Fintech HMBradley Takes a Different Path, Raises $18M

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Fintech HMBradley Takes a Different Path, Raises $18M

Backed by PayPal founder Max Levchin, fintech company HMBradley offers a hybrid savings and checking account and brags that it has an interest rate up to 3%.

The model has proved popular and on Tuesday, the Santa Monica-based digital banking platform HMBradley announced it has raised $18.25 million in Series A funding in a round led by Acrew Captial.


Zach Bruhnke, HMBradley's co-founder and CEO, said in an interview that he didn't foresee a Series A round happening so quickly after the platform launched on March 30, but deposits have grown faster than expected.

"I think we were very much prepared for this to be a slow burn," he said. "We were going out saying we're going to build slow and steady."

HMBradley gives up to a 3% interest rate on savings to users who save 20% or more of their direct deposits each quarter no matter how much money they earn. There is a tiered system, so the higher percentage of your deposits you save, the higher the interest rate will be, up to 3%.

Zach Bruhnke

HMBradley's co-founder and CEO Zach Bruhnke

The fintech firm said it has received over $90 million in deposits and its users have an average account balance of $30,000, while transaction volume has grown to over $110 million.

"Our customer base, they like to be rewarded for having good behavior and that's exactly what we're doing," Bruhnke said. "You save more, you earn more that's a big part of the focus."

The company differentiates itself from other fintechs by charging fees, trying to compete with customers who would normally bank at traditional banks rather than other digital banks that don't charge fees.

Bruhnke said the product has appealed to customers who are focused on saving and being rewarded for it with higher interest rates.

"What we didn't expect is how fast it would catch on with that audience," he said.

The Series A funding will help the company add to its growing employee roster, which expanded from 13 to 25 employees. The company recently hired Ben Coffman, who built the Capital One mobile app, and Saira Rahman, a former AVP at Alpine Bank and head of West Coast derivatives at B&F Capital Markets.


The money will also be used to build new tools for customers like bill pay and remote check deposit. Bruhnke also wants to help customers understand their cash flows to make better financial decisions.

Acrew Capital was also an early investor in Chime, another digital banking service, based in San Francisco.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to omit Finix and Deserve as funders in the Series A. They were not.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

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Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Motional
Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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