Pitch Breakfast roundup: The importance of stories, leading with your background and more

What did you miss at Pitch Breakfast last week?

A team developing an app to invest your spare change based on your interests. A personal tax chatbot that uses AI to answer tax questions and financial inquires. A software and service company that enables banks to extract more value from the management of their derivative collateral portfolio. And an app that helps people focus their financial strategy around their most important goals.

This session featured four companies from the latest class of startups from Queen City Fintech, a 12-week accelerator program designed to mature financial technology startups through intense mentorship from leading banking executives, business development professionals, venture capitalists and attorneys, among others from the Charlotte business community.

At last week’s event, each founder was allowed to talk for two minutes only — no visuals allowed. Then the judges would pass on 15 minutes of feedback.

The panelists this month included:
John Cambier, Managing Partner, IDEA Fund Partners
Keith Luedeman, Executive Director, InCLT Labs

Here were the main takeaways from last week:

Check all the boxes

Tily Milburn and Chad Ross are the youngest founders from Queen City Fintech class of startups. They’re planning to launch an app that makes it easy to learn about socially responsible investing and help users make an impact in the world. The app is being created and designed by four students at the College of Charleston.

Impact Cents is a financial platform designed to make it simple for younger generations to invest spare change into socially responsible impact investments based on their interests. The waitlist for the platform has over 400 people, and the company is offering two months free and priority access on the app.

The founders explained their target is the 25-year-old who wants to travel and is just beyond an entry-level job. They acknowledged they will have competition: Acorns, for example, is another company that seeks to help millennials with investing strategy. And they explained how they will differentiate themselves: During the pitch, Milburn suggested that they would set themselves apart from Acorns because of the gamification features in the app.

“You hit all the checkpoints. It’s amazing how many founders forget how much funding they are looking for, and it was another checkpoint you included in your ask,” Cambier said.

Lead with your background — when appropriate

Busayo Ogunsanya is a licensed CPA in the state of New York who wants to use the power of artificial intelligence to answer tax questions and financial inquiries for the 212 million American taxpayers.

He created AMUS (AskMyUncleSam) to do just that. AMUS is a digital tax assistant and chatbot that can help U.S. tax filers pay less in taxes, reduce mistakes and get a better refund. Ogunsanya is using TensorFlow, an open-source machine-learning framework, to create and train deep learning models. He is also creating a neural network that improves the chatbot overtime.

“Certainly for something like this, your background is very important. It is very important you cover that up front,” Cambier said.

Stories can help get the conversation started

Chris Langley is an entrepreneur working to change how banks extract more value from the management of their over-the-counter derivative collateral portfolio in the face of liquidity and regulatory capital constraints.

Risk-based capital and risk-weighted asset calculations for banks do not currently reflect the full risk reductive activity of collateral and exposure across asset classes. Collateral Velocity, Langley’s company, plans to change that by enhancing the collateral management functions of asset managers and banks to optimize the usage of available inventory across competing needs for funding and liquidity.

Both judges acknowledged that such a short pitch can be difficult — particularly when your concept is complex. In that situation, stories can help — a lot.

“If you can come up with a simple explanation, maybe an analogy that has nothing to do with financials, that’s going to get me engaged at the beginning,” Luedeman advised.

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