Show Me The Money!

Although the summer is just starting to heat up, a number of DC FinTech startups and private equity firms have already securing funds to propel their businesses into the second half of 2017. MPOWER Financing and FS Card Inc are two of DC’s hottest FinTech startups, just named to DCA Live’s Trending 40 Red Hot Companies. Meanwhile, DC Capital Partners and Acon Equity Partners just closed their second and fourth private equity funds respectively. mpower-logo-main-400x86DC FinTech startup MPOWER Financing has secured $500,000 in financing from 1776’s venture fund. This round comes ahead of MPOWER’s planned Series B that will close later this summer. MPOWER’s mission is to remove financial barriers to higher-education, and it hopes to reach 100,000 students by 2017. MPOWER believes that financing should not be based on how wealthy a student’s family is or where a student comes from. Instead, they believe it’s all about the students’ future potential and their earning power post-graduation. MPOWER closed its $6 million Series A round in October, led by Zephyr Peacock, 1776, and Village Capital.


FS Card Inc just closed an $8 million round, newsletter Strictly VC reported on May 25. The DC FinTech startup is on a mission to deliver honest mainstream financial products to underserved consumers, enabling them to meet their everyday liquidity needs in a flexible and convenient way. In doing so, FS Card Inc promises customers upfront pricing, no hidden fees, and tools that help them use and build credit wisely. Its executive team includes Marla Blow, who spent 10 years at Capital One and also previously ran the credit card and payments division at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The card itself has MasterCard branding and is designed to help consumers avoid the growing payday loan industry while also rebuilding their credit score.


According to Fortune’s Term Sheet on May 25, Alexandria, Va.-based DC Capital Partners closed its second fund at $450 million. DC Capital Partners is a private equity investment firm headquartered in the nation’s capital that makes control equity investments in middle market companies that provide differentiated and innovative services and solutions in the Government Contracting, Engineering, and Construction Services. Their investment strategy emphasizes sectors that offer the most compelling growth opportunities for investment, such as Intelligence, Information Technology, Cyber Security, and Construction.


ACON Investments raised $1.07 billion for its fourth fund, ACON Equity Partners IV, on May 17. ACON is a middle-market private equity investment firm led by a cohesive team that has been investing together for over 20 years. They partner with management teams to create value through separate funds for investors across a wide range of industries in the U.S. and in Latin America. Founded in 1996, ACON is responsible for managing approximately $5.5 billion of assets with a diverse portfolio of companies spanning over 60 investments, including financial services firms InverCap and Credivalores.


Who’s Hiring?

Looking for a FinTech job in the DC Metro Area? Look no further. Here are 13 companies looking for your talents right now! Want to advertise a role at your company? Contact us or leave a comment below.

Categories: Engineering, Product, Design, Operations, Marketing, Biz Dev


Reading List: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

No matter what you’ll be doing this summer, there’s no better way to find that much needed rest and relaxation than by curling up with a good book on the beach, by a lake, or in your very own backyard. The next book on my summer reading list is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. What are you reading?

the lean startup

The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business. The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute. Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

Reading List: Hooked by Nir Eyal

No matter what you’ll be doing this summer, there’s no better way to find that much needed rest and relaxation than by curling up with a good book on the beach, by a lake, or in your very own backyard. The next book on my summer reading list is Hooked by Nir Eyal. What are you reading?


Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal

Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us? Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging. Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

Reading List: Zero To One by Peter Thiel

No matter what you’ll be doing this summer, there’s no better way to find that much needed rest and relaxation than by curling up with a good book on the beach, by a lake, or in your very own backyard. The first book on my summer reading list is Zero to One by Peter Thiel. What are you reading?

zero to one

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Peter Thiel

If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets. The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things. Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself. Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique. Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

DC FinTech Roundup: Fundrise

Historically, real estate has proven to be one of the best-performing investments. But why is it that most profits go to institutional investors, who are only middlemen in these types of transactions?

After working with the Securities and Exchange Commission for nearly a year, Dan and Ben Miller launched Fundrise in 2012 to give everyone the opportunity to invest directly in high quality commercial real estate, without middlemen. Today, Fundrise has more than 80,000 members and has invested nearly $3 billion. By leveraging the latest in technology, Fundrise makes the process of investing in real estate simple, efficient, and transparent. Check out Fundrise to discover how their low-fee diversified eREIT is changing the way we invest in real estate.

And want to learn about other startups disrupting the financial services industry in our nation’s capital? Discover more @ DC FinTech.

DC FinTech Roundup: PYT Funds

Student loan debt is rapidly on the rise. The average college student of the Class of 2016 owed $37,172 upon graduation. Today, over 44 million American borrowers owe $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

To combat the student loan crisis one dollar at a time, Stacie Whisonant founded Pay Your Tuition (PYT) Funds in 2013. By bringing together banks, the community, and families, PYT is able to change the way students finance their future. PYT is like Kickstarter for student loans. Borrowers apply for PYT Funding, create a fundraising campaign, and secure a PYT loan to split the difference. Check out PYT Funds to discover how they are embracing FinTech find a smarter to pay for college tuition.

And want to learn about other startups disrupting the financial services industry in our nation’s capital? Discover more @ DC FinTech.