Ascend is 2015 CFSI/JP Morgan Chase Financial Solutions Lab Winner

Financial insecurity is a global, but solvable problem that requires more than just improving financial knowledge. It requires pairing relevant, actionable information with a product that helps people put their knowledge into action. That’s why we launched the Financial Solutions Lab, a $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to identify, test, and expand the availability of promising innovations that can help Americans increase savings, improve credit and build assets.

The Lab’s $3 million competition for technology innovators was launched in 2015—the first competition to help design the next generation of consumer products. From hundreds of applicants, the nine winners were chosen by a panel of judges—including national thought leaders in behavioral economics, technology, financial services and design—and announced on June 11, 2015 in Austin, TX, at the EMERGE Forum, the nation’s premier conference on consumer financial health…

Options Away: Time Magazine’s Top 10 Travel Apps

Of course, no forecast is perfect. Options Away essentially gives flyers insurance for missed deals. bid ask . For a small fee, users can lock in an airfare two days to three weeks ahead of the purchase. If the airfare drops, they automatically get the cheaper ticket. If not, they pay the original price and swallow the fee ($5 to more than $50, depending on the hold time). Perfect for flyers who suffer from frequent bouts of buyer’s remorse.

Woodside O’Brien and OCA Ventures back PATHAR

Colorado Springs / Overland Park — PATHAR, Inc., an innovative new technology company focused on reinventing the way companies use social media data, announced today a Series A investment of just over $6.5 million led by Woodside O’Brien and joined by Chicago-based OCA Ventures and strategic angel investors. The financing will be used to expand PATHAR’s proprietary big data analytics capabilities and to extend these unique, industry-leading analytical models to support all aspects of social media influence campaigns. relevant domains

Ascend raises $1.5M to launch loans where you can bet on yourself

A San Francisco startup is the latest to join the trend of companies offering you an opportunity to bet on your own risk-worthiness.

Today, Ascend Consumer Financial announced a $1.5 million seed round and the launch of its inaugural product, RateRewards, which introduces dynamic pricing into consumer loans.

The company is reinventing “the whole concept of underwriting and risk assessment,” CEO Steve Carlson told me by phone.

At Ascend, consumers with so-so FICO credit scores of 580 to 660 have two choices for a three-year personal loan of up to $10,000.

They can take the standard loan with an interest rate ranging from about 25 percent to an upper limit of 36 percent, depending on their score and initial assessments of creditworthiness…

Options Away Raises $3.5M led by OCA Ventures

Options Away, the first company that empowers consumers to lock-in flight prices, announced a $3.5 million round of Series A funding led by Chicago-based OCA Ventures and joined by Thayer Ventures and Chicago’s Pritzker Group Venture Capital.

The financing will be used to further scale Options Away’s solution via even more aggressive sales, marketing and partnering, including expanding into international markets – and to further build out and refine its proprietary technology platform.
CEO and Founder Robert Brown said, “Our airfare “hold” product, has put Options Away at the forefront of the exciting airline big-data and traveler engagement space. While we have already partnered with some of the biggest names in travel, this funding, coupled with the reach of our new investment partners, will allow us to further leverage our core B2B/API solutions for the benefit of new global travel partners”.

Ian Drury, General Partner at OCA Ventures, added, “Options Away enables travel companies the ability to provide consumers with a valuable service – locking-in the price of a flight. This enables the provider to engage with customers throughout the hold period, building stickiness as well as the opportunity to sell ancillary products and services. The Options Away solution integrates seamlessly into the complex and competitive travel technology ecosystem, and has been adopted by an impressive set of leading travel partners in a very short period of time. We are very excited to partner with the Options Away management team, Thayer Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and an impressive group of angels to launch the ‘next big thing’ in online travel”.

Existing investors who participated in the round include a group of seasoned European travel industry entrepreneurs led by Iglu.com chairman Martyn Williams. Members include Andy Phillips, former CEO of Priceline International, and Richard Downs, CEO of Iglu.com. New strategic investors include Don Carty, Chairman of Virgin America and former Chairman and CEO of AMR (the parent company of American Airlines). Also new to this round is Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the largest entrepreneurial digital startup hub in the US.

