Compared to the glut of young tech startups that have popped up in the financial services space over the last several years, Yodlee is a veteran. Founded in 1999, the company got its start by developing technology to make the back-end aggregation of banking data more efficient and secure, leading to the birth of companies like Mint.com, which went on to be acquired by Intuit. Now, with more than 40 million users and $100 million in funding, the financial apps and management solutions provider has turned its focus back to the startup ecosystem.
Last summer, Yodlee announced a new accelerator program that aimed to provide entrepreneurs both in and outside of the financial services space with a delivery system to help them more quickly and easily bring their fledgling ideas to market. Powered by Yodlee’s financial services platform, the accelerator program provides startups with — among other things — access to its API, which enables founders to pull in Yodlee’s reservoir of transaction-level financial data for everything from bank accounts, insurance and rewards programs to investment accounts.
Since then, a slew of companies have used Yodlee’s financial cloud and accelerator resources to build a range of applications focused on consumer debt protection, lending, taxes, eWallets and targeted marketing — to name a few. Today, the company is peeling back the curtain a bit to give TechCrunch a peek into the program’s performance over the last 10 months.
Since launching, Yodlee Interactive (the arm of Yodlee’s business that contains its accelerator program) has attracted companies like Xero, Credit Karma and LearnVest, which are now relying on the company for secure access to financial data. As a whole, Yodlee Interactive is now servicing millions of consumers, along with more than 300 companies (and their applications), a number Yodlee expects to grow to 500 by the end of 2013.
Yodlee Chief Strategy and Development Officer Joseph Polverari tells us that, over the last year, the company has begun to expand aggressively into international markets, with 20 percent of its customer base now located outside the U.S. Yodlee is also now powering what he says are two of the fastest-growing startups to come out of this year’s Finovate Europe conference, EZBOB and FreeAgent — and the U.K.’s top financial app, OnTrees, is also on board.
Behind the expansion of its international footprint, Yodlee is also today announcing a new class of startups that will be entering into its API incubator program: FairLoan, Glyph, Planwise and Prime Student Loan. The accelerator has incubated 10 companies to date, six of which have already launched, including Glyph, Planwise, FairLoan, Prime Student Loan, Sociogramics and MatchFund. The other four are still in stealth mode, and the accelerator typically averages two incubations per quarter, Polverari tells us.
Of its recent incubations, Glyph and Planwise have found the most traction thus far, he says, with Glyph recently launching version 2.0 of its app, which TechCrunch covered last year and integrates account balance and data through Yodlee.
The companies selected by Yodlee do not offer up equity and do not have to pay to participate in the accelerator, which the CSO thinks gives Yodlee a leg-up amidst the glut of accelerators to launch over the last two years. In addition, entrepreneurs are given full access to Yodlee’s API for six months for free, as well as PR support, mentorship and strategic planning. But what founders have found most appealing, Polverari says, is the access that Yodlee provides to bank distribution for their services — the 40 million-plus users at some of the world’s largest banks.
For developers in financial services, overcoming the legal, regulatory and security hurdles is a tall order that often equates to a multi-year process. Yodlee wants to help take that barrier out of the equation for fledgling financial services startups. On rare occasions, the CSO adds, Yodlee may invest capital in its incubations, but only at the prevailing valuation; “We don’t act like a VC or the typical incubator,” he says, “our interest is solely in facilitating innovation and the growth of the ecosystem.”
It’s not all philanthropic, of course, as Yodlee isn’t without self-interest; if it happens to pick a winner, that’s good for Yodlee’s business. Its incubations can become a great source of future partnerships. For startups, because Yodlee does not provide a public API (only a private, paid API), this means access to Yodlee’s relationships with banks and its financial services ecosystem.
The incubator accepts applications on a quarterly basis, with the next due date being March 29th, with final decisions to be made by mid-April. After that the next decisions will be made in June and announced in July. The accelerator doesn’t have strict application guidelines, Polverari says, and does not limit its startups to the FinTech-focused, instead considering a startup’s vision and stage of development to determine if it’s the right fit.
Officially, the program mentors its selected companies for six months, but tries to maintain its relationships for as long as possible — when those aforementioned partnership opportunities are most appealing, of course. Yodlee has also partnered with external incubators like Y Combinator and Techstars, offering their incubations a similar deal, meaning free use of its APIs for six months — but without the same level of mentorship and strategic planning. The program has helped accelerate 12 companies from external incubators by offering them the free API, including companies from YC, TechStars, 500 Startups, and Harvard University (like InDinero and ReadyForZero, to name two), the CSO says.
Below, you’ll find a bit more on the four latest additions to Yodlee’s accelerator:
FairLoan was founded to bring transparent, affordable and fair credit opportunities to the over 70 million Americans with limited access to credit.
Glyph recently launched its brand-new web app and updated iOS app, which provide smart spending recommendations in order to maximize credit card rewards and improve a user’s overall credit score.
Planwise offers an app that lets consumers see visualizations of their financial outlooks, to determine how spending decisions affect the present and future, and allows them to ultimately take control of their finances and save money.
Prime Student Loan focuses on refinancing existing student loan debt for qualified borrowers to pursue its goal of bringing fair and logical credit diligence to the student loan market.
For more information, check out Yodlee’s Developers and Alliances page here.