Plaid is Launching an Incubator for Underrepresented Fintech Startup Founders

By Luigi Wewege Friday, January 22, 2021

Plaid, which builds a data transfer network for fintech and digital finance companies, is rolling out a nine-month incubator for fintech startup founders who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

Three Black female entrepreneurs having a meeting.

Business Helps Startups with Beta-Stage Products

The project is led by Plaid’s growth manager Nell Malone and design manager Bhargavi Kamakshivalli. The company aims to help three to five post-seed and pre-Series B fintech startups that have a beta-stage product.

To be eligible to apply, startups are required to have at least two employees and a founder. Also, a part of the startup’s business is supposed to be focused on consumer business finance data.

Since the company’s product aims to link consumer bank accounts with fintech applications, the incubator could be viewed as an extension of these integrations and whose primary objective is to help entrepreneurs launch their companies.

Founders accepted for the incubator will be mentored by Plaid officials, or in other words, an account manager who will help the startup with product insights. Startups will also be able to seek advice on bootcamp sessions. The project will last nine months, longer than a regular accelerator program, which usually lasts around three months.

“The three-day virtual bootcamp will be the most intensive part of the FinRise program,” Malone said. “After the workshop, participants will work with their dedicated account managers and have access to ongoing programming support structures…our goal is to provide ongoing support at every stage of our participant’s journey over the course of nine months.”

Plaid announced the incubator only a week after it said it would not merge with Visa due to regulatory challenges. The company’s deal with Visa was worth $5.3 billion, and it represents another case that indicates how the fintech sector continues to face more and more regulatory hurdles.

The incubator will include a three-day affair where startups will get advice on how they should deal with regulatory and legal issues in the industry. They will also discuss other topics, including information security, user-centric design, and engineering practices.

However, it appears that the main challenge for founders from underrepresented backgrounds is the lack of funding rather than access to mentorship. While the company itself is not providing any capital, it did pledge to introduce startups to a group of VC firms and accelerators.


Plaid is launching a nine-month-long incubator named FinRise for underrepresented startup founders who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

About the Author

Headshot for author Luigi Wewege

Luigi Wewege is the Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking at Caye International Bank. Outside of the bank, he serves as an Instructor at the FinTech School which provides online training courses on the latest technological and innovation developments within the financial services industry. Luigi is also the published author of: The Digital Banking Revolution.

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