Waleteros targets the 25 million Hispanics in the United States who are unbanked or underbanked, many of whom deal with check cashing stores now. "We have designed a more convenient, safer and cheaper way to deal with their financial needs" through an app that delivers a mobile wallet solution, said Waleteros' founder and CEO Etienne Gillard. And there's this: It's a $10 billion market.
Waleteros partners with independent cellphone dealers in the U.S. to bring the service to this market and plans to launch its app commercially in September. Gillard says there are plenty of competitors targeting bank consumers but very few targeting the unbanked and even fewer targeting the U.S Hispanic market.
Gillard, pictured above and part of the second class of Venture Hive accelerator, pitched his business as part of a packed house at the second annual Geek Tank, held Thursday night at Citrix by MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida and Miami Innovation Fund. He was chosen the winner, winning an opportunity for a $50,000 term sheet from Miami Innovation Fund and $5,000 in free legal services from Edwards Wildman.
The other startups selected to compete in GeekTank were Delivir, a job-market navigation solution presented by Kristy Schoenberg, Jurnid, a publishing platform for freelance journalism, student portfolios and business newsrooms presented by Andrew Quarrie, and YouRoam, a solution for avoiding costly roaming fees during international travel presented by Marcos Cunha.
"The company we chose we believe has both the potential to be the largest disruptive company in its segment and is attacking the largest market segment with the the greatest potential. ... And we were very impressed with the management team," said Franc Nemanic.
"The companies we saw here were fantastic," added Steve Repetti. "There are a lot of people we hear of who say, wow, we can't raise money in South Florida and my response is typically something like 'that's bullshit.' The reality is there is a tremendos amount of opportunity ... Miami Innovation Fund is one of a number of groups out there in the business of deploying capital, there are lots of resources to help."
Before the presentations, a panel of investors answered questions from the audience about investing and then went on to judge the competition. They were Repetti, Doug O’Keefe, Ricardo Weisz, Sami Shiro, Adam Marano and Chris Fleck.