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NY Class 2021 Stories

Hear more from the companies who took part in our 2021 New York Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Avenify founders

Introducing Avenify

What does Avenify do?
Avenify is building better financial and career services for nurses, starting with student financing. We make it easy for nurses to pay for school, and make it easy for them to get a job once they graduate

What was the inspiration behind your company?
We started Avenify to build the first student financing company that was truly invested in the success of their customers. By aligning the incentives with income-based financing, and providing additional support like career services, we can play an active role in our members’ financial futures and transform the industry.
 
How do you keep motivated as founders?
Getting to see the impact we can have on our members’ lives is incredibly rewarding. We’re working with them at a pivotal time in their journey — they’re graduating college and getting their first job — and we get to play a small role in making that happen.

To learn more about Avenify, visit their website.

Nossa Data Founders

Introducing Nossa Data

What does Nossa Data do?
Nossa Data provides companies with a platform for their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data management, analytics and reporting. Companies can use the SaaS solution to collect qualitative and quantitative ESG information, create reports using the top ESG frameworks and benchmark ESG performance with their peers and industry. Companies benefit from Nossa Data as it allows them to create high quality disclosure more efficiently.

What was the inspiration behind your company?
Julianne
 - I was working in FinTech and became extremely interested in the rapid growth curve of ESG. To learn more, I began writing a weekly educational newsletter about ESG and was able to build many industry relationships. When I met Irina at an incubator program called Antler, we spent a month calling all of my newsletter subscribers searching for the burning problem in ESG. What we found was companies were getting judged on their ESG performance by investors, regulators, employees, clients and others – but they didn’t have a simple way to manage ESG internally. It was all manual. Companies needed a tool that could adequately help them gather and report their ESG information efficiently. We decided to build that tool.

How do you keep motivated as a founder?
Julianne - Passion for the problem we are solving and the positive impact it can have on people and the planet. Not only do I view a massive opportunity for Nossa Data to make it much easier for companies to manage and report their ESG data, but I believe we can collectively work towards solving some of the world’s greatest challenges if companies begin using our tool to do a better job of measuring and monitoring ESG topics.

Irina - I have always been passionate about climate change and social impact but this never overlapped with my skills as a software engineer. When I met Julianne, I got so excited because I saw an opportunity for me to make an impact with my profession. I believe ESG is a big data problem that software can help solve.

To learn more about Nossa Data, visit their website.

Smash founders

Introducing Smash

What does Smash do?
Smash helps enterprising Americans with the number one source of stress and financial regret: credit card debt. We provide and help execute customised payment plans which trigger the virtuous cycle of chipping away at card debt, improving creditworthiness and unlocking cheaper credit to pay debt even faster. We help lift the weight of credit away so our users can go on to achieve their financial goals.
 
What was the inspiration behind your company?
We know each other through building MACH, the first digital bank in Chile, which provides access to ecommerce for three million people in that country. The experience showed us how FinTech can impact people’s lives and we knew we would want to do that again. When Chris came to the US, he realised the biggest problem we could help solve was credit card debt – it’s not right that millions can’t find their way out of balances at 20%+ rates.
 
What are your best reads for 2021 so far?
We hands down recommend The Infinite Machine, about how an army of crypto hackers is building the next internet with Ethereum. It tells the story behind how the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap was created and how it grew to support most blockchain applications. But it’s also an engaging read about founders following their passion and the challenges they faced along the way. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the author is Chris’s wife.

To learn more about Smash, visit their website.

LittleNewt Founders

Introducing LittleNewt

What does LittleNewt do?
LittleNewt is AI-powered, tax compliance software designed to allow tax professionals to create entire business returns in a matter of seconds. The platform turns what has historically been an extremely labour-intensive process into a fully automated one, giving tax professionals more time for value-add services such as consulting and tax planning for their clients.

What was the inspiration behind your company?
The old-fashioned way business returns are created, and the associated pains, not only affected me when I was at E&Y and PwC, but also my dad when he was a tax Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at Arthur Andersen and my grandad when he was a tax CPA in South Dakota back in the 50s and 60s. In fact, our company is named in my grandad’s honor – his nickname was Little Newt. In my dad’s and grandad’s time it made sense for tax compliance to be a labour-intensive process, there is no reason why it must be that way today. 

How do you keep motivated as a founder?
Chris and Yumin: What keeps us motivated is remembering why we’re doing this. It’s all about our users and how we’re going to make their lives better.

To learn more about LittleNewt, visit their website.

Julius Technologies Founders

Introducing Julius Technologies

What does Julius Technologies do?
Julius is a low code data and analytics platform that allows enterprises to rapidly design and spin up entire applications and architecture on demand. Our solution automates what has historically been an extremely labour-intensive process, empowering companies to innovate faster, become more agile, and reduce operational overhead. We use intelligent automation to build end-to-end systems virtually, so firms don’t have to maintain the hard-coded architecture that costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year to manage.

