Since its founding in Feb. 2021, TIP Digital at the UConn Stamford campus has seen substantial success and growth.
“We’re thrilled with the significant growth we’ve achieved in such a short time,” Margaret Feeney, director of TIP Digital, says. “The program is buzzing with energetic entrepreneurs who are excited to be part of the community we are building. They’re making exciting progress.”
One of the 17 startups working with TIP Digital is FinTron, a FinTech company providing a range of digitally enabled banking and investment services to the “mobile generation” (millennials and Gen Z ages 18 to 39). Through its subsidiary, FinTron Invest, a FINRA Member and SEC registered broker-dealer, the company provides a range of investment services, including commission-free trading in more than two thousand stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs), as well as investment automation and educational financial resources delivered through an “all-in-one” investing and investment education app.
FinTron joined TIP Digital in April after hearing about the opportunity from Feeney. Since then, FinTron has raised $2.5 million and quadrupled its number of users, currently reaching 8,000.
TIP Digital provides FinTron and its other startups with resources, connections, and space to develop their ideas.
“We received a lot of aid and support from Connecticut communities and we’re really excited to be part of TIP,” Wilder Rumpf, FinTron founder and CEO, says.
Rumpf started investing while living in California after dropping out of college.
“I fell in love with investing,” Rumpf says. “I always wanted to do something great with my life and I thought what better way to make an impact than going into finance.”
Rumpf wanted to make investing accessible for people who might normally shy away from the prospect. FinTron works to educate its young user base about investing and give them the tools they need to get started
When he returned to college at Sacred Heart University to study finance, Rumpf surveyed thousands of students and discovered some common barriers to investing.
“They felt investing was the right thing to do,” Rumpf says. “But it was expensive, it was risky, and no one knew where to start.”
Rumpf founded FinTron in 2017 and partnered with co-founders Matthew Fatse and Adam Pulcyn in 2018. FinTron Invest became a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2020.
FinTron’s app works differently than other finance apps. FinTron puts education first and helps users understand the fundamentals of personal financial management. When users open a brokerage account, FinTron provides them with their first $20 to invest.
“Not only do we help educate our users on the fundamentals of investing,” Rumpf says. “We give you your first $20 so you can get comfortable with the concept of investing without risking your own capital.”
Rumpf says that first-time investors, and even seasoned investors, should remember that investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.
A major part of FinTron’s work is teaching students in high schools and colleges throughout Connecticut about investing and personal finance. FinTron’s team offers this free service, which allows students to engage in an investment simulation and learn the basics of the stock market. They are teaching 15 classes this semester at Stratford High School, P-TECH Norwalk, and Sacred Heart University.
Everything we do is with education, simplicity, and transparency.
— Wilder Rumpf
FinTron has one of the youngest user demographics in the field, with an average age of 26. Additionally, 55% of their users are women, in an industry where women account for only about 25% of users overall.
“We think our educational approach is breaking down the barrier for every demographic,” Rumpf says. “Everything we do is with education, simplicity, and transparency.”
FinTron has benefited from several resources in the state, including the Connecticut Small Business Administration and Connecticut Innovations. During their developmental phase, FinTron also started a robust internship program with Sacred Heart University.
FinTron has acquired a significant investment from Sterling Bancorp. This investment will allow FinTron to expand its services. Rumpf says FinTron is interested in rolling out its own credit card within the next year.
TIP Digital is the latest expansion of UConn’s longstanding Technology Incubation Program (TIP) supporting startups in the state. By blending UConn’s world-class research resources, facilities, and business support services with a network of experienced investors and entrepreneurs, TIP helps launch startups ready to transform their respective markets. TIP Digital focuses on data science and artificial intelligence. Its startups use the promise of machine learning to address persistent problems with novel solutions as well as contribute to Stamford’s fast-growing economy by creating jobs and opportunities.
“Data is truly the raw material feeding just about every business today,” Feeney notes. “We have merely scratched the surface in terms of the challenges we can solve using data.”