distance."

The WMN•FINtech cohort spent the last several months engaging with BMO mentors and executive champions, participating in BMO-led workshops and 1871's PYROS curriculum. They also received a four-month membership to 1871.

Watch an overview of the WMN•FINtech program including comments from the participants here.





About 1871 1871 is Chicago's technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support founders, growth-scalers, and innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups, ~400+ 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 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 650 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 11,000 jobs, and have raised more than $1.65 billion in follow-on capital.



About BMO Harris Bank BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 500 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$974 billionas of July 31, 2020.

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