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BMO Harris Bank and 1871 announced the three winners from the BMO Harris/1871 Innovation Program. This three-month mentorship program, which launched in March 2019, is focused on mentoring startups that have created services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers, or help identify customers' banking needs. This was the first year the program was opened to startups nationwide.
Entrepreneurs from across the country brought their cutting-edge technology and ideas forward to see if they were a good fit for BMO's ongoing focus to deliver exceptional experiences to customers across all channels, including digital. The seven finalists worked with BMO experts, had access to a working space at 1871, contended to win cash prizes and – for the first time this year – were able to pitch to venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections, and funding.
The program concluded with pitches from each startup to a panel of BMO leaders who acted as judges. The winners received $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for first, second and third place, respectively. The winners are:
1. Holberg Financial: A financial health and wellness benefit that helps employees reduce financial stress and increase productivity
2. XSELL: A leading-edge Augmented Intelligence and digital engagement platform that helps companies effectively answer customer inquiries and make personalized recommendations.
3. Manifest: Helps make 401K transfers for employees of companies seamless by using their front-facing UI.
"The goal of this program is to help drive customer value and to advance BMO's digital capabilities, and this year's winners are further evidence of that," said Huge McKee Head of BMO Partners, BMO Financial Group. "Expanding applications nationwide brought a new level of innovation to the program, and having the continued leadership of 1871 was critical to our success."
"We were thrilled to partner with BMO Harris to take the Innovation Mentorship Program nationwide this year," said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. "Extraordinary innovation occurs when startups and major corporations sit on the same side of the table. The astounding pitches at the program's close showcased how access to the right resources, mentorships, and investors provided the participating founders with all the tools they need to thrive."