writes copy 05 Sep 2018

Googles Launchpad Studio accelerator welcomes a cohort of blockchain and finance startups

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Google has inducted a new class of startups into the Launchpad Studio accelerator it inaugurated last year; the first group was focused on gleaning new insights from medical data, and this one is about shaking up established financial markets and systems.

Some of the companies are well-known, established businesses '” but this isn’t the usual type of accelerator that aims to take a fledgling business and bring it to market. Instead, Google supports the selected companies in the development of a project, generally involving applying machine learning to the space they operate in. They call Studio a “product acceleration program.” (There are regular accelerators under the Launchpad brand as well.)

This year the companies are all more or less in the financial space, offering banking, identity verification, and retail services in locales around the world. Here’s the list, with Google’s descriptions of each:

  • Alchemy (USA), bridging blockchain and the real world

  • Axinan (Singapore), providing smart insurance for the digital economy

  • Aye Finance (India), transforming financing in India

  • Celo (USA), increasing financial inclusion through a mobile-first cryptocurrency

  • Frontier Car Group (Germany), investing in the transformation of used-car marketplaces

  • Go-Jek (Indonesia), improving the welfare and livelihoods of informal sectors

  • GuiaBolso (Brazil), improving the financial lives of Brazilians

  • Inclusive (Ghana), verifying identities across Africa

  • m.Paani (India), (em)powering local retailers and the next billion users in India

  • Robinhood (USA), democratizing access to financial market

  • Starling Bank (UK), improving financial health with a 100% mobile-only bank

As you can see it’s quite an international group. But different areas have different opportunities and talents. Inclusive, for instance, emerged in Africa from the difficulty there in finding and verifying identity documents. I talked with the company’s founder, Paul Damalie, earlier this year.

It’s easy to imagine what interesting patterns or helpful knowledge might emerge from a careful analysis of millions of data points tied to demographics, locations, financial situations, and so on.

Robinhood’s popular stock-trading platform is hardly in need of rescue by Google’s resident experts and mentors, but again the data it has access to is the interesting part. Why not collaborate with those experts to create new product ideas or studies?

Google provides cloud computing resources, access to its stable of tame ML researchers, and continuing support after the 4-month period is over.

Congrats to the startups selected for the program; we’ll keep our ears open for whatever products emerge from their work.

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