20 Booming Wealthtech Startups In 2021

by Josh Howarth - May 26, 2021

With the rise of smartphones and finance apps over the last decade, wealthtech has exploded.

Today’s financial consumers expect seamless, smooth research and investing options from their smartphones.

In 2019, the wealthtech space stood at $1.5 trillion (measured by assets under management). Pitchbook projects that this space will balloon to $6 trillion by 2023.

Check out our list of the top wealthtech startups that are putting financial power in the pockets of people around the globe.

1. Acorns

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5-year search growth: 36%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: Irvine, CA

Funding: $207M (Series Unknown)

What they do: Acorns is one of the original players in the wealthtech space. The simple idea of allowing users to “round up” transactions to the nearest dollar and invest that money into a diversified fund helped push Acorns into the mainstream. Acorns has branched out into checking accounts, retirement accounts, and funds for kids that allow parents to plan and invest for their children inside a single platform.

2. Betterment

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5-year search growth: -29%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: NY, NY

Funding: $275M (Secondary Market)

What they do: Betterment was founded in 2008, making it the oldest on our list of wealthtech startups. With over $21B under management, it’s also one of the largest retirement account companies. That’s because they provide IRA, ROTH, and rollover 401(k) programs in the app. With a money management fee of .25%, Betterment has helped open up financial planning to everyday smartphone users, allowing a diversified selection of equity and bond choices for different age groups and risk tolerances.

3. Wealthfront

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5-year search growth: 12%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2008

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Funding: $204.5M (Series E)

What they do: Wealthfront is another of the “old guard” of wealthtech, providing a digital bank for smartphone-native users. Innovative features (like categories) can help users break up their accounts for different purposes, including saving for a house or paying off debt. Automating finances and optimizing for savings and investment with low fee diversified funds are other popular features inside of Wealthfront.

4. Robinhood

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5-year search growth: 1850%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Menlo Park, CA

Funding: $5.6B (Convertible Note)

What they do: Robinhood might be infamous for the new historic Gamestop saga, but the company is still a powerhouse and perhaps the most well-known of all wealthtech startups. In 2020 Robinhood powered $350B in transactions. Seen as the first mobile platform for stock trading and still boasting a sleek trading UI, Robinhood firmly established the smartphone as a stock trading platform. Another unique Robinhood quirk is their free stock giveaway, meaning new users who register with Robinhood get one free stock.

5. Cadre

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5-year search growth: 40%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $133.3M (Series C)

What they do: Similar to Fundrise and YieldStreet, Cadre gives mainstream investors the ability to build a customized commercial real estate portfolio. Because real estate is not highly correlated to stocks or bonds, Cadre argues that everyone should have exposure to the real estate asset class in one form or another. With a highly transparent digital platform that provides analytics and clarity on investments and low fees, Cadre’s popularity has skyrocketed as folks look to invest in real estate without the offline paperwork.

6. Stash

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5-year search growth: 103%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $427.4M (Series G)

What they do: Stash operates as a subscription service (ranging from $1 to $5/month) that provides comprehensive financial advice and the ability to purchase a wide range of equities and custom diversified funds in an easy-to-understand format. Stash’s fluid, seamless user experience, combined with quality descriptions around equities and ETFs, opens up the door for amateur investors to get started.

7. Upgrade

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5-year search growth: 33%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: San Francisco, CA

Funding: $222M (Series D)

What they do: Upgrade is a relatively straightforward wealthtech startup, providing clarity around personal loans and a streamlined process for approval. The Upgrade card is their unique value proposition, providing users with 1.5% cashback on all purchases while also allowing customers to pay down the monthly balance at a fixed rate with standard monthly payments. Basically, Upgrade combines the predictability of a loan with the flexibility of a credit card.

8. Altruist

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5-year search growth: 79%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Venice, CA

Funding: $58.5M (Series B)

What they do: Altruist is somewhat different from other wealthtech startups on this list, as they provide software to financial advisors (not consumers) that allow a 360-degree view of a client's financial health. Along with access to fractional shares and other tools designed to help manage their client’s portfolio. Compared to many competing options, Altruist’s software is relatively cheap. Which has helped the platform grow quickly.

9. Hippo

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5-year search growth: 5300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Funding: $709M (Convertible Note)

What they do: Hippo is a rarity in this top 20 list, as they’ve stuck with their bread and butter in homeowners insurance. Using machine learning and data algorithm processing, Hippo provides homeowners with customized homeowner insurance plans. They also sell complementary smart home devices for better detection and further data gathering.

10. Catch

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5-year search growth: 4200%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Boston, MA

Funding: $6.1M (Seed Round)

What they do: Catch is attempting to solve the massive problem around benefits for entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, and employees. As Catch describes it, they focus on four main areas: taxes, health insurance, retirement, and savings. Automatic withholding is one of their core products, allowing a single payment to the IRS and taking the pain out of accounting for paychecks and projects done over the course of a year. A customized “check-up” allows Catch to make personal recommendations and set users up with the benefit plan most applicable to their unique situation.

