By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Bryan Stave, co-founder of Investii, has always been a saver.
The importance of financial responsibility was instilled in him by his parents, and he has dedicated a percentage of his income to savings ever since he landed his first job at age 14.
Co-founder Nishant Deshpande is also an avid saver with a keen interest in financial markets. His interest became more personal when his bank rejected the 20-year-old Deshpande’s credit card application. Deshpande was shocked to learn his lack of credit history made him ineligible for the card, despite five years of regular deposits into his savings account at the bank.
Deshpande, at the time a student in the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Investment Management program, knew debt was not the only indicator of creditworthiness and began thinking about how personal finance was handled in the United States.
After college Deshpande landed a job at a major bank doing risk modeling for businesses seeking financing. He found the criteria applied to businesses to determine credit eligibility, like net profit margin and liquidity ratios, to be sounder than those applied to individuals.
These experiences stayed with him and influenced him to begin working on the problem of personal finance as an entrepreneurial opportunity. He was further motivated to create a solution for the problems he saw in the consumer finance industry when he discovered that 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
Stave and Deshpande began to work on the problem together. They wanted to address the needs of consumers by encouraging healthy saving habits while changing the way lenders evaluate creditworthiness. Together, they launched Investii. With Investii, the end users are the investors, and the investment is in their own financial wellbeing.
Founded in December 2020, Investii is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) product used by individuals to manage financial accounts. It differs from its field of competitors by encouraging the growth of wealth, rather than just reporting account balances. Based on the user’s checking account balances and average expenses, Investii suggests the amount of savings a user should set aside, and how much the user can afford to invest. The company incentivizes users for acting on the suggestions by providing tangible rewards, like cash back, for saving or investing within their means.
Additionally, Investii developed an algorithm to evaluate the financial circumstances of its users. The company uses that unique data to make recommendations to banks about a user’s ability to obtain credit and repay a loan.
The company’s revenue comes from user subscriptions and bank referrals. For now, Investii is focusing on selling the financial management tool to universities and businesses that are looking for a way to set their clients up for financial success. Partnerships not only allow the organizations opportunities to provide a platform that improves the quality of life for its clients, but also collect an unprecedented amount of de-identified data on the financial growth and development of the company’s end users. Stave anticipates that universities will finally have the opportunity to demonstrate with concrete data the return on investment of a college education by reviewing the targeted data generated by the product.
Stave knows technology has changed behavior in the past, and he is counting on Investii to do it again. With a growing number of lenders expressing interest in Investii’s calculation of financial fitness, the team of Wisconsinites sees an opportunity to make a systemic change in society.
The company aims to change more than the consumer finance industry. Investii hopes to be an example of what is possible in the Milwaukee startup ecosystem. In a region where it is notoriously difficult to raise funds, Investii wants to demonstrate that a successful fintech startup can come from Milwaukee, and that a profitable company can also do “social good.”
Stave reports the company has already raised “over $250,000” of capital in seed funding and plans to seek additional capital in the third quarter of 2022. Investii has cultivated professional relationships with an impressive list of fintech partners, including Chime, Acorns, and Robinhood, while working hard to bring business clients on board. Current users will soon have the opportunity to manage their accounts on smart devices; Investii anticipates its mobile app will be released in the next 60 days. The company is hoping these signs of growth will spur a strong investment round of fundraising before the close of the year.
To follow Investii’s progress on its mission “to help all Americans build strong financial habits, generational wealth, and alternative credit,” follow the company here.