Entrepreneur: This Firm Is Fueling Investors' Wallets and Desire to Do Good With the Power of the Sun

Catherine Clifford reports in Entrepreneur:

Sam Beaudin, Bryan Birsic and Dave Riess, who were doing well for themselves employed in various roles at tech startups, all harbored an underlying angst. They realized that if the companies they worked for suddenly disappeared, not much would change. The Earth would continue to spin on its axis, albeit with slightly less efficiency in a few niche markets.

This was back in the fall of 2013, and the friends wanted to break out on their own. But they still needed to pick their problem. Despite their heady, slightly crunchy-sounding idealism, the three were obsessively measured in investigating options for their potential startup. During regularly scheduled Google Hangouts, they discussed the idea of overhauling remote healthcare and helping seniors with technology. They conducted field research in both of those areas. Birsic spent days in a nursing home watching folks try to type on touch screens with shaky fingers.

But the trio wanted to think bigger. They decided that they should put their efforts into solar energy. If climate change wipes out humanity, they reasoned, then elderly people won’t be texting with their grandchildren anyway.

Go here to read the full article.

Huffington Post: Thoughts on IoT and Finance

Read Javier Saade's piece in the Huffington Post

IoT, smart devices, wearables, mobile technology and nanotech - yes, nanotech - are forcing financial services incumbents and challengers to rethink every aspect of their value chains. Those value chains are getting to be exponentially more distributed and automated. Increased digitization means more data being generated, from all kinds of places at an accelerating rate. IoT, regardless of your perspective, promises to enable the development of new value-added services to improve and automate user engagement, customer acquisition and service delivery - everywhere at all times.

In insurance for instance, user engagement is very low. Customers like it that way because there are no incentives for them to interact other than once a year when a policy holder renews it. But recasting the current low engagement environment with an IoT lens, insurers may be able to develop value-added services that give customers a reason to engage more frequently. One way to do it is by providing discounts. An example would be to give customers price breaks if they opt-in to apps that monitor perspiration levels, body temperature, and heart rate via smart clothing. Sounds far fetched? Think again.

Go here to read the full article. 

Forbes: GoodWorld CEO Makes Giving Go Viral

Anushay Hossain reports in Forbes:

Dale Nirvani Pfeifer grew up sharing sidewalks with penguins (true story), and daydreaming against the vast blue skies of her native New Zealand. But the Founder & CEO of GoodWorld, a tech startup that makes donating easy on social media, always knew her destiny was in America. 

'I had actually always wanted to move to the U.S., ever since I was a kid,' Nirvani Pfeifer tells me. 'My goal in life has always been to create the biggest impact and help the most people, but that can be difficult to do in New Zealand - it's far away from a lot of the rest of the world, doesn't have a huge population, and capital isn't as accessible as it is here.' 

GoodWorld's #donate technology is changing the way people connect online by making donating to charity as simple as sending out a tweet, or posting a comment. Nirvani Pfeifer came up with the idea after reading a Facebook post about an Afghan educator she wanted to donate to, but wound up frustrated by the complicated process to give to a good cause. GoodWorld officially began 'unleashing the next generation of generosity' in 2014, and business could not be better. 

Go here to read the full article.


Wall Street Journal: PayJoy Picks Up $18M for Smartphone Financing Plans

Scott Martin reports in the Wall Street Journal:

PayJoy co-founders Doug Ricket and Mark Heynen, who met working together on Maps at Google before the company moved under Alphabet Inc., have engineered a different way to finance smartphones.

The startup has applied knowledge of Android firmware, which was gleaned at the online search giant, to create software to lock phones for nonpayment in PayJoy's pay-to-own contracts. The ability to lock Android phones tied with PayJoy's financing plans promises more attractive financing options for smaller retailers, the co-founders said.

'We see the big opportunity in being the finance company, but technology enables us to achieve that mission,' said Heynen, chief business officer at PayJoy.

Go here to read the full article.

Yahoo Finance: FinTech Startup EarnUp Lands $3 Million To Intelligently Automate Payments

As reported by PRNewswire:

EarnUp, a consumer-first fintech platform that intelligently automates loan payments, announced its launch today with $3 million in seed funding.  Blumberg Capital, Kapor Capital, Camp One Ventures, Fenway Summer Ventures, and other leading angel investors provided seed capital to accelerate the platform's development and expand user access with a mission to improve consumer financial health. Forbes recently announced EarnUp as a winner of the prestigious Financial Solutions Lab in partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and the Center for Financial Services Innovation. Though still in private beta, EarnUp already manages hundreds of millions of dollars in consumer loans on its platform. More information is available at www.EarnUp.com.  

'Millions of Americans suffer fianancial stress from income volatility, where their income doesn't match up with when loan payments are due,' said Matthew Cooper, co-founder of EarnUp. 'Our product solves this issue by effectively budgeting for the consumer. We help put money aside as it comes in, giving people peace of mind in knowing the money they need will be there when loan payments need to be made. We give control back to the consumer' 

Go here to read the full press release.


Research Paper: Local Conditions and Debt in Collections

Christopher Trepel, in partnership with the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group, recently published a report on consumer indebtedness:

Delinquent debt in the United States is an important concern for both researchers and policymakers, yet little is known about which localities in the country are most affected by, and which local characteristics are most associated with, financial distress. This paper begins to bridge this gap by using unique credit bureau data to examine the geographic distribution of debt in collections in the United States and, merged with local-level data, identify the characteristics of neighborhoods (census tracts) with high debt in collections. In doing so, we answer the following research questions:

1. How is debt in collections geographically distributed across the United States, and which areas have the highest concentration of debt in collections?

