(Participants in MetLife’s 2020 Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars class.)
MetLife (New York) has announced its third annual class of startups to participate in the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based innovation-focused investment firm. The Accelerator supports MetLife’s strategic approach to technology and innovation by working with external partners to simplify and create differentiated experiences for our customers. MetLife reports that this year’s class will focus on developing financial wellness and engagement solutions to help customers and families save money, tackle debt, stay healthy, care for seniors and children, and close the racial wealth gap.
The focus aims to address difficulties associated with personal finances, which are the No. 1 source of stress for employees. MetLife says that than four in 10 U.S. workers—roughly 50 million overall—say they are not financially healthy, according to the company’s 2020 Employee Benefit Trend Study.
“This year’s Digital Accelerator brings together a diverse cross-section of tech innovators and specialized financial wellness experts to respond to these needs,” comments Meredith Ryan-Reid, SVP, Financial Wellness & Engagement, MetLife. “These startups will focus on developing compelling employee-benefit solutions that can flex to each customer’s needs while addressing the broader impacts of a challenging socioeconomic climate.”
During the three-month, intensive Accelerator program, the startups will work closely with MetLife leaders and Techstars mentors to develop, experiment and scale capabilities with the potential to transform the insurance industry. To protect the health and safety of all participants during COVID-19, this year’s program will run in a largely virtual format. At the conclusion in December, each startup will pitch its solutions during a Digital Accelerator Demo Day.
The 10 Startups selected for this year’s class are developing and refining the following capabilities, according to MetLife:
- ChangEd (Chicago, Ill.) Accelerates repayment of debt at every stage of life (e.g., student loans, mortgages) to get borrowers out of debt sooner. ChangEd automates savings, payments and develops an intelligent debt repayment journey.
- Dot (New York, N.Y.): Mobile-first robot financial advisor delivering personalized recommendations helping people increase savings, optimize spending, and plan for retirement.
- FinGoal (Boulder, Colo.): Uses AI to analyze consumer behavior providing personalized, less expensive alternatives (e.g., a cup of coffee to insurance and everything in between).
- Holisticly (New York, N.Y.): Provides employees with a monthly wellness stipend to choose from a range of team-wide experiences and fitness and mental health solutions (e.g,, Calm, Audible, ClassPass, Headspace, and Peloton).
- InterGen Data (Plano, Texas): AI platform that predicts the likelihood of life-changing events so people can prepare for the moments that matter.
- Kinside (Los Angeles, Calif.): Connects employees to a network of 1M daycare and preschool spots, with pre-negotiated spaces and exclusive savings. Payments are made pre-tax via an application programming interface integration with flexible spending accounts and third-party administrators.
- LivNao (Sunnyvale, Calif.): Passively measures mental health for delivery of behavioral nudges to improve wellbeing.
- Mellow (Hong Kong): Resource for parents to teach kids, ages 6-18, how to build money habits and use digital payments across savings, spending and earnings.
- OfColor (Maplewood, N.J.): Provides content, banking tools, and AI advice built around how people of color save, spend, and build wealth.
- VillagePlan (Boston, Mass.): Provides on-demand experts and technology tools to help families care for aging loved ones.
The Digital Accelerator, a component of MetLife’s comprehensive innovation ecosystem, was designed to provide first-mover advantage on capabilities that address critical customer needs in the financial and insurance services sector. Other components of the ecosystem include:
- Relationships with 20 venture capital firms and collaborations with universities such as Carnegie Mellon, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the MIT Media Lab.
- Strategic partnerships with leading tech companies such as Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell, AT&T, Guidewire and others.
- MetLife’s “Ignition” program, an annual one-day innovation hunt in which 15 to 20 tech startups “speed date” more than 200 MetLife business leaders to connect startup capabilities with business requirements and priorities.
- Internal crowdsourced and facilitated innovation with employees around the globe.
MetLife describes its Financial Wellness and Engagement division as committed to helping people understand their options and confidently make progress in their financial lives.