Startup Roundup: Invessence and iSport360
Invessence: Invessence, a business-to-business fintech startup located in Chatham, has officially launched its white label digital adviser platform. The software is being used on the Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services (New York) platform under the name “$ymbil,” according to Jigar Vyas, Invessence cofounder and CEO.
The startup has been operating for three years, developing its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product under the radar in a hot area of fintech called “digital advice platforms for wealth management.”
The software helps broker dealers, asset managers and financial advisers launch their own digital adviser platforms, COO Michael Frank said. An end user can “in a matter of minutes” develop an online footprint by creating a personal profile, opening an account and targeting his or her investment goals, Vyas said in an interview.
“We created the solution as a white label, and then they [investment advisers] can offer it to their clients directly,” Vyas told NYTechWeekly.com. “Behind the scenes, we manage the software and the investment models. We also allow the asset managers to create their own investment models and incorporate those models into our technology so that both options are available.” In addition, Invessence works with its partnering companies to help them create their own unique solutions.
Vyas explained that each investment manager gets a client portal, which is a client-facing tool that lets the end user create a profile, make an investment and review the investment after the account is open. “We also provide an end user app that lets clients go on a mobile device and review the account.”
On the control center side, the adviser can review all accounts, segregate them, rebalance them and engage in other activities. “There is a lot of flexibility built into the system,” he noted.
Asked about the company’s “secret sauce” in this competitive space, Vyas said that Invessence differentiates itself because it lets investment advisers create their own footprints. Other competing companies offer an ETF-based solution, i.e., “a single solution.” Invessence calls its software “AdvisorCustom” because there is a degree of customization with each sale.
Vyas believes that the Invessence approach will resonate with advisers because “they have been crafting their investments for many years and have a track record. They can take that investment philosophy and embed it into our software and offer their unique solution.”
He added that the company is piloting an investment model with a firm in Singapore that’s very different from the one used by most U.S. firms. The Invessence platform enables firms to use their own models, rather than making them adopt another, unfamiliar model, he said.
iSport360. Ian Goldberg, founder and CEO of iSport360 (Manalapan), told us that he had received seed funding for his sports tech startup. Although he wouldn’t reveal the amount, he did say that the funding came from a collection of individuals who believed in his vision.
The iSport360 platform is solving a huge problem in youth sports, said Goldberg. The expectations of parents and coaches are not aligned. Both groups are so busy these days, they don’t have time to work together to create a productive feedback loop.
When it comes to education, parents and teachers work together through back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, tests and report cards, so the parents know how their kids are doing. But none of this exists in youth sports, he noted. “We have a lot of delusional parents.” However, parents want and need to know how their children are doing in this domain.
“What I’ve done is developed an app where parents and coaches can share goals and expectations [provided by the app] at the beginning of the season.” The app selects appropriate goals for a child depending on the child’s age, sex, and level of competition. “Then we give the parents and coaches an assessment tool to be completed during the season to see how the child is progressing towards those goals.” This gets the parents and coaches on the same page, so they’ll give the same advice to the kid from both sides of the field.
“I’m not saying that every parent wants their kid to make the travel team and the high school team, but every parent wants their kid to have fun and learn something. The two things go hand- in-hand. When kids are learning, they are enjoying the sport and they have fun. If they happen to have fun, they’ll pay attention more and do better,” said Goldberg. The tool takes about 90 seconds for coaches to complete. The assessments are for both soft and technical skills.
Goldberg noted that 50 percent of the money will go to product development. He said that he uses a lean software development approach, launching new features and improvements about every six weeks, so there is a constant feedback cycle.
The other half of the money will be used for marketing. “The product is pretty immature right now. I don’t expect it to catch on like wildfire and have 100,000 users right away. But what I do want to do is test out different marketing channels and different marketing approaches, so when I get to my next round of investment, I can say to those investors, ‘Social media is working or advertising is working,’” he said. “Sponsoring tournaments and doing guerilla marketing and having people on the streets to promote iSports360 … we are sticking our toes into the water in ten different marketing channels.” That way, said Goldberg, he’ll know what works when he’s ready to scale.