What Makes NVP Labs Different from All Other Accelerator Programs? Part Two

Newark Venture Partners Labs executed a very successful Demo Day on June 27, with the six members of its cohort ready to aggressively take on the market and grow.

So how does NVP Labs do it? We asked the members of the 2018 class what, in their experience, set Newark Venture Partners apart. This is part two, and it features Vetty (New York), MoCaFi (Newark) and LendingFront (New York).

Here’s what we found out:

Vetty: Subrat Nayak, cofounder and CEO, and Mike Cerrone, cofounder and president

Photo: Subrat Nayak, cofounder of Vetty at Demo Day Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Subrat Nayak, cofounder of Vetty at Demo Day | Esther Surden

During his pitch, Nayak said that he had the experience to head this next-generation background-checking platform, having led product and strategy at the largest background-checking company in the world. “Currently, in the U.S., the employment verification market is $8 billion,” he told the audience. The total world market is more than $22 billion, he noted.

The problem is that fragmented and unstructured background data are found in over thousands of disparate websites and data bases. Putting them all together is a manual process that is done on a case-by-case basis that is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes inaccurate.

 “We are disrupting the market in two ways: by creating our own proprietary data sets” to take care of unstructured and fragmented data, and then by “providing an amazing customer and applicant experience,” Nayak said. He added that the company uses proprietary technology to scrape and mine thousands of websites and databases, and then to structure the data to remove errors such as false positives and duplicates. Then, “using our ID bots, we develop the identity of the individual.” Think of the report as a verified LinkedIn page, he suggested. “Currently, we are testing this profile on the Ethereum blockchain.” Nayak noted that the company can process verification checks twice as fast as the leading player in the industry.

How has NVP Labs helped the company?

“The support we received from the NVP Labs program was key as we developed our go-to-market strategy,” Ceronne told us. “The partners and support team opened all kinds of doors for us, making introductions and helping to negotiate partnerships that have set us on a path toward growth. Their guidance on our investor deck, which we used during Demo Day, was also instrumental, and ultimately helped us to raise some of our seed funding. The entire NVP experience helped to put Vetty on a successful trajectory, and having access to the greater NVP Newark network has been a valuable resource.”

 MoCaFi: Wole Coaxum, founder and CEO

Photo: Wole Coaxum, founder and CEO of MoCaFi, on Demo Day Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Wole Coaxum, founder and CEO of MoCaFi, on Demo Day | Esther Surden

Mobility Capital Finance, or MoCaFi, was built to provide communities that are financially underserved with products and services that “you and I take for granted,” Coaxum said on Demo Day. MoCaFi is a next-generation community bank. “We provide good bank accounts to people through a mobile device, and use our platform as a way to help people build their credit.”

 “And at the same time they’re building their credit, we have an opportunity to identify better lending solutions for people. … We do this at scale, we do this using data and we do this using analytics. And we are very unique in our approach,” Coaxum said. He noted that just because someone lives in a financial desert doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t spend money on financial services and products. “This community spends $90 billion dollars a year on fees for lending products that do not move them forward financially.”

How has NVP Labs helped the company?

“MoCaFi's engagement with Newark Venture Partners could not have come at a better time. NVPs commitment to excellence and willingness to get into the details of our business became a forcing mechanism for us to address some of the key strategic issues that we knew were important, but had not dealt with head-on,” Coaxum said. “Two examples come to mind: improving our customer user experience and challenging us about how we think about partnerships. In the case of improving customer experience, Allison Williams, director of the NVP program, encouraged us to work with a team from General Assembly and ask them to talk with our customers and give us feedback about their experience in our app. Based on those conversations, they came back with a new way for us to think about how customers on board within our app. We are implementing their recommendations, and will release a new version of our app in August that reflects [this work].”

“The second area that helped us make progress during the time with NVP was access to their various partners. Allison and Kevin Petry took the time to really understand our go-to-market strategy, and thought that our ability to solve issues for affordable-housing landlords and their tenants, plus other businesses that are looking to better serve their entire customer base was compelling. Consequently, the NVP team helped MoCaFi secure meetings with Prudential, Audible, TD Bank, Rutgers Business School, Senator Cory Booker's office, Mayor Ras Baraka's office and the Newark 2020 initiative. These efforts resulted in several deals that enable MoCaFi to lower the cost of banking services to our customer base and increase the financial literacy that we can offer people.

LendingFront: Jorge Sun, cofounder and CEO

Photo: Jorge Sun, cofounder and CEO of LendingFront on Demo Day Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Jorge Sun, cofounder and CEO of LendingFront on Demo Day | Esther Surden

“We are transforming how financial institutions lend to small businesses,” Sun told the group, noting that he and Dario Vergara, cofounder and CTO of LendingFront, had been part of the founding team for the startup On Deck Capital (New York), which originates small business loans online and is now public. “There we pioneered the use of technology, data automation, process automation to lend to small businesses more efficiently,” Sun said.

The founders are now developing a “next generation platform to help banks and credit unions take advantage of that type of technology.” Sun noted that banks and credit unions have a significant need for this because, while loans are now being originated on-line, traditional banks and credit unions “still force you to go to a bank branch and talk to a bank broker to apply for a small business loan.” Most banks use a process that is highly manual, and it costs the bank $2,500 for each loan, no matter the size. A $30,000 loan is unprofitable for the bank, so there is no incentive for them to lend to small businesses, he said. “We are providing a platform that optimizes small business lending so banks can deploy capital more efficiently. … The outcome of that is that you are taking costs of $2,500 down to $800.”

How has NVP Labs helped the company?

“NVP helped us improve how, as a company, we approach selling. We have developed a better way to qualify leads, and handle customer intros, demos and contract discussions. This will lead to more closed deals and greater revenue.”

[NVP Labs has extended its deadline for applications until Aug. 14.]

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