2. Which neighborhood characteristics are associated with debt in collections? How do local-area health insurance coverage, housing market conditions, labor market conditions, and socioeconomic characteristics relate to individuals’ financial distress, as measured by debt in collections?

Go here to read the full report.

Where to Find Us: Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Javier is representing the venture capital sector as a delegate at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit being held June 22-24 at Stanford University which culminates in a conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama.  Javier is honored to be addressing an entrepreneurial delegation from Cuba which will also hear from Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, Ulu Ventures partner Miriam Rivera, Valor Equity partner Juan Sabater and Addepar CEO Eric Poirier among others.  These entrepreneurs are engaged in various business endeavors in Cuba, from enterprise computing consulting to operating restaurants and barbershops. 

June 27-29th, Raj will take part in the Salzberg Global Seminar session on Financing the Global Economy: How Traditional and Non-Traditional Sources Be Integrated? which brings together policy makers, regulators, financial services firms, and academics to explore how banks, non-bank intermediaries and markets all contribute to the sound functioning of the global economy.  Raj will be featured on the "Digital Disruption in Capital Markets" panel. 

On June 28, Javier will join Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the Hispanic American Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington. At over 55 million strong, Hispanic-Americans represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, play an integral role in the American economy, and remain critical to America's ability to thrive as a nation. Yet, Hispanic-Americans continue to be underrepresented in the investment and banking sectors. The panel will cover the challenges entrepreneurs face accessing capital, with a particular focus on the Hispanic population. 


Business Insider: Investors who 'couldn't care less' about clean energy are giving money to this solar finance firm

Jeremy Berke reports in Business Insider:

A common perception in the impact investing industry — that is, investing for a cause — is that you have to make sacrifices to put your money to work for a good cause. 

Bryan Birsic, the CEO of Wunder Capital says that is exactly the wrong way to think about it. 

'Impact investors want to feel as though the positive impact their money has is a cherry on top, a tie-breaker, or whatever analogy you want to use,' Birsic told Business Insider in a phone interview. 

'They do not want to feel like they'er sacrificing return,' he added. 

Go here to read the full article.

TechCrunch: The Unsexiest Trillion-Dollar Startup

Josh Constine reports in TechCrunch:

Steve Jobs went ballistic when public shipping manifests leaked the existence of the iPhone 3G. That’s about the only time something exciting happened in the freight forwarding business. The circulatory system of the global economy is a trillion-dollar industry, yet no one really talks about it, or builds tech for it.

That’s what makes freight such a massive disruption opportunity for a startup like Flexport

Transparency begets data, which begets efficiency. Smarter shipping shrinks the physical world the way faster internet shrinks the digital one. New businesses emerge. High bandwidth connections paved the way for Netflix. Now Flexport could make meatspace merchants as nimble as Amazon.

With $26.9 million in funding, Flexport grew the volume of goods it ships by 16X this year. Y Combinator president Paul Graham says “Flexport is one of that small handful of startups that are going to change the world.” Freight might finally be getting the weight of attention it deserves. 

Go here to read the full article.

Blockchain News: Align Commerce Obtains Insurance Covering Blockchain Payments

Richard Kastelein reports in Blockchain News:

Next-generation global payments provider Align Commerce today announced that it is enhancing protections for its small - and medium - sized business (SMB) clients sending payments internationally, by obtaining insurance to safeguard against losses as a result of a physical or cyber-security breach, theft, or operational errors and omissions. These policies, together with Align's commitment to operating robust regulator and compliance programs, helps build customer confidence in using its modern cross-border Blockchain payment solutions. 

Go here to read the full article.

CODE: Movie Screening & Leader Perspectives

Fenway Summer Ventures, Softtek and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) invite you to have fun, think and engage. Come join us and hear trailblazing women talk about bridging the gender gap in the digital age and watch this insightful film.  Meet fellow entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, programmers and others across DC's burgeoning tech ecosystem. 

About the Movie

CODE exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap and digital divide. The film highlights breakthrough efforts that are producing more diverse programmers and shows how this critical gap can be closed. 

Tech jobs are growing three times faster than our colleges are producing computer science graduates. By 2020, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs in the USA. Through compelling interviews, artistic animation and clever flashpoints in popular culture, CODE documentary examines the reasons why more girls and people of color are not seeking opportunities in computer science and explores how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles and sexism all play roles in this national crisis. Expert voices from the worlds of tech, psychology, science, and education are intercut with inspiring stories of women who are engaged in the fight to challenge complacency in the tech industry and have their voices heard. CODE aims to inspire change in mindsets, in the educational system, in startup culture and in the way women see themselves in the field of coding.

This event is one of many happening around the country leading to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit taking place June 23-24 at Stanford University in Palo Alto.

For for more information on the speakers and to register please go here

Entrepreneurial Hustle: Limitless Driver of Global Prosperity

Javier Saade will join the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit taking place in Silicon Valley next month. Read why he is so passionate about supporting entrepreneurship:

Hola, me llamo Javier. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and now live in Washington DC with my wife Lori and our rescue mutt Piper. To say that I consider myself lucky is true but I also have hefty reserves of energy and curiosity.

The professional experiences that have shaped me blend entrepreneurial, investment, advisory and executive leadership roles in companies big and small, including McKinsey & Co, Booz Allen, Abbott Labs, Bridgewater Associates, The GEM Group, Pacific Community Ventures, Paradigm Ventures and Air America Media. It’s been a wild ride.

Go here to read the full post.