Welcome Tech Raises Another $30M for its Digital Banking and Services Platform for Immigrants
Apr 21, 2022
One of the biggest challenges for immigrants new to the country is getting established in their new home countries. Often, because of language barriers, getting local services proves difficult. Welcome Tech is a digital services platform that connects immigrants with a host of tools and offerings in order for them to access key services. At its core, the company offers a digital banking and mobile wallet solution that improves access to banking services with no maintenance fees. Through its consumer hub, SABEResPODER, which translates to “Knowledge is Power”, Welcome Tech also offers discounted healthcare options, automobile insurance, and prescription benefits. The company is seeing impressive user growth with over 1M downloads for the banking app, providing resources for close to 4M individuals, an increase of a million users since the company’s Series B last year
LA TechWatch caught up with Welcome Tech Cofounder, CEO, and President Amir Hemmat to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise? Following our oversubscribed $35M Series B in April 2021, this $30M was raised exclusively from existing institutional investors ahead of our Series C and brings the total capital raised to date to $70M. The participating investors include TTV Capital, Owl Ventures, SoftBank Group Corp’s SB Opportunity Fund, Mubadala Capital, and Next Play Capital. Tell us about your product or service. Welcome Tech is the first digital platform to provide the global, multigenerational immigrant community with culturally relevant resources to thrive in a new country. Our unparalleled first-party data and proprietary technology inform affordable, fair, and custom solutions across key services including banking, credit, payments, healthcare, education, and more. Welcome Tech’s platform provides unique resources to our nearly four million users. We have a consumer-friendly, mobile digital wallet and bilingual mobile app, which enables easy financial management. Our digital wallet includes a fee-free bank account with no monthly maintenance fees, minimums or overdrafts. A free debit card is included with the bank account, as well as access to more than 19,000 free in-network ATMs. All funds in the accounts are FDIC insured. Along with financial services, our data shows that healthcare-related concerns are paramount, hence, our initial focus through the subscription is access to health services. With our subscription offerings, users pay a minimum monthly fee for themselves and their families, to secure medical services that are essential, affordable, and easily accessible from their mobile devices. These services run the gamut from medical, dental, vision, and lab-related, to pharmaceutical discounts. By leading our offerings with the areas that can make the greatest impact to the immigrant community, we both serve and empower immigrant communities. And they, in turn, empower our country. What inspired the start of Welcome Tech? My cofounder and I are both children of first-generation immigrant parents so much of our lives have been informed by the first-generation perspective and immigrant household experience. We also spent the last 20 years of our careers working with immigrant communities in the U.S. and our previous business was an educational platform for U.S. immigrants. The necessities of immigrant communities have largely remained consistent since our nation’s inception, and one thing that shows clearly in the data as well as in conversations with immigrants, is that better financial services and acumen are foundational to the immigrant journey. Having your financial house in order is fundamental to success in other areas of life and key to empowering this consumer cohort. This is a starting point for additional custom and personalized services we are building for this community to ensure access to previously elusive opportunities and to propel this consumer sector, and our society, forward. How is it different? We are the first company attempting to build the future of immigration. We see the opportunity through the lens of building a strong operating system for immigrants. This is very different from fintechs because we engage and connect with our community through delivering value across many needs of the consumer, not just the financial aspect. That is our mission as a company. We provide our consumers with the full support of an entire community tailored to their needs including assistance, information, education resources, as well as opportunities to earn extra income. Our company recognized the opportunity to build trust from the start. We have focused on developing a community of users, providing education and valuable resources to establish regular interactions with our members to generate data that informs our product roadmap. Based on this user feedback we have been able to provide consumers with a plethora of products and services aimed at achieving two objectives: facilitating access and empowering community members with custom experiences that meet their needs. With nearly four million users today, Welcome Tech has more insights for customization than anyone else in the market, and best serves its members, with linguistic and cultural relevance. No other provider is servicing this consumer with the trust, customization, and scale that Welcome Tech is. What market are you targeting and how big is it? Welcome Tech’s services have been built from the ground up with the multi-generational immigrant household in mind. The largest immigrant market in the world is the Hispanic immigrant market in the U.S. so we know we need to focus with the intention to scale our technology, services, and brand to additional communities. Alone, Hispanics represent the most sizable minority cohort in the U.S., with a population of 62.8 million (Claritas 2020) and buying power of $2 trillion. We launched our bilingual mobile app to better reflect the household this consumer has. To access our digital wallet, consumers don’t need to have a social security number and there are no maintenance fees to ensure that the financial gains from our virtual solution are passed on to the consumer, and more importantly, drive