Home » Bank engagement startup Flourish Fi leans into concept of ‘banks aren’t going anywhere’
Bank engagement startup Flourish Fi leans

Bank engagement startup Flourish Fi leans into concept of ‘banks aren’t going anywhere’

by Ravi Sharma

Flourish Fi, a startup providing banking services to small- and medium-sized businesses, is one of the few startups that has successfully emerged from Silicon Valley’s ‘financial crisis’.

As with all Silicon Valley founders, CEO David Raein hopes to disrupt an industry and change the world in the process. However, this might prove more difficult than anticipated. Flourish Fi is entering a fiercely competitive space rather late due to social engineering by banks.

“Even when business owners have access to a bank or have a relationship with a certain bank, it is still difficult for them to get credit,” said Raein. “Banks own businesses’ data and then make decisions about whether to lend based on little bits of the information. This is why we use machine learning; it allows us to make better decisions than humans because we can see the entire context.”

Flourish Fi’s service is designed to increase a business’ overall financial health -– not just its credit –- by using machine learning to provide insights, manage risk and recommend changes. The company can use predictive and prescriptive analytics on behalf of the client to make improvements in areas like increasing sales, saving money, reducing costs and optimizing operations.

“We want to help entrepreneurs, who are business owners or sole proprietors and own their business, manage the workload and make sure they’re getting the financial output they need to be successful,” said Raein.

The company is based in San Francisco and already has a few clients. Many were referred by friends or other networks, including other startups in the area. The company has raised a seed round of funding from angel investors but has not gotten any attention from venture capital firms yet.

“We haven’t really talked to them [VCs],” said Raein. “We are looking to bring in more senior talent, so we can raise a larger fund. We want to be the type of company that raises a series A and is able to scale quickly. We want to be as big as possible by helping businesses as much as possible. We want to help businesses grow from $5 million or $10 million in revenue up.”

Flourish Fi was founded in early 2014, when Raein and Vijay Gandhi were working together at Stripe. The company is now staffed by four full-time employees, one from each of the founders, as well as part-time members and consultants. The team has grown steadily since it started to grow this year.

The startup has not been without its challenges so far in its relatively short lifespan.

According to Raein, the hardest part of bootstrapping as a startup has been finding enough information about the business. As startups are created to disrupt industries and change the world, it is not uncommon for these companies to be part of the industry they hope to help. Flourish Fi looks at credit as something essential but not necessarily revolutionary.

“Bank engagement has been a huge challenge because we know very little about the clients which initially presents a huge obstacle to us,” said Raein. “What we’ve tried to do is find out what else the entrepreneurs are doing on their own, which is the hardest part. If a bank engages with them, it’s one thing, but if they don’t have credit, it becomes a lot more difficult.”

This is where machine learning comes in. Machine learning will allow the startup to work with clients who may be hesitant to become clients for a variety of reasons including fear of getting rejected or being ignored.

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