The Best of FinovateSpring Day 1

3 min read • May 11, 2011 • Brad Hagan

As a Finovate first-timer, I had high expectations on Day 1.

I was not disappointed.

Starting from the sunrise outside of Chinatown, I made my way through the bike-crowded streets on the embarcadero to the Conference. There were 850 attendees that packed the house, and it was game on. Bring on the innovation in the Fin Tech Space.

As the presenters got going, more and more laptops and tablets were popping on the tables. I couldn’t help but wonder if people were paying attention, or just jumping on their e-mail. I found myself forgetting where I was while I would get in the zone on my laptop. Laptop closed, I focused in on some exciting presentations. Let me share my “Day 1 Likes” and why.

Morning Likes

Gold Bullion — They make acquiring physical precious metals as seamless as purchasing a stock or bond; an automated solution for physical precious metals (gold) for a wealth management platform.

Why? We’re talking about selling gold bars. How sexy is that? I mean think about it, they’re taking something everyone is aware of and making it easy. How many people actually buy gold or other physical precious metals? Not only can wealth management companies offer this to their clients, but now anyone can seamlessly purchase gold bars, physical gold bars. Every rapper in the building went wild when they heard this presentation. Word.

Kabbage — They provide working capital to online merchants (ebay and Amazon sellers) using marketplace data to quantify risk and quickly deliver cash to these sellers within minutes.

Why? What’s most important in judging someone’s risk of obtaining a loan? I think it’s genius to use a merchants marketplace data when assessing the risk. It’s taking something real to the industry, it’s making a smart decision rather than relying on over-arching applications filled with tons of info that might not be relevant. I love the profile building for the online merchant so they can really be in control of cash available to them.

Honorable Mention

Hoyos EyeLock — They claim to be the first and only, personal, mobile identification device to secure your personal info.

Why? An eye scanner that logs you on to your personal accounts online. Yes, an eye scanner. I don’t think I care, or worry, about identity theft as much as I should. So I’m not so interested in the reason it’s important as I am fascinated that a device reads your iris to log you in. That’s straight out of “Minority Report.” So do I think the masses are going to buy a $99 iris scanner to protect their identity? No. But was it cool to see someone log into their bank account and Facebook accounts with their eye? Yes.

Afternoon Likes

Kiboo — They empower teens and young adults to learn, earn, save, spend, and give through a mobile app.

Why? I think the key here is teens. I wouldn’t use something like this, and I wouldn’t ask my networks to help me buy a digital camera, but have you seen the way teens talk on Facebook? We’re not talking about sophisticated people here. I guarantee they’ll be asking their friends to help pay for a camera or other things. I thought the presentation was the most complex, well executed and entertaining.

Dwolla — They are an electronic cashed based eco-system that syncs with social networks, mobile phones, Web, and geo location based payments.

Why? First recognize the beard. It was legit. I loved the energy in this presentation. There are some hurdles to overcome for the masses to adopt (they need to get a lot of business to accept their payments), but our world is changing too fast, and credit cards have been around too long, and new payment methods are needed. We communicate and connect in different ways today, and this potentially is an awesome solution.

Honorable Mention

Nico the sign twirler.

Why? Kid had skills. He was part of the Bankons presentation and booth. He was in his own little world, like those Little Caesars guys on the side of the road we see every day. He was in the booth hall all afternoon just rocking his sign moves. Never got old.

Loved my first day at Finovate and I can’t wait for Day 2 to start. Some great companies will be on stage today.


Brad Hagan