financial inclusion from day one. This solution has been a game-changer for Hispanic immigrants, and the success we have seen with this cohort will allow us to serve all immigrants who struggle to navigate the challenging experience of big banks and other mainstream financial options. What’s your business model? We want to be the first business focused on this consumer that is thinking about creating value rather than extracting value. Our business model is similar to a Costco or Amazon Prime in the way that we have built a membership community that creates buying power and opportunity for the consumer we serve better than anyone else in the market. What are your post-COVID office plans? Our office has been set up from the start as a remote environment with the option of a hybrid schedule for those who live in the LA area. We have employees located around the country and around the world so having to switch to a full remote setting was not an issue at all. In terms of our interaction with our users, we are now able to go back into the consulates and help our community in person with any issues they confront in accessing services or questions about resources. Additionally, we are able to again host in-person community workshops, educational activities, and other initiatives that were moved to a virtual environment through the pandemic. What was the funding process like? We have an incredible group of partners at this stage of our business, so it was rewarding to have all our institutional partners double down given the tremendous growth we delivered. Over the past 12 months, we have been one of the fastest-growing consumer tech companies in the country, so this made for a very efficient process. We have an incredible group of partners at this stage of our business, so it was rewarding to have all our institutional partners double down given the tremendous growth we delivered. Over the past 12 months, we have been one of the fastest-growing consumer tech companies in the country, so this made for a very efficient process. What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital? This last capital funding was raised among our current investors. We are fortunate to have world-class investors with funding that scales as partners on this journey. They know our company well, they see the work we put together and more importantly, they appreciate the value that Welcome Tech has brought to the immigrant community. This investment is a recognition that they see us as the market leader, believe in our vision and understand that we are developing a massive platform that has endless opportunities for scale. What factors about your business led your investors to write the check? The immigrant population in the U.S. continues to rapidly grow and has been ignored by many. We’ve decided to close the gap and to serve them well with unparalleled services, for starters. The Hispanic market as a whole has buying power hovering just under $2 trillion. Our investors recognize and appreciate this sector’s value, our financial solutions, and our mission to harness technology to propel immigrant success. Finally, our history mattered. Before even jumping into building a fintech company, we did a lot of work. We spent years developing an understanding of this audience, including building trust within the demographic while at the same time, producing relevant, in-language, targeted educational content. This serves as a really great backbone to build a company that is very well-suited to serve this audience and to roll out things like banking services offerings. What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months? The path ahead of us is all about growth…growth of our user base, growth of our team and growth of our product offerings. This year we are launching several new products to better serve our customers and mission. This includes growing the services we provide through our digital wallet to include remittance, bill pay and credit as well as more free and discounted services that will be available through our growing subscription program. What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank? Focus and believe are the two core words I live by. Focus on your mission and goal, with an end game to make a positive impact on the world, on the community around you, and on those less fortunate. Believe in yourself, your business and your team members as this will become evident throughout the journey. Finding the right investors can take time and I would stress to go slow, talk to as many as possible to ensure you are aligning your vision with theirs, that they are fully supportive of your plans, growth, and company values. Focus and believe are the two core words I live by. Focus on your mission and goal, with an end game to make a positive impact on the world, on the community around you, and on those less fortunate. Believe in yourself, your business and your team members as this will become evident throughout the journey. Finding the right investors can take time and I would stress to go slow, talk to as many as possible to ensure you are aligning your vision with theirs, that they are fully supportive of your plans, growth, and company values. Where do you see the company going now over the near term? Beyond our new product launches and subscription service expansion mentioned earlier, our near-term goals are about growing our team and delivering an outstanding consumer experience. We have strengthened our team by hiring superb talent. We are attracting outstanding professionals in all areas of our company. In today’s hot tech market great talent has the option of working anywhere else but choose to work at Welcome Tech for the mission and impact we are making. We recently hired our first CMO, Brooke Norton Lais, who brings to our team the experience of building a trusted global brand for scale, deep fintech experience, and an emphasis on customer insights and analytics. She is working on major advancements for scale with our overall marketing strategy. What is your favorite restaurant in LA? So many great options around our amazing city…lately I’ve been enjoying a meal at Sunday Gravy on my way to cheer on the LA Rams at an occasional game. You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in LA Tech!