San Francisco Wells Fargo Accelerator

Wells Fargo Launched Startup Accelerator


On Wednesday, Wells Fargo – the “nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.6 trillion in assets”1 bank – launched a startup accelerator.  This makes a lot of sense for Wells Fargo, but it is of questionable sense for the entrepreneur. After all, banks make money through investing. This is just another approach to investing. A way to diversify their portfolio, if you will. Although, yes, Wells Fargo was one of the few banks that was able to survive the housing crisis nearly unscathed, they were not completely unscathed:

When the mortgage crisis hit in 2008, Wells Fargo was viewed as one of the good guys. The bank’s conservative lending policies had helped it weather the worst of the housing bust, giving it the financial strength and stability to orchestrate the merger with Wachovia. Investors knew that the new banking behemoth, now the country’s largest home mortgage lender, would have to deal with the excesses of Wachovia—from bad loans to questionable lending practices.2

Anyhow, the accelerator terms are pretty standard:

Wells Fargo will make a direct equity investment of $50,000 to $500,000 in each selected start-up. The Startup Accelerator also will provide business planning expertise to firms in the six-month program, which is designed to continuously attract innovative ideas and stoke innovation across the Wells Fargo enterprise. Company subject matter experts and purchasing managers will offer workshops and individual coaching to the firms. Successful companies may become vendors to the bank.3

Wells Fargo is currently accepting applications for the 6-month program, until October 1, 2014. 3 companies have already been accepted into the accelerator:

  • Zumigo, San Jose, California: A developer of mobile services using a unique combination of location and mobile identity technologies to secure commerce and enable mobile marketing.
  • EyeVerify, Kansas City, Kansas: The creator of EyePrint ID™ that transforms a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital life.
  • Kasisto, New York: The builder of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology that improves the consumer experience on mobile devices through intelligent conversation.4

Would you join the Wells Fargo accelerator if accepted?