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Like many industries, the past year has brought plenty of disruption to the financial services sector. Banks were forced to quickly adapt to providing loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which meant dealing with ever changing guidelines and customers desperate for clarity and a lifeline in a time of turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic also forced the closure of branches, so banks had to increasingly rely on digital services, accelerating an already existing trend.
More recently, users on Reddit and easy access to trading sent some company stocks like GameStop and Koss Corp. on wild rides this winter. Cryptocurrencies and other digital assets have also seen a continued rise in interest, creating wealth for some along with new business opportunities.
Wisconsin may be better known for its manufacturing or agriculture, but the state is also home to companies like Fiserv, Northwestern Mutual and American Family, all of which have a strong presence in the financial and insurance technology areas.
There are also a growing number of startups working in those areas. Here are a few to watch in the coming years:
Based in Green Bay, Sequoir was founded in 2018 by Justin Seidl. It has grown into a blockchain-built exchange to buy and sell digital assets. The company has grown to support the exchange of a number of assets including Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Vertcoin, which was part of its initial focus. Sequoir emphasizes its non-custodial approach and support for the growth of digital asset communities.
Milwaukee-based Coinigy was launched in 2016. It is a professional cryptocurrency trading platform that gives users control of their exchange accounts in a single interface. It now enables trading on more than 40 cryptocurrency exchanges.
Quiver Quantitative was started in February 2020 by UW-Madison students James and Christopher Kardatzke. The company gathers alternative stock data from sources across the internet, including corporate lobbying, stock trading by members of Congress and discussion on WallStreetBets, and then pulls the information together into a free dashboard online. The goal is to help bridge the gap in information between Wall Street and retail investors. The Spring Green-based company raised a $525,000 seed round led by the Idea Fund of La Crosse.
Debtle, based in Kohler, aims to help companies and individuals negotiate and settle overdue invoices and bad debt through a cloud-based platform. The company won the NEW Launch Alliance HATCH Event, which was sponsored by New North, last year and this year was selected for the summer 2021 cohort of gener8tor’s gBETA Milwaukee program.
Led by entrepreneur Christopher Perceptions, Milwaukee-based PerceptForm aims to provide cryptocurrency education and services to minority populations. The company is planning to launch PerceptPay, a marketplace that allows users to pay for goods and services with bitcoin, along with PerceptForm, a crypto debit card. Perceptions received $5,000 and free mentorship from the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center on “Project Pitch It” this season.
Founder Tanya Ferrell is drawing on her experience at banks, insurance companies and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to develop Milwaukee-based Lucendity into a loan comparison shopping tool. The service makes lender recommendations based on customer values like community impact, ease of digital process or ability to connect with customer service. Lucendity has launched multiple iterations of its project and was part of gener8tor’s Milwaukee Accelerator Studio.
Vyflow is a portfolio management platform to help ease communication between startups and investors. The company’s features include an ability for a startup to see which investors are engaging with updates, when and for how long. Investors are able to track portfolio companies, get view-only access to bank info, receive due diligence information and more. Vyflow says it already has startups, accelerators and investors using its platform. The company was part of gener8tor’s Beloit Accelerator Studio.