Raise Financial selected for Barclays Rise Accelerator



Posted on September 26th, 2023

Raise Financial — a Nashville fintech startup that seeks to make long-term investing work in the modern age — was selected for Barclays’ New York 2023 Rise Accelerator.

The three month world class program is designed to fast-track fintech startups through unparalleled education, mentorship from Barclays’ esteemed experts, and access to the British bank’s prestigious network of investors and advisors.

Raise joins 20 other cutting-edge fintech companies from the U.K. and U.S. who are engineering solutions on everything from real estate to payment processing. The cohort companies were handpicked by a selection committee who reviewed more than 2,500 applications.

Worth $1.8 billion, the Barclays Accelerator is one of the largest bank-powered portfolios globally.

“We are humbled to grow alongside these innovative companies,” says Wesley Belden, the CEO and co-founder of Raise Financial. “This opportunity will be transformative.”

Belden began building Raise Financial in 2022, two years after he started his first fintech company, Scholar Raise — an online platform that enables parents to create 529 college savings plans that friends and family can easily contribute to via a simple shareable link. According to Belden, 529 accounts started with Raise have on average, ten times more gifted contributions than regular college savings accounts.

Scholar Raise’s success, or rather its clients, were the catalyst for Raise Financial.

“We listened to our customers,” said Belden. “They don’t want to save for just their children’s future but their own. We want to make traditional long-term investing accessible to millennials and GenZ. This accelerator will be instrumental in our execution.”

Scholar Raise, which remains active, renamed “Raise Education” will be folded into what Belden said will be a family of fintech products under Raise Financial. During the accelerator, Belden will work defining the model for Raise Investment — a platform that will allow individuals to reap the rewards of an early, large investment into a broad-based ETF via a flexible, monthly membership fee.

“Traditionally, the best way to build wealth has been through homeownership or investing in a lump sum into the stock market,” said Belden. “Here’s the problem: GenZ and millennials don’t have the money for either. The average millennial doesn’t have $1,000 in their bank account. It’s not because they are irresponsible, but wages haven’t kept up with inflation for nearly 40 years.”

Belden said under his current model, individuals will choose a monthly membership that fits their budget ranging from $25 to $600. Raise Investment will invest a lump sum proportional to their membership fee into a broad-based ETF on their behalf. For example, with a $150 membership, Raise would invest $30,000 on the person’s behalf.

The individual is entitled to all of the compounded returns that investment accrues when they exit. At that time, the initial investment will be returned to Raise. The membership fees are not refunded to the individual as that is the cost accessing the initial position with Raise.

“It’s symbiotic,” said Belden. “The individual gains an initial position in the market that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and Raise is guaranteed recurring revenue through the monthly membership.”

He will need a substantial amount of capital to get Raise off the ground, which is one of the reasons the New York native turned Nashville transplant applied.

All of the program participants will be eligible to receive funding from Rise Growth Investments — investment capital exclusively available to companies in Barclays' accelerator. £10 million, more than $11 million will be deployed. The startups will also be introduced to a host of investor heavyweights.

Since its inception in 2014, more than 150 startups from the U.S., England and India have graduated from the esteemed accelerator including most notably — Finch, a San-Francisco fintech company that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries operate e-commerce businesses. The company recently closed on a $40 million seed round.

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