DMZ Launches Fintech Accelerator With BMO

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BetaKit |  Jessica Galang | May 26, 2017

Toronto’s DMZ announced that it is partnering with BMO to launch a FinTech accelerator.

The DMZ-BMO FinTech accelerator is an extension of the organizations’ Next Big Idea in FinTech competition launched a year ago. During that competition, startups worked for four months out of the DMZ, which culminated in a $25,000 competition.

The accelerator will operate in the same way as the NBIF competition, and includes a four-month incubation period with six entrepreneurs, mentorship from BMO leaders, and a culminating event where each finalist will pitch their technology to a panel of BMO experts.

FormHero, which took third place in the NBIF competition in 2016, has since gone through a proof of concept of its technology, which automatically finds and fills out the right documents and replaces the PDF process. That technology is now live on the BMO website.

"By partnering together we can make banks more effective in delivering solutions to clients they want quicker, and potentially cheaper."

“Working with BMO has helped us grow our team and our customer base,” said Art Harrison, co-founder of FormHero. “We’ve also been able to expand our lines of business with BMO across multiple areas of the bank.”

For both the DMZ and BMO, the expansion to an accelerator is driven by a shift in the needs of startups, enterprises, and the larger FinTech ecosystem.

See: Toronto's FinTech Networking Event June 22nd

“What I hear a lot from early-stage companies is that they can actually get money. Money is getting easier to come by, Canada has an increasing number of venture capital organizations, private equity. It’s less about money now, and what early stage companies need more than ever are blue chip clients, because that gives them the right respectability to scale their business,” said Andrew Irvine, head of Canadian Business Banking and BMO Partners.

DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar says that for the DMZ, it’s about doubling down on certain sectors and moving beyond just being a space for startups.

Startups accepted into the accelerator should have the same criteria as the DMZ — having a tech-based product in the market and early revenue. But Snobar indicates that the DMZ is most interest in startups with the most potential to scale.

Applications to the DMZ-BMO Fintech Accelerator program are due by June 25.

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