AlleyWatch covered this fintech startup just back in March when it completed a successful strategic investment round, but Even Financial is at it again. This time it raised $18.8M in a successful Series A round. A few of this round’s investors were originally clients who decided to buy-in because of Even’s powerful platform. Its API is the trusted intermediary between banks and third parties, and its machine learning backed recommendation engine and acquisition platform enables comprehensive search/comparison/ recommendation for financial products.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO and founder Phillip Rosen about Even’s rapid growth and Series A round, which brings the total amount raised to $25M over four rounds for this three-year-old startup.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $18.8M in Series A funding led by GreatPoint Ventures. The round includes participation from Goldman Sachs, Canaan Partners, F-Prime Capital, Lerer Hippeau and notable investors, including NerdWallet cofounder Jacob Gibson and Jason Owen the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Credit.com. The Series A financing includes a previously announced investment of $3.3M secured in January from American Express Ventures, Arab Angels, Plug and Play Ventures, and Valuestream Ventures. The Series A comes after a $6.2M seed round, totaling $25M in funding for Even to date.
There was a lot of momentum leading into and on the back of that. We’ve expanded our partnership with Credit.com to now power their entire personal loans marketplace. We’ve doubled in size and moved to a new office. We’ve continued to perform phenomenally for our partners and have continuously proven to lower cost of acquisition for financial institutions and increase monetization for our channel partners. We’re eager to continue to capitalize on this rapid growth we’ve achieved.
Tell us about the product or service that Even Financial offers.
Even is evolving the consumer financial services ecosystem with our leading recommendation engine and acquisition platform. We fill a gap connecting people with financial institutions, providing machine learning backed product recommendations in real-time when and where they need it, and facilitating an on-demand and personalized customer acquisition experience across the entire financial services ecosystem.
This takes the entire space from the archaic static ads of the past to a real modern networked marketplace.
The Even platform serves as a trusted intermediary for financial institutions – including Prosper, Lending Club and Marcus by Goldman Sachs – that helps find consumers and distribute their products digitally. Even’s industry-leading search and comparison, and recommendation API is an infrastructure layer that enables a wide range of diverse “channel partners” – including Credit.com, Transunion, Money Under 30, Credit Sesame and The Penny Hoarder – to power comprehensive personal finance websites, mobile apps and other offerings.
What inspired you to start Even Financial?
I launched Even with the goal of filling the gaps that I identified in traditional financial products and services acquisition ecosystem. Prior to launching Even, I cofounded Orchard Platform, an institutional investment platform for P2P and online lending. It was during my time at Orchard that I saw inefficiencies in the financial products and services acquisition ecosystem and grew passionate about addressing them. I founded Even with a number of investors from Orchard among others.
How is Even Financial different?
We have a technology-first founding team. We are focused on the infrastructure that connects financial institutions, channel partners, and people with real-time personalized offers. That infrastructure removes the inefficiencies found in traditional financial product and services acquisition, enabling financial institutions to scale their channel/affiliate programs as well as lower cost of acquisition. It enables channel partners to build a more comprehensive, trusted offering and increase monetization while providing the best end-user financial products/services search, comparison, and recommendation experience.
We liken it to travel search, which evolved from static ads and shady agents to the current generation of embedded real-time results in search engines like Google and comprehensive search/comparison/recommendation sites like Kayak and Travelocity.
We are not a portal and we are not a walled garden; we are building a transparent, trusted, intermediary network to facilitate this. Our work to date and latest round demonstrates the literal buy-in we’re getting from major financial institutions, channel partners, and the biggest institutional investors in the space – a number of our partners have become investors, like Goldman Sachs and Credit.com.
What market does Even Financial target and how big is it?
There are two sides to our platform. The “demand side”, where we work with financial service institutions, like banks and financial services providers such as Prosper and Lending Club. On the “supply side”, we work with channel partners, which can be personal financial management apps, like Empower, publishers, like Credit.com, Investopedia, Credit Sesame and SmartAsset, as well as point-of-sale, call centers and really almost any other touchpoint you can think of. Wherever a consumer may need a financial product – a large purchase, debt consolidation, a better savings account – we want to be there with a comprehensive set of offers they can compare and qualify for.
What’s your business model?
We are a B2B / B2B2C platform – we’re infrastructure to facilitate consumer acquisition for financial institutions in an omnichannel banking world, and we provide the API for channel partners to build the next generation of financial websites, apps, and services on top of.
We monetize our platform in two different ways:
- Financial institutions pay us for the new accounts we’re generating. We collect the fee and share it with our channel partners that are integrating our platform to monetize.
- We charge fees for various products that our platform offers to financial institutions, including our industry-leading insights to evaluate performance, controls for compliance at scale, and machine learning that is proven to be a lower cost of acquisition.
What was the funding process like?
It’s been a very exciting process and really fulfilling to see the company grow to a point where some of the country’s largest financial institutions want to partner with us. We’re humbled by the names like Goldman Sachs, American Express and Jacob Gibson, the co-founder of Nerdwallet, that invested in us.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Raising is always an intensive process. When you’re dealing with banks, especially multiple banks, there is an extreme level of diligence involved. However, once that process concludes and we are able to announce, that diligence obviously validates our company and our business in an extraordinary way.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Particularly with GreatPoint Ventures, our common ground really made us a good fit. GreatPoint Ventures has an extensive background in networks and database technology and, fundamentally, Even is engineering a digital network that connects consumers with financial institutions. As mentioned, some of our investors are existing partners, so that is also another testament to the quality of what we´re doing.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are expanding the success we’ve found with our core personal loans API across other verticals, including savings accounts, credit cards, and mortgages. These are all either being tested or beginning to scale.
Additionally, we are also developing a SaaS component to give the financial institutions more depth managing this new kind of programmatic customer acquisition – providing them with holistic transparent views of the data, as well as controls for risk mitigation and automated compliance at scale across hundreds of channels.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Go get some, or don’t. Not every startup will benefit from VC money. If you are pursuing it, make sure you have your house in order when it comes to metrics.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Our objective is to bring real-time decisions and digital account onboarding for any financial service product that was traditionally delivered in person by a bank branch or via antiquated static ads, into our API to facilitate omnichannel acquisition.
We’re ready to capitalize on the rapid growth we’ve achieved and engineered the infrastructure that will mature the online financial services search, comparison, and recommendation experience.
What is your favorite restaurant?
I’m a big fan of a nice sushi dinner in the city.