Author: Gregg Schoenberg

Nyca Partners’ Hans Morris hunts for great fintech investments amid volatility

Hans Morris is a name to know in fintech, and as finance and tech sectors prepare for tougher time next year, he has some incisive thoughts to share about the kinds of companies that will succeed (or not) in a financial downturn. The managing partner of investment firm Nyca Partners, Morris also serves as the chairman of the board of Lending Club and is a director of other start-ups including AvidXchange, Boomtown, Payoneer and SigFig. At Nyca, which is on its third fund, Morris spends much of his time meeting with entrepreneurs focused on payments, credit models, digital advice...

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Wellness giant Life Time targets co-working, shopping malls for next act

Founded in 1990 by CEO Bahram Akradi, Minnesota-based Life Time used to be known as a premier health club that operated large gyms mainly in affluent suburbs in Midwestern and Southern states. Its success was memorialized in 2015 when two leading private equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital, led a $4-billion deal to take the company private. But rather than retire or move on to new challenges, Akradi chose to remain in his leadership post and continue to build the Life Time brand. Just a few years later, Life Time, which has always been profitable —...

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TransferWise keeps growing money transfers despite global turbulence

You don’t have to follow the financial technology industry or work with developers in faraway lands to know TransferWise, arguably the world’s leading peer-to-peer money-transferring startup. Thanks to its presence in over 70 countries, low-cost rates for moving money internationally and, of course, its famous “nothing to hide” PR campaign that featured its semi-naked employees running through the streets of London and New York, TransferWise has become one of the world’s most recognizable fintech brands. Along the way, the company helped to usher in the age of the rebel-fintech adolescent startup that could compete and win against dusty incumbents...

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Kindred’s robots help retailers handle fulfillment centers — and take on Amazon

Since taking the reins as chief executive of Kindred at the beginning of the year, Jim Liefer has been focused on commercializing his company’s autonomous robots. But unlike forward-projecting use-cases for robots that may (or may not) one day take over for human beings in a wide swath of functions, Kindred’s current robots are purpose-built for the floor of retail fulfillment centers. That puts Kindred in the middle of an interesting business question: Given rising consumer expectations associated with online ordering, can anyone match or beat Amazon when it comes to speed, accuracy and efficiency? With a background in...

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Charge card startup Brex aims for decacorn success

By now, Brex, the young startup that is trying to reinvent corporate credit and charge cards, is well-known in Silicon Valley. The tender age of the company’s co-founders, Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, the big-name backers, the $125 million Series C announced last month, the aggressive billboard advertising in San Francisco, and the company’s torrid growth have all contributed to the swirl of attention. But, of course, it was the valuation at the last round —which placed Brex into the fintech unicorn club — that tops the list. Recently, Brex offered up a new reason for chatter as it...

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Convene uses landlord partnership model to outclass WeWork

Recent reports that Softbank may take a majority stake in WeWork has added fuel to the already hot market for start-ups in the workspace and property tech sectors. One of the more compelling companies that stands to benefit from this trend is New York-based Convene. Started by co-founders Ryan Simonetti (CEO) and Chris Kelly (President), 500-person strong Convene has distinguished itself as a top-tier provider of meeting, event and flexible workspace offerings in its 21 locations. But unlike freelance-heavy WeWork and other co-working companies who cater to 1-10 person companies, Convene puts owners of Class A office buildings at...

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