Joining existing Board Members Heidi Brown, Robert Brown and Martyn Williams will be Peter Ianello, Co-founder and General Partner of OCA Ventures, and former President and CEO of SBC Capital Markets and Jeff Jackson, Managing Director at Thayer Ventures and former CFO of Sabre Holdings. Options Away also announced the appointment of Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk, as an advisor.

Recently Options Away won the prestigious PhoCusWright People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Travel Distribution Summit. They also received a 2014 Chicago Innovation Award and hold the Eye for Travel Innovation Award from 2013.

Options Away was founded in 2012 by Robert and Heidi Brown, who act as CEO and CMO respectively. The management team is rounded out by Chief Product Officer and ex-Orbitz founding member Michael Harbin. For more information, visit http://www.optionsaway.com or follow on Twitter @optionsaway

Options Away

Impossible Objects, a next-gen 3D print company, raises $2.8 million

Some companies 3D-print cars as experiments or publicity stunts. Northbrook-based Impossible Objects wants to 3D-print parts that can go straight from machine to vehicle.

The company announced Tuesday it has raised $2.8 million in seed funding in a round led by Chicago-based OCA Ventures. That funding will go toward developing a commercial 3D printing machine as well as sales and marketing, said CEO Larry Kaplan.

Robert Swartz, an entrepreneur and IP consultant for the MIT Media Lab, founded the company and now is its chairman. He hired Kaplan, former CEO and president of Navteq who led that company through its IPO and sale to Nokia, as chief executive in June.

“OCA invested in Impossible Objects because it’s being led by an all-star team of Larry and Bob, who have a lot of experience building companies from early stage startups to IPO,” said Imran Ahmad, principal at OCA Ventures.

WedPics, A Photo-Sharing App for Weddings, Raises $4.25M Series B

Can a mobile, social application bloom outside the Valley or other traditional tech hotspots? Raleigh, North Carolina-based WedPics has proven it can. The company, which makes a photo and video-sharing app for wedding couples and their guests, has now closed on $4.25 million in Series B funding led by Bullpen Capital, and is working on a second close that will see TV’s “Shark Tank” investor Barbara Corcoran participating via her new AngelList syndicate.

Participating in the round so far were OCA Ventures, Venture51, IDEA Fund Partners, Great Oaks, and angels including Adam Draper, Semil Shah, Jocelyn Goldfein, and others. Corcoran’s AngelList syndicate, launching on Monday, has asked for a $250,000 hold. relevant domains .

First Capital Provides $7M Asset-Based Credit Facility to Ed Map

First Capital, a national commercial finance company, announced it has provided a $7,000,000 revolving line of credit to ED MAP, Inc. The senior credit facility consists of a $7 million working capital revolver collateralized by accounts receivable and inventory. relevant domains .

The algorithm that can make fantasy football even more fun

Yahoo Sports has found a way to make our beloved fantasy teams seem even more important. It’s turned to a tech company in North Carolina to auto-generate personalized articles about the thousands of fantasy football teams in its leagues. how to value domain name . For the third year Yahoo has had weekly recaps for each of the thousands of matchups in its leagues. It’s the kind of effort that would be impossible if Yahoo relied on human writers.

In 2013 the Durham-based start-up with about 30 employees published 300 million articles via its content-generating platform, Wordsmith. This year Automated Insights expects to auto-generate more than 1 billion articles for clients ranging from Yahoo Sports to Edmunds.com and the Associated Press.

How Snapsheet’s Last Ditch Pivot Pulled Them Back From The Brink

BodyShopBids, a mobile app that helped people shop around virtually for car repairs was days from closing when an experiment with a last minute pivot repositioned the company within the $100 billion insurance claims market.

Brad Weisberg had a great idea to start a business. bid ask . After a fender bender in L.A. how to value domain name . he’d schlepped to three different bodyshops only to be given three wildly different quotes. At all three bodyshops mechanics had just glanced perfunctorily at the car before scribbling down estimates.

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