Welcome Tech’s mission is to drive financial inclusion of immigrants moving to the United States. Now armed with $35 million in Series B funding, it will continue developing its ecosystem of financial tools and subscription services.
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The Los Angeles-based company was founded in 2010 by Amir Hemmat and Raul Lomeli as a digital platform providing immigrants and their multi-generational families with the ecosystem required to thrive in the U.S.
Both co-founders have a background in education and are part of first-generation immigrant families. They saw the difficulties family members had navigating financial services in the U.S. and wanted to establish a trusted resource for finance, health care and education. Its initial consumer-facing brand, SABEResPODER, meaning “Knowledge is Power,” provides educational resources to the Hispanic community.
“We are focused on connecting immigrants to resources they need,” Hemmat told Crunchbase News. “Given where data and technology are today, we’ve never seen any sort of digital ‘Ellis Island.’ We are building a better operating system that looks at an immigrant’s journey and connects them to financial services, as well as education.”
TTV Capital, Owl Ventures and SB Opportunity Fund co-led the Series B, which also included participation from Crosscut Ventures, Mubadala Capital, Next Play Capital and Owl Capital. The new raise gives Welcome Tech a total of $50 million of funding to date, according to Hemmat. This includes an $8 million Series A round in March 2020, led by Crosscut.
More than 44.9 million immigrants lived in the United States in 2019, with 50 percent entering after 2000, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The average Welcome Tech user finds the company after they have been in the U.S. for five years or more, but the goal is to be relevant to folks when they initially arrive or within the first three years, Hemmat said.
“Most people spend the first three or five years in a new country to go to school or start a job, with the intent on returning to their home country,” Hemmat said. “They then realize there are other opportunities. They meet a spouse, have kids and decide to plant roots, and want to navigate where they need to go.”
Brian Garrett, co-founder and managing director of Crosscut Ventures, sits on Welcome Tech’s board and said his relationship with Hemmat goes back 10 years. When Hemmat told him about Welcome Tech’s vision for rewriting immigration, it resonated with him and Crosscut, he said.
“Amir and his team have created a vision that combines a mission-oriented company with deep technical talent,” Garrett said. “There are 10 neobanks that have raised between $100 million and $500 million, targeting millennials with low-cost banking solutions. Welcome Tech is instead appealing to a very underserved market, so there is a low cost of acquisition, and they are monetizing it. Its platform is very penetrated with smartphones and app interfaces so that it is not only engageable, but customized and personalized for this demographic.”
Meanwhile, Welcome Tech is approaching 3 million active users, and the new funding will be used to scale and grow the company, as well as introduce new products, such as a fee-free bank account.
“Immigrants have gravitated toward digital experiences, but what we see in certain key services, such as financial services, is unfortunately highly inefficient and predatory,” Hemmat said. “Companies typically extract value from this type of consumer, but we are creating value for them.”
Feature photo of Amir Hemmat courtesy of Welcome Tech.
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman
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