Monotto, based in Charleston, South Carolina is a financial services company that provides a platform that automates saving and investing for Millennials.
Recently, I sat down with co-founders Christian Ruppe, CEO and Jared Kopelman, COO of Monotto at The Venture Center to discuss the company, its development, and plans for the future.
Ruppe and Kopelman and their third co-founder Hank Stocker, met in an entrepreneurship class during their undergraduate studies at the College of Charleston. During the class, the co-founders of the company (originally named Moneta) obtained $1,000 funding and went on to compete in a larger pitch competition which resulted in the awarding of an additional $10,000 in seed capital. During the program, Monotto gained access to key mentors, one of which encouraged the founders to apply for the VC FinTech Accelerator.
The Value of the VC FinTech Accelerator
"We were looking for something to do this summer," said Kopelman. "We wanted to be a part of a FinTech ecosystem and there are a bunch of big accelerators out there, but one that specializes in your field is what you want to target."
Being plugged in to the larger FinTech community and having not only FIS as a resource, but the other portfolio company founders and mentors as resources as well is a key advantage to Monotto, the founders noted.
"We knew that we wanted an accelerator geared to our business," added Ruppe, "but we also wanted something that would push our business and our idea forward."
Ruppe noted that the company had looked into other accelerators, including a local accelerator. Typically accelerators teach business concepts such as marketing, business structure, etc. The key from Ruppe's perspective, was the targeted advice the company could gain from the collaboration of The Venture Center and FIS.
Access is a Key Value
From the first week, the portfolio companies gained access to top FIS leadership. This access has been a key value add for Monotto. Starting with the one-on-one session with Gary Norcross, FIS CEO, and continuing the first week having FIS executives and key personnel on site provided Monotto with the opportunity to dive right in to the process with confidence.
Short Meetings, Big Impact
The short whiteboard sessions and small incidental meetings have made a huge impact, Ruppe pointed out. Coming in to the program, the founders had a specific vision for their company and idea. The quick, side meetings with key FIS officials have pushed the company to think of their offerings in a different way. In addition, the founders have been challenged to think of how to access and tap additional market segments.
"This focus has truly accelerated our growth," said Ruppe.
Accelerator Provides Validation
Even though they have had success with previous pitch competitions and had confidence in their idea, the founders noted that they have faced an uphill climb convincing seasoned business persons and investors of the validity of their company.
"Being accepted in to the VC FinTech Accelerator is validation," said Ruppe.
The Little Rock Advantage
"Leveraging the network out here (in Little Rock) that we would have never thought of prior is a key advantage," said Kopelman. "FIS providing the global support and the engagement of the local business network is powerful."
For Monotto, this is just the first step. With the collaboration provided by FIS and the support of The Venture Center, the future spans bright before Monotto.
Don't miss the exciting conclusion to this program. Join us for the VC FinTech Accelerator Demo Day on August 3rd at the Clinton Presidential Center.