3 flavors of BaaS, growth marketing fixes, NerdWallet IPO

Most of the people who poured into California during the Gold Rush have been long forgotten.

We remember Levi Strauss, however: Before he and Jacob Davis patented those denim jeans, he sold shovels and other supplies to fortune-seekers.

Today’s banking-as-a-service startups are similarly placed — instead of digging for treasure in the crowded consumer financial services marketplace, BaaS companies offer fintech companies access to APIs, compliance tools and other software needed to move money around.

In recent weeks, Ryan Lawler has been mapping the landscape of BaaS companies. For his latest report, he studied three different strategies:

  • Turnkey banking as a service

  • Playing matchmaker between banks and fintechs

  • Buying a bank to get into BaaS

“If you’re looking to spin up a new fintech app or want to add banking, debit cards or other financial services to your existing business, knowing how each of these competitors is positioned to work with customers and bank partners is key,” he writes.

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How I went from a college dorm brainstorm to leading edtech

student dormitory room with bed, desk & chair

student dormitory room with bed, desk & chair

Image Credits: Catherine McQueen (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Earlier this year, note-sharing network StuDocu raised a $50 million Series B, but Marnix Broer, the company’s CEO, says he didn’t initially intend to co-found an edtech startup.

“It was more of a project to create a tool that we could use while studying in school,” he writes in a TechCrunch+ guest post that explains how the company scaled up from storing notes on a USB thumb drive to serving more than 15 million users.

Selling into the enterprise: How Slack and other startups get it wrong

Conceptual illustration of a bird pulling at a graph that resembles a worm depicting struggle.

Conceptual illustration of a bird pulling at a graph that resembles a worm depicting struggle.

Image Credits: Fanatic Studio/Gary Waters/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Going up against large enterprise companies may be daunting for a startup, but Scribe CEO and co-founder Jennifer Smith says you’re never too small to start.

Much to their detriment, many early-stage companies wait too long to spin up strategies for competing with industry leaders, she writes. One example: 12 years after its founding, Slack exited to Salesforce for $27.2 billion.

“The question is, if Slack had considered selling into the enterprise sooner, could it have survived as an independent public company?”

NerdWallet’s IPO filing reveals high-margin content business, accelerating marketing spend

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

A casual observer might assume that NerdWallet was a fintech company with a strong marketing game, but after perusing the company’s S-1, Alex Wilhelm concluded that it is “essentially a weaponized content play.”

In his analysis for The Exchange, he looked at how well NerdWallet has fared during the pandemic, its profitability, growing revenue, “and how the company manages to stay trustworthy, a question that we’ll address through the lens of editorial independence.”

Fintech founders can learn a lesson about frugality from these industry leaders

US Paper Money Flying out of Man's Hand

US Paper Money Flying out of Man’s Hand

Image Credits: Jeffrey Coolidge (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Dave Mullen, a fintech-focused investor with SVB Capital, takes a look at how well leading fintech firms are allocating their mountains of cash.

“There are now a slew of fintech startups approaching or far surpassing $10 billion in value … so we can glean some insight into their capital allocation strategies by considering how they have spent to achieve their position in the ecosystem,” he writes.

In a guest column, he unpacks data from Coinbase, Robinhood, Affirm, Chime, Marqeta and others, offering suggestions to founders in the fintech space.

“Dollars may buy growth, but they can’t guarantee a good business.”

Private equity is ready to take MSP consolidation to the next level

A combination of drinking straws in two cups

A combination of drinking straws in two cups

Image Credits: Richard Drury (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Good news: Businesses of all stripes are digitizing their operations faster than ever before, creating huge advantages for companies that start the work now.

Bad news: Many technical workers are already looking for new jobs, and companies must compete to find the right people who can build robust, secure IT environments.

Managed services providers (MSPs) are filling the gap, and private equity firms are paying attention.

“MSPs have all the ingredients that private equity loves,” write Mike McGill and Kevin Jolley of Cowen and Company, LLC.

“A strong demand trend, low risk of obsolescence, a ‘sticky’ service that attracts long-term customers and high recurring revenues, strong cash flow margins and a relatively ‘asset-light’ business.”

5 common growth marketing mistakes startups make

Red and blue darts in wall around red, white and blue dart board

Red and blue darts in wall around red, white and blue dart board

Image Credits: Jeffrey Coolidge (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

We don’t run many articles that call out mistakes or describe dysfunctional processes; most of us have a fairly good handle on what’s going wrong at any given moment, so we focus on solutions.

With that in mind, growth marketer Jonathan Martinez shared a guest post with strategies for tackling these endemic issues:

  • Low testing velocity

  • Reliance on incorrect measurements

  • Focusing only on top-of-funnel traffic

  • Lack of incrementality

  • Insufficient product-growth integration

Venture capital is going to need a record-breaking run of IPOs to clear its own decks

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

Global venture capital is flowing so freely, there are unicorn herds in more regions than ever before.

“Which, in turn, boosts the scale of unexited private-market value that will eventually need to exit,” writes Alex Wilhelm in this morning’s The Exchange.

“And with some U.S. tech giants limiting acquisitions as a way of playing defense against antitrust concerns, there is an implicit expectation that the IPO market will eventually have to make room for a stampede of unicorn debuts.”


Candice Cearley

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