Ohio investors want to accelerate ‘fintech’ start-ups

With the backing of some Ohio blue-chip companies, a business accelerator is being launched with an eye on bringing forward promising start-ups in the financial technology sector.

KeyBank, Progressive, Kroger Co., Grange Insurance, Huntington, FifthThird, First Federal Lakewood, Root Insurance, and Safelite are among the companies behind “Fintech71”, the new accelerator, whose name organizers say is nod to Interstate 71, which links Ohio’s trio of “C” cities — Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

Matt Armstead, executive director for the Columbus-based accelerator, said the outfit seeks start-ups in banking, insurance, payments as well as big data and artificial intelligence where relevant.

The statewide imitative is non-profit and open to companies and technologies from around the world. It is not an Ohio Third Frontier Commission-backed ESP (Entrepreneurial Services Program).

“We are meant to be an additive to the existing ESP models that exist,” Armstead said. “Moreover, partnering with angel investors, VCs (venture capitalists) and others have reciprocal value for all parties.”

A group of investors based in Columbus running its own accelerator program, Lumos, will run FinTech71 day to day, while JobsOhio will provide support, the organization said.

Applications to be one of the first dozen or so companies selected for investment and guidance will be taken May 15, with the process closing two months later. That first cohort of companies will start Sept. 10, being based in Columbus, FinTech71 said.

The application process will happen all online at

“We will spend several weeks selecting companies, notifying them and then the actual cohort of up to 12 companies will start,” Armstead said.

Each finalist team will get a stipend of $100,000, with “access to some of the country’s best millennial talent, and an attractive cost of living,” Fintech71 said in a release.

Any “fintech-related innovations ready for commercialization” are encouraged to apply, the organization said. International companies are welcome and visa support will be provided for “outstanding candidates.”

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