Jan 20

Musings from Silicon Valley: It’s Pricey and Wet, but Always Exciting

The week of the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference was not the best time to visit San Francisco – record-breaking storms delivered torrential rain, and a night in a standard hotel ran upward of $2,500. So, dear reader, why on earth did I venture north during this time? To bring you these startup insights:

  1. Fintech sits within a hugely crowded marketplace, but CommonCents lab aims to make sense of it all by getting to the root of what drives consumers’ seemingly irrational behavior, and building solutions to their problems. If you are a fintech founder or work in solutions at a larger institution, you might learn a thing or two about your target audience from an organization that proclaims: “We study, design, test and implement behavioral interventions that help people be happier, healthier and wealthier.”
  2. Banking solutions for the cannabis industry continue to plague “green” entrepreneurs. One company claims to have a solution to these legal and accounting issues, but are in desperate need of a balance sheet to begin operating. The industry’s billion-dollar question: In this forthcoming administration, how can a fintech cannabis payments system startup stay off the DEA’s radar? We will be watching (and so will the DEA).
  3. If you are launching a fintech startup, take note that creative marketing is alive and well – and hugely competitive. One of the most innovative approaches is coming from our friends at MovoCash, a bank-backed Venmo competitor. The company is going beyond a traditional “celeb endorsement” to build its entire brand persona and identity around an up-and-coming SoCal musician, in hopes that breaking from traditional “big-bank” branding will impress a notoriously selective target market (we’re lookin’ at you, millennials). Music and payments? In a time when streaming services and illegal downloads are constraining musicians’ profits, Movo could be onto something here.
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