11. Vise

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2016

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $128M (Series C)

What they do: Vise allows financial advisors to harness AI to build customized, 1:1 portfolios that are unique to every client. Their secret sauce is a portfolio engine that constructs a financial profile and suggests investments based on a client’s situation. After that, Vise helps clients see the reason behind investments with insights and analytics so they understand the “why” behind the AI. How do they do it? Vise integrates with custodians and imports client data, which allows the digital platform to automatically handle the trading and management of assets.

12. SoFi

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5-year search growth: 10%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: San Francisco, CA

Funding: $3B (Venture Round)

What they do: SoFi has turned into a dominant player in the wealthtech space, starting out as an intelligent loan provider and branching into different products like investing, insurance, retirement accounts, and more. SoFi got its start for simplifying the student loan refinancing process and parlayed those learnings into MBA loans, house refinancing, and personal loans. Today, SoFi has transformed into a full-on financial institution offering every financial product imaginable with its trademark clean, simple digital platform.

13. MoneyLion

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5-year search growth
: 1075%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $227.5M (Series C)

What they do: MoneyLion has a wide range of personal finance features, from allowing customers to get their paycheck two days early to buying crypto. Add in a comprehensive financial tracking system that proactively makes recommendations for users, and MoneyLion’s full-service offering begins to take shape as a one-stop-shop for all things personal finance.

14. Root

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5-year search growth: 4100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Funding: $527.5M (Series E)

What they do: Root earned its fame for being one of the first “insurtech” companies to offer personalized, smart insurance coverage based on user behavior and data. Root’s ability to use smartphones to understand how a customer is driving allows them to offer extremely competitive auto insurance rates that are often far cheaper than traditional competitors.

15. StartEngine

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5-year search growth: 362%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2011

Location: West Hollywood, CA

Funding: $37.6M (Equity Crowdfunding)

What they do: StartEngine aims to open up the word of seed investing to the masses, and so far they’ve raised over $300M on their platform and provided investment to over 350 companies. In short, StartEngine is opening up a space that’s typically reserved for well-heeled Silicon Valley venture capital firms or professional angel investors.

16. Blockfi

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5-year search growth: 8900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Jersey City, NJ

Funding: $508.7M (Series D)

What they do: Blockfi is right in the middle of the red hot cryptocurrency space and serves as a non-bank lender where customers can take out loans using their crypto as collateral. One of the core products of Blockfi is their interest account, where users can earn a percentage on crypto held in Blockfi by simply leaving it there. They open up liquidity in the market through their seamless online platform that handles both crypto deposits and dollar withdrawals through a loan servicing company, Scratch. Blockfi recently created a Bitcoin rewards credit card in partnership with Visa and plans to continue to roll out new offerings to customers worldwide.

17. Wahed Invest

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5-year search growth: 3800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $40M (Venture Round)

What they do: Before Wahed, the Islamic investor didn’t have many options to turn to when it came to finding investments that were in line with Islam. Wahed Invest is centered around “Halal investing”. The Shari’ah board screens companies for a litany of criteria that are in line with Islam, and then allows the investor to select companies or a diversified fund of halal investments.

18. Fundrise

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5-year search growth: 136%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2010

Location: Washington D.C.

Funding: $55.5M (Equity Crowdfunding)

What they do: Fundrise is one of the leaders in the wealthtech trend of opening up commercial real estate investment to the average investor. Typically, commercial real estate was one of the most walled-off and exclusive asset classes to invest in. You either had to have connections to a large project or know certain individuals who would allow you to invest. Fundrise solves this problem by providing a platform where users can invest in commercial real estate projects.

19. YieldStreet

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5-year search growth: 160%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: NYC, NY

Funding: $178.5M (Series B)

What they do: If someone wanted to invest in alternative assets with low correlation to the stock market, usually you’d be out of luck unless you were an accredited investor. Enter YieldStreet. YieldStreet opens up other asset classes like fine art, commercial real estate, Marine Finance and more up to normal, everyday investors.

20. Gemini

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5-year search growth: 1000%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Gemini began with the need for a transparent, easy-to-use cryptocurrency exchange along with integrations to the banks most commonly used across the United States. Led by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame, Gemini is a complete platform for buying, storing, and earning interest in cryptocurrency. As of April 2021, Gemini has over $25B in cryptocurrency under custody. The success of the platform means that Gemini is now custodian for many crypto exchanges across the world, and features rigorous security that allows peace of mind to their users who hold crypto on Gemini.

Conclusion

Expect to hear more big things coming out of these wealthtech startups, as the millennial cohort continues to control more and more of the economy.

What’s similar about all of these innovative money management startups? They’re smooth, intuitive for the digitally native consumer, and feature sleek branding and a great user experience while being mobile-friendly.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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