What was the inspiration behind your company?
Over the last 20 years, Yadong and I have built some of the most complex data and analytics systems at the largest global investment banks. That experience showed us that while data is the new business capital of the digital era, it’s harder than ever to unlock that value. Why? Because of a rigid and complex IT infrastructure that completely stifles innovation and cost-effective change. The traditional way of building systems and applications by writing millions of lines of code just can't keep up. So we created a revolutionary low code platform that helps companies quickly build mission-critical applications and the flexible architecture to support them.
 
How do you keep motivated as a founder?
What motivates us most is the idea that we're helping to democratise the way organisations leverage the power of data, analytics, and AI. Firms can create the most complex, enterprise-grade, and compliant applications with just a few lines of code in 10% of the time and cost versus traditional methods. This allows companies to focus on differentiating their businesses and transforming customer experiences instead of managing complexity. We are creating the future operating model for the digital world, and there's no going back!

To learn more about Julius Technologies, visit their website.

Humanitru Founders

Introducing Humanitru

What does Humanitru do?
Humanitru is a software platform providing exclusively nonprofits with the means to manage all of their supporters at scale. Currently, these supporters are scattered across donor databases, volunteer management systems, event platforms, email lists, etc. and the average nonprofit faces an uphill battle to unify these datasets to personalize engagement. This results in poor retention: eight out of ten first-time donors won't give again to the same nonprofit. Humanitru solves this by building a data integration pipeline in a business intelligence tool so nonprofits can see everyone anytime, anywhere.

What was the inspiration behind your company?
Alan: A previous company idea that I co-founded provided college students with a social media platform around charitable giving and volunteerism, coupled with local business rewards. For example, if your fraternity raised the most amount of money for the spotlighted local nonprofit of the week, then you received free pizza from the local pizza place. Through working with nonprofits to promote these fundraising campaigns, I unsurfaced a larger systemic issue with nonprofit technology and how it affected donor engagement—and the rest is history.
 
How do you keep motivated as a founder?
Alan: Empowering my team and our clients to better accomplish their goals. Everyone on our team and the nonprofits we serve are aligned to one singular mission: to do more good in the world. What motivates me is being able to help in whatever way I can to facilitate that mission and let people truly shine with what they do best: helping the world be a better place.

To learn more about Humanitru, visit their website.

Introducing Floodlight

What does Floodlight do?
We are a data platform for investment advisors and asset managers seeking to align money with values. 

What was the inspiration behind your company?
We are both career bankers and saw so much in the financial system that could be better. As we worked together and saw key trends around impact investing taking off, we decided that we needed to join in the trend and help others use the power of their money to build a better world. Since we often see things differently, growing our friendship around respect for data was a natural way to start Floodlight
 
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to fellow entrepreneurs?
The advice we'd share to fellow entrepreneurs is to really lean into what gives you energy as a founder. If you end up doing a lot of work you don't enjoy, and don't balance that out with the things that thrill you, your family and your team mates, your investors will see it and the results won't be good. Make time to give your company your best and your chances of success are much higher.
 
To learn more about Floodlight, visit their website.

Gravity AI

Introducing gravityAI

What does gravityAI do?
It’s an app store for AI. Engineers can browse third-party AI technologies that are secure, vetted for compliance and automatically standardised in a custom container for easy, low-code implementation, all through a single procurement process. Our platform vastly increases speed to market for product teams.

What was the inspiration behind your company?
Dan literally lived through the problem we’re solving when he couldn't leverage some required third-party AI models while leading a team to build an AI product. The experience was so frustrating that we realised this was a problem begging to be solved. 
 
How do you keep motivated as a founder?
It's important to view building a startup as an adventure. Adventures have ups and downs, new friends and challenges. When times are difficult, the gravityAI team remembers that no good story is without a dragon to slay. 
 
To learn more about gravityAI, visit their website.

Introducing Migrations.ml

What does Migrations.ml do?
Migrations.ml uses machine learning to forecast credit risk. Starting with North American corporate bonds, we produce a daily probability of default for over 600 companies and 4,000 bonds. The probability of default is a standalone credit quality indicator, but it can also be translated to a spread, which can then be used for relative value analysis, a key part of fixed income portfolio management.
 
What was the inspiration behind your company?
As my career in capital markets progressed, I noticed that the processes for credit research and analysis really hadn’t changed since I started in the late 90s. It remained pretty manual, subjective and difficult to scale. As the debt markets grew in the 2010s, I didn’t see how these processes were sustainable, and felt it was risky, given the events of 2008, when an overreliance on credit rating agencies led to a lot of pain and suffering.
 
How do you keep motivated as a founder?
There are plenty of motivating factors: investors, employees and a family for starters! But the biggest motivator is the desire to see this product solve the problem that bothered me in the first place. I had never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but this idea caught hold of me, and I was willing to quit a good job to start this company, build a great team to make it work and be commercially viable in the process.
 
To learn more about Migrations.ml, visit their website.