Investing in stocks or retirement accounts can seem like a daunting process if you don’t know where to start.
mentum is committed to making a difference in Latin America and is working on customizable investment APIs and widgets so that businesses in Latin America can create and offer fully digital investment products to their clients, such as local mutual funds, ETFs, and equities. The products also comply with local regulations.
Co-founder and CEO Gustavo Trigos founded the company in San Francisco in 2021 with Simon Avila and Daniel Oswat. The trio, who participated in the Y Combinator cohort in the summer of 2021, are a combination of expertise in payments, technology, APIs and investment services.
All of them came to the US from Latin America to study and work, and in the course of using some of the investment applications offered in the US, they struggled to find similar products in Latin America that would make it possible to fully invest. And in Latin America, only 2% of the population in each country has access to investment products, and that’s mostly because they’re wealthy, Trigos said.
He noted in a conversation with people from the Chilean Fintualwho works in retail investment, why wasn’t there more competition and they discussed the huge gap in infrastructure and understanding of the regulations in each country.
“Every country needs to start from scratch,” Trigos told TechCrunch. “We saw that no one was building it, so we did it.”
Mentum is not the only company working to provide Latinos with an easier way to learn how to invest and try their hand at it. Over the past year or so, significant amounts of venture capital have been invested in companies such as Vest, flink and Grupo Bursatil Mexicanowho have also developed investment products to increase financial inclusion in the region.
Trigos considers Mentum a fintech technology company, not a fintech company. It originated in Colombia and acts as an intermediate layer, developing technologies that companies can build upon.
One of the first approaches the company took was to contact the top 10 broker-dealers in each country to understand the rules and build relationships to get the green light to do business. While Trigos called the process “burdensome,” after Mentum did it, it was easier for him to replicate the process in Chile and is now eyeing Peru and Argentina for expansion.
Initially, Mentum targeted fintech companies because they already knew how to work with APIs, but then demand began to come from traditional banks and even supermarkets, insurance companies, credit unions and super apps that deliver food.
Having so many different companies looking to offer investment products is a big reason why the company wanted to make it easy to use its products, Trigos said.
“We analyzed hundreds of apps to see what the overall experience should look like, then we created widgets that require some code, but we also have a desktop simulator in beta that does not require code to set up interaction,” he added.
Mentum products are still in beta, but plans to launch them this year have been accelerated by $4.2 million in funding led by Google’s Gradient Ventures with participation from Global Founders Capital, Soma Capital Y Combinator and co-founders Plaid and Jeeves.
Trigos intends to use the new capital to grow its workforce from the seven it currently has, including building a founding team. One of his goals for this year is to grow in Colombia and Chile by integrating five clients in each country. The company will work to develop products and features that will improve the experience, such as more payments and the addition of DeFi and cryptocurrencies.
Mentum already has two strategic broker-dealer partnerships and is currently in the process of integrating with two other YC-backed fintech companies in Colombia and another 25 companies interested in launching their products.
“The financial services industry in Latin America is undergoing a massive transformation. APIs have opened up new opportunities for our banking business,” Wen-Ven Lam, partner at Gradient Ventures, said in a written statement. “Through its innovative technologies, Mentum has opened up a wide range of opportunities for fintech applications in Latin America. We are excited to support Gus and his team as they kickstart the next generation of banking.”
Credit: techcrunch.com /