January 21, 2021
Leveling the playing field to enable more voices in fintech
Nell Malone & Bhargavi Kamakshivalli
Plaid launches Plaid Accelerate (fka FinRise), an incubator program to empower early-stage entrepreneurs that are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color
Entrepreneurship should be accessible - anyone with a great idea should have access to the same opportunities and resources to be successful. At Plaid, we believe in technology as a force for good. We want to unlock financial freedom for everyone by empowering entrepreneurs and innovators. We want to create a fintech ecosystem that consists of more voices rather than fewer.
During an internal hackathon, Plaiderdays, last summer, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of us got together to think about how we can support adding more voices to the fintech ecosystem. After what was initially a concept and months of planning, we are excited to officially announce the launch of Accelerate, a nine-month program designed to support early-stage founders who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) in launching their businesses by focusing on three key areas of support.
While technology has come a long way to level the playing field, the reality is that many minority-owned businesses are still frequently denied access to some of the most basic resources needed to start and grow their businesses. In fact, according to a report by the Small Business Administration, Black-owned firms were more than twice as likely to have unmet credit needs and were often subject to more scrutiny when applying for loans. It is a shared responsibility to help power a financial system that works for everyone, and we recognize that one way to achieve that is to support and promote a diverse ecosystem of entrepreneurs.
Access to capital and services:
Access to resources & networking opportunities are critical during the earliest stages of company building. Through Plaid’s partnership with a network of purpose-built venture capital firms, network service providers, and accelerators, startups in our program will have access to networking opportunities, discounted services and ad credits, and pitch practice.
Resources to accelerate growth:
Entrepreneurs will participate in a three-day virtual bootcamp with workshops on relevant technical, product, and business topics to help guide early business development. The bootcamp will be led by a combination of Plaid experts and other thought leaders with a deep dive into topics like communication and storytelling, engineering best practices, navigating the policy and regulatory landscapes, and designing user-centric experiences.
Ongoing mentorship and support:
Following the bootcamp, participants will have access to ongoing support through a nine-month period including:
Dedicated account manager: a day-to-day contact from Plaid who provides product best practices and helps them develop their business
Skillshare network: an internal network that founders can leverage for ongoing guidance on topics covered in the bootcamp (e.g., navigating the policy and regulatory landscapes)
Mentorship from Plaid leaders: founders in the program will be paired with Plaid leaders who can offer guidance on the early stages of company building
A community: a space to network and learn from other entrepreneurs in the program with the opportunity to mentor future cohorts
More on this program will be available here.
Our goal is to build a more thriving and diverse fintech ecosystem that serves all communities. Our mission is to unlock financial freedom for everyone through innovation, and we believe it's our shared responsibility as a company to do more in service of that.
Our first bootcamp experience will take place this spring. If you are interested in applying, please do so here by Feb 21.