UN wants to improve financial products for underserved communities

Onuu co-founders Felix Ortiz III (left) and Ryan Wuerch (right). | Photo: UN

Of course, the latest moves from the industry’s Teslas, Apples and Googles tend to dominate the tech news space – and with good reason. Yet the titans of technology are not the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to shine a light on promising startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we’ll feature five tech startups, nonprofits, or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our Austin overviewit is rising startups from the last quarter here.

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Growing up, Felix Oritz III saw how his Puerto Rican grandparents struggled to support him and five other family members in their apartment in New York.

As the first generation to seek a better life in the continental United States, her grandparents did their best to keep the family afloat with food stamps, but they lacked the knowledge of financial and insurance systems. who could have helped the family financially.

When Oritz’s grandmother, Candi, died in her 50s, he decided to make it his life’s work to educate those underserved and neglected by America’s financial system.

“Turning the financial challenges they’ve faced into an opportunity to serve millions of people who find themselves in a similar position is not just an honor, it’s a responsibility,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz has partnered with entrepreneur Ryan Wuerch to launch Onuu, which uses machine learning to deliver personalized banking and life insurance products based “about you” and your data. The platform, which charges a monthly fee, also provides AI-powered financial literacy advice from a guide named Candi, a tribute to Ortiz’s late grandmother.

“It’s not about building a unicorn, which eventually will be. It’s about building a Fortune 500 company. That’s the mindset of Ryan and I and the people we bring together,” said Ortiz, who also serves as the company’s CEO. “It’s time we changed the paradigm of what financial and insurance products look like in a digital world.”

A US Army veteran, Ortiz, said Onuu is akin to a digital version of USAA, which provides military members and veterans with banking, brokerage and insurance services. But unlike USAA, Ortiz said Onuu offers a better user experience and, more importantly, better financial products.

Turning the financial challenges they faced into an opportunity to serve millions of people who find themselves in a similar position is not just an honor, it’s a responsibility.

Ortiz said he wants to open lines of credit to people who traditionally wouldn’t qualify given that when he was a 19-year-old Army soldier he couldn’t get a credit card online. due to his poor credit history. Onuu credit cards, on the other hand, offer an unlimited line of credit from $500 to $5,000 with interest rates as low as 19.9%.

Onuu is able to offer favorable credit card terms, Ortiz said, because it has its own warehouse line of credit that is backed by a machine learning-based financial security score.

“We are changing that paradigm through the Financial Security Score,” he said. “We use a holistic view of data, non-traditional data, to subscribe and enable you to access products that these communities have been shunned from for many years because companies are worried about the risk that they will not pay But how do you know they won’t pay if you don’t really give them the opportunity?”

Onuu also offers a term life insurance product that guarantees eligibility.

Onuu partners with Visa, AAA Life Insurance, Evolve Bank & Trust and reinsurer SCOR to support these products. All of Onuu’s products are built from the ground up, not taken off the shelf and rebranded like some neobanks and insurtech startups do, Ortiz said.

Since the opening of Onuu’s waiting list on May 2, more than 100,000 people have registered to become the first subscribers. The platform is expected to launch this summer.

Onuu has received $6 million in seed funding from VC LEAP Global Partners led by Latinx, with participation from Ulu Ventures, SV latam Capital, JumpStart Ventures, Verso Capital and Capital Factory Ventures.

The company has 25 employees, 60% of whom are from minorities or women.

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