Over the last 10 years Portland has steadily defined itself as an impressive hub of the sweeping FinTech movement. Innovative technology has popped up left and right in the Pacific NW, inspiring the development of such companies as Vault, Giftango, and Simple Bank. These exact companies would foster the growth of even more exciting FinTech businesses in the area — Seedpay, Aspiration, and our very own Sila, just to name a few — and it became clear it was time to celebrate all that’s been happening in the industry.
On April 3rd the event, held at the new office for loyalty rewards app Bumped, gathered the area’s best and brightest to discuss how FinTech is changing the way people do business. It also gave Sila a chance to announce the official launch of its API platform, which is now available for developers to use.
Four panel discussions framed the day, each addressing the impact financial technology has had on the speakers’ industries, and were followed by Q&A sessions with the crowd.
Sila Co-Founder and CEO Shamir Karkal welcomed everyone to the event with a quick word on Portland’s role in FinTech, followed by Oregon Venture Fund General Partner Matt Compton’s keynote regarding venture investment in FinTech, and how talent in the region has spurred deal momentum.
Compton then moderated the first panel, The Investor’s Perspective, which featured Elisa La Cava, Senior Associate at Madrona Venture Group; Ryan Else, Managing Partner at Roadster Capital; Stephen Green, Director of Operations at PENSOLE; and Geoff Harris, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Flying Fish.
The group of investors held a very interesting conversation on how VCs are viewing the rise of blockchain and crypto-specific startups, and one attendee at the event remarked that “the VC panel was the most interesting, it felt like I learned a lot about how they view things and what they are interested in.”
Josh Reich, Co-Founder and former CEO at Simple, and Founder/Principal at i2pi, led the next panel discussion, Evolution of the Consumer Experience, which focused on how consumer involvement with banking and finance has changed, thanks to FinTech. This conversation was led by Seedpay Director of Community Development Amy Pearl; Acorns Managing Director Randy Fernando; Seed CXO Melissa Geyer; and Andy Van Oostrum, VP of North American Sales at Cognigy.
In between panels came a product demo from one of Sila’s first customers, Friendowment, and Founder Justin Thomasshared how Sila’s API is used for his business. This nicely set up the third panel, FinTech Product Innovation, a discussion on how FinTech products from companies such as Stripe have changed how products are built for any industry. Sila Co-Founder and CLO Angela Angelovska-Wilsonmoderated, and was joined by Mirador EVP and GM Trevor Dryer; Alloy Co-Founder and CRO Laura Spiekerman; and Acorns Senior Product Designer Ian Collins.
The last Finnovation PDX panel, Scaling a Fintech Company, was led by A Better Jones CEO Kasey Jonesand addressed how FinTech founders have adjusted their approach towards building and scaling a company. This panel included Bumped Founder and CEO David Nelsen; Aspiration Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Initiatives Alexandra Horigan; Tabrasa COO Kevin Simback; and Sila Co-Founder and COO Isaac Hines. Nelsen then wrapped up the day with a talk on his experience as founder of two different FinTech startups, and also as an investor in the space.
The celebration of both FinTech’s success in Portland and Sila’s beta launch continued well into the night, first with scrumptious drinks and snacks at the Portland City Grill, then an elegant dinner for the event’s speakers and organizers. Sila Co-Founder and CTO Alex Liptonnicely summarized the day, with added encouragement for people to check out the new Sila product:
“Finnovation PDX was a resounding success. I thoroughly enjoyed presentations throughout the day and was pleased to see so many members of the PDX startup community coming to the event. I hope some of them will become Sila’s customers in the near future.”
Hear all of the day’s fascinating discussions via the livestream that is now posted on Sila’s Facebook page.
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