Salt Lake City-based consumer fintech startup Soon has been accepted into the world’s leading startup accelerator Y Combinator to participate in the Winter 2022 cohort, which is happening now. He also soon received a $500,000 investment from the famous Silicon Valley Accelerator.
“Here’s the truth – every startup around the world applies to YC,” said Chris Lovato, co-founder and CEO of Soon. According to Lovato, this was the most competitive round of applications for YC in the accelerator’s history. “They have a lower acceptance rate than Harvard or Stanford. We had them [remote] interview [with YC], and they called later that night to say you’re in; Are you ready to accept?”
Chris Lovato, CEO at SoonFrom that call in late October, Lovato, along with co-founders Aaron Bylund (CMO) and Michael Shattuck (CTO), had to make a decision within an hour. The next morning, the trio began onboarding. The program officially started in January, but participants need to do extensive reading and preparation beforehand. The startup was also one of the first to receive investment under YC’s new terms, which made waves in the startup world at the announcement just weeks ago.
Previously covered in TechBuzz, Soon is a consumer fintech startup that helps users invest in a variety of asset classes such as stocks, ETFs, and indices. What sets the startup apart is its method. Many other apps “round up” the daily expenses and invest the difference. This “microbanking” model was popularized by Irvine California fintech Acorns ten years ago. Soon enables an “all-in” approach, allowing users to invest most or all of their account balance at the time of deposit. Expenses are then deducted from the most profitable investments in a portfolio, allowing more of the cash flow to go to work. It’s soon to be called “end-to-end” investment automation.
Y Combinator (YC), also previously covered by TechBuzz, has helped over 3,700 startups since its launch in 2005, including well-known names like Reddit, Airbnb, DoorDash, Instacart, Dropbox, Stripe, and Coinbase. Soon joins the ranks of the few Utah companies to join YC, including Weave, Podium, Pickle, BriteHR, SimpleCitizen (acquired in 2020), and Vidpresso (acquired by Facebook in 2018). A more complete list can be found on the YC website.
YC withdrew early in the pandemic, which opened the door for founders with families who may have been reluctant to uproot their entire family for a three-month stint in Silicon Valley.
According to Lovato, the program lived up to its claim of accelerating startup progress. “It is exactly what they advertise. They don’t joke around. I would say YC beat the perfectionism out of us. All three of us [cofounders] are perfectionists – who want to make sure everything is flawless. YC hammered it into us; Stop worrying about it and get feedback from users ASAP. It doesn’t matter what you [the founders] think and how perfect you think it is. That does not matter. What counts are the users.”
“They are changing the way you think and the way you do business. You’re really questioning your assumptions,” Lovato added.
This isn’t the first Silicon Valley validation for Soon. Just last April, the startup was admitted to TechCrunch’s annual early-stage pitch-off, “featuring 10 exceptional early-stage startups,” according to the TechCrunch website. Soon was the only startup from Utah to make the cut.
YC may have been drawn to the proven tenacity of Soon’s founders. The trio has been building Soon for no less than five years. For a consumer banking and investment app, the regulatory hurdles are lengthy and significant.
“One of the hardest things about FinTech is fixing partners,” says Lovato. “When we got to the interview we let them know that we signed with our bank that we signed with [Utah-based fintech infrastructure provider] Galileo and we have brokerage partners – all the partnerships needed to bring our product to market.”
All YC W22 startups will showcase their progress at Demo Day in March, an invitation-only event for qualified investors. Soon intends to launch its first product in the near future. Those interested in registering can visit Soon.app to join the early access waitlist.
Soon to be joined by Utah fintech startup Y Combinator with a $500,000 investment originally published on TechBuzz.news