Falls Fintech will celebrate the launch of its inaugural accelerator by welcoming a cohort of five startups to Sioux Falls with a kickoff event on March 9.
Falls Fintech is the state’s first fintech accelerator, and it was created in 2019 as a subsidiary of Central Payments, the payments division of Central Bank of Kansas City. Going forward, the Falls Fintech team hopes to host two 10-week accelerators each year—one in the spring and one in the fall.
Check out our previous article to learn more about Falls Fintech.
The first cohort was narrowed down from a competitive pool of applicants from across the country and the globe. The selected participants make up a group of talented entrepreneurs that the Falls Fintech team is proud to bring into the Sioux Falls community.
Real substance, real connections, real opportunity
Throughout the course of the accelerator, companies will learn from industry experts and collaborate with one another to enhance their products, strategies, and leadership.
“We’re going to spend time giving them what we consider best-in-class training for fintech companies,” said Nikkee Rhody, Managing Director of Falls Fintech. “Our differentiating quality is that we’re giving them the whole package—pitch coaches, connections, a mentor pool of 100 strong, and our venture capital component.”
The selected companies receive an investment of $30,000 from the Falls Fintech team to use at their discretion, whether for travel costs or other business needs. Halfway through the 10-week program, Falls Fintech will bring the cohort to New York City to spend a day with fintech venture capitalists on Tech Row.
“What we really hope to provide throughout the experience is real substance, real connections, and real opportunity,” Rhody said.
Applications to Falls Fintech are accepted on a rolling basis, and they will begin reviewing submissions for the fall cohort later in the spring. Rhody says it was a difficult decision-making process, and applicants who didn’t make it into the first cohort may be considered for upcoming spots.
“You just have to be mindful of the culture you’re trying to establish and who you think would work well together,” Rhody said. “Some people had really great ideas but it just didn’t fit at this time.”
Meet the entrepreneurs
The first cohort is made up of five companies: XpenseOne, Invest Sou Sou, Build Financial Technology, Permiso, and Soon.app.
XpenseOne is a digital expense management product designed for small to medium-sized business, allowing them to automate processes related to expense reports, approval workflows, and reconciliation. Representing XpenseOne in Sioux Falls are its CEO, Victor Yefremov, and COO and CFO, Jim Schlosser, from Spokane, Washington.
Invest Sou Sou is a smart social banking account developed to help banks create secure and cost-efficient opportunities for customers, whether they’re looking to build credit or begin investing. The company’s CEO, Fonta Gilliam, comes to Sioux Falls from Washington D.C.
Build Financial Technology was developed to empower the middle class by providing them with trusted tools to help build emergency savings, manage their spending, and improve their financial health. Build Financial Technology’s CEO, John T. Williams, comes to Sioux Falls from New York City.
Permiso is a startup out of Los Angeles dedicated to teaching financial literacy to kids. Using their app and cards, Permiso’s team teaches kids about the practical, emotional, and social aspects of dealing with finances. Permiso CEO, Josh Brazier, will be representing the company in Sioux Falls.
Soon.app offers a smart debit account to automate and simplify the investment experience for users. Soon’s CEO, Chris Lovato, comes to Sioux Falls from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rhody emphasizes the impact these companies could have on Sioux Falls, and she encourages the community to embrace them with open arms. By showcasing the vibrant entrepreneurship community in Sioux Falls throughout the program, Rhody says the opportunity is ripe for companies to consider relocating their headquarters.
During the 10 weeks, the Falls Fintech team will work to integrate the cohort into the community by exploring all Sioux Falls has to offer, from weekly 1 Million Cups events to the Sculpture Walk.
“These are people who are getting to experience Sioux Falls who normally wouldn’t have that opportunity, and once you get here, you love it,” she said. “Getting smart, talented, creative entrepreneurs here—even if just for a short season—is how you begin to plant and cultivate that mindset, and that’s how roots happen and how sustainability happens.”
If you’re a local entrepreneur or business leader interesting in supporting this cohort, you can email Rhody at [email protected].
“Whether it’s offering mentorship or just sitting down for a cup of coffee, we want to provide as much value as possible throughout these ten weeks,” she said.
The kickoff will take place from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at Falls Fintech’s office at 101 S Phillips Ave., Suite 104. This is an opportunity to meet and celebrate the cohort as they begin their 10-week journey through the accelerator program. Mayor Paul Ten Haken will be speaking at the event, and the public is welcome to attend and learn more about Falls Fintech.