A new venture capital firm focused on funding technology companies catering to the growing underbanked population has made its first investment, in GoalSpring Financial Inc., a San Francisco startup marketing an online debt management program.
Core Innovation Capital I LP invested less than $1 million in GoalSpring, whose DebtGoal service lets users import credit card and other loan balances and create a monthly plan for paying them down, according to Arjan Schutte, managing partner of the New York investment firm.
"It's a tremendous problem for a lot of people, especially for more vulnerable and underserved people," Schutte said in an interview Thursday. "We went looking for solutions that could help people address that problem and in basically a technology-centric fashion that could scale to millions of users fairly easily."
The venture capital firms Tugboat Ventures and New Cycle Capital also joined the funding round with Core Innovation, he said. Schutte and Scott Crawford, GoalSpring's chief executive, would not specify the size of each investment.
Core Innovation was started last year out of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a Chicago nonprofit organization that promotes services for unbanked and underbanked consumers. It completed its capital-raising activities in March, reaching $30 million in funding commitments from about a dozen investors, including the center, Schutte said.
Others include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a large retail bank, a life insurance and asset management firm and a publicly traded consumer finance company that Schutte declined to name.
The fund plans to invest in companies developing technology and services that are geared toward the unbanked and underbanked market, a segment that Schutte said has grown as a result of the recession and actions by mainstream banks that have made more traditional financial products more expensive for these consumers.
"One of the reasons so many people are falling out of traditional banking … is excessive consumer debt," Crawford said. "They're going to have to deal with their consumer debt problem. That's one of the key intersections for us and Core is how do we help that segment of the population."