Small business owners can win up to $100000 courtesy of Nationwide and BlueVine

… institutional investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83North, Citi Ventures, SVB Capital, Rakuten, Nationwide Insurance, …

Nationwide, BlueVine unveil ‘Pitch To Win’ Competition for Small Business Owners

COLUMBUS, Ohio and REDWOOD CITY, Calif., May 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Small business owners: How would you take your company to new heights if you had an extra $100,000? Nationwide and BlueVine just unveiled a new small business contest that offers you the opportunity to compete for up to $100,000.

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Blue Vine

“Pitch to Win” is a national, small business competition that delivers big rewards. Nationwide, #1 in Customer Satisfaction with Small Commercial Insurance,* and small business lending companyBlueVine, are launching the competition as part of National Small Business Week to give small business owners the chance to compete for cash prizes by presenting a unique and compelling business proposal.

Small businesses of all types are encouraged to enter. Business owners can submit their proposals The deadline to enter is June 30. Contest rules can also be found on the “Pitch To Win” site.

“The backbone of our national economy is built on the ingenuity and innovation of small business owners,” said Tony Fenton, vice president of underwriting, product & new product development at Nationwide. “Big ideas win in the marketplace, but capital is critical to success. We’re excited to see America’s best and brightest business owners pitch their ideas to win the capital to help bring their dreams to life.”

At the end of the entry period, Nationwide and BlueVine will narrow the list to the small businesses with the best pitches. The finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, where they will present their proposal in person to an executive panel of judges. The finalists will also get to meet and consult with experienced business experts.

The winning proposal will receive $100,000 from Nationwide and BlueVine. The runner up will get $20,000, with third place receiving $10,000. The awards will be non-dilutive, meaning business owners will not be required to give any ownership of their company.

“A 2017 Federal Reserve bank reports that almost half of all U.S. businesses are looking for external capital to scale their company,” Fenton said. “The ‘Pitch To Win’ competition creates a unique and engaging opportunity for small business owners who face this reality every day.”

“BlueVine is excited to partner with Nationwide to give business owners an opportunity to supercharge their business growth. Growing a business takes hard work, dedication, and often a fair amount of funding, and we hope the contest can highlight that effort and bring business owners one step closer to their dreams,” said BlueVine CEO and Founder Eyal Lifshitz. “For us at BlueVine, the contest marks another important step toward a deeper and more meaningful partnership with Nationwide and our joint mission to help small businesses grow.”

Semifinalists will be announced in August on the Nationwide and BlueVine social media platforms. Winners will be announced in October after the “Pitch To Win” event.

Learn more

About BlueVine

BlueVine provides small and medium-sized businesses with fast and simple access to online financing. BlueVine’s advanced online platform is intuitive and offers a fast and convenient solution for a business’ working capital needs. BlueVine offers a suite of products designed to meet the diverse financial needs of today’s business owners. With revolving Line of Credit, business owners can access flexible funds on demand; with Term Loan, business owners can get a lump sum amount to grow their business. With Invoice Factoring, business owners can unlock funds online, from their unpaid invoices. Based in Redwood City, California, BlueVine has provided small and medium-sized businesses with access to nearly $2 billion in financing and is backed by leading private and institutional investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83North, Citi Ventures, SVB Capital, Rakuten, Nationwide Insurance, and M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Arm). All lines of credit and term loan products are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC.

Certain financing may be made or arranged pursuant to California Financing Law-License No. 6054789. Applications are subject to credit approval. Rates and terms may vary based on your creditworthiness and are subject to change.

For more information, please

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2019

*Nationwide received the highest score in the J.D. Power 2018 Small Commercial Insurance Study of customers’ satisfaction with their insurance provider. Visit

Nationwide contact:

Jarrett Dunbar

(614) 249-1591

BlueVine contact:

Ali Mapplethorpe

(415) 675-1457


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Digital lender Funding Circle reveals Wiltshire as a hotspot for financial technology services

It found Wiltshire was sixth in the top 10 financial technology hotspots, behind major urban areas like Liverpool and Manchester, but ahead of areas …

FIRMS in Wiltshire are increasingly turning to digital lenders to grow their business, according to a report by peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle.

In 2018, small businesses in Wiltshire got £17m in loans through the digital lending platform Funding Circle.

The company added that as bank branches decrease digital lenders are picking up the slack.

It found Wiltshire was sixth in the top 10 financial technology hotspots, behind major urban areas like Liverpool and Manchester, but ahead of areas such as Brighton and Hove and Sheffield.

Peer-to-peer lending creates a network of investors who lend money to firms and earn interest in return.

James Meekings, UK managing director of Funding Circle, said: “Small businesses drive much-needed job creation and power our local economies on an incredible scale.

“While bank lending to large firms has increased by 43 per cent over the past three years, it’s decreased to small businesses by three per cent.

“That’s why helping them to grow is at the forefront of our mission; and it’s incredibly rewarding to know that when £1 is lent through our platform, small businesses contribute an additional £2 to our economy.”

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Toyota targets another $100 million for AI, mobility startups

Consulting firm CB Insights says investors poured a record $8 billion into the segment in 2018, though the number of deals fell from a high of 212 in …

Adler sketched out his investing strategy earlier this year on Shift: The Mobility Podcast. Going forward with the second fund, that philosophy remains unchanged.

He’s looking not only for novel advances in technology across the AI, automated and robotic realms, he’s further looking for founders with fleshed-out business plans grounded in reality.

So far, Adler says, he and his team vetted more than 1,500 companies while whittling the number that received investment to 19. What has changed, perhaps, over the past two years is the makeup of the entrepreneurs pitching Toyota AI Ventures.

“We’re definitely seeing more mature founders,” he said. “We’re seeing the more grizzled entrepreneur that is a two- or three-time entrepreneur who has taken a disruptive technology and coupled it with an innovative business model and [is] seeing business traction. From an investor perspective, that is quite compelling.”

The first fund still has money, Adler said, and no investments have yet been made from the second fund.

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ManyChat Lands $18 Million Series A

… which helps businesses uses Facebook bots for marketing, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

SAN FRANCISCOManyChat, which helps businesses uses Facebook bots for marketing, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Flint Capital also participated in the round.

ManyChat helps small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) grow by leveraging popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger to engage customers. With over 2 billion people now using messaging apps, ManyChat is at the forefront of helping businesses connect with these customers in a personalized and conversational way. The new funding will be used to hire across various operational roles including research and development, marketing, and customer success. Ethan Kurzweil, partner at Bessemer, will join the company’s board of directors and Bessemer partner, Alex Ferrara, will join as a board observer.

The company has grown substantially over the past year, tripling its customer acquisition between 2017 and 2018 and has over 1 million accounts created on the platform. Collectively, ManyChat’s customers have more than 350 million subscribers and over 7 billion messages are exchanged over ManyChat’s platform each month. Companies from a broad range of industries rely on ManyChat including e-commerce, online services, and education as well as more traditional businesses such as retailers, gyms, beauty salons, and restaurants among various others.

ManyChat’s mission is to enable small business growth by helping businesses replace traditional and tired channels, like email and web forms, with a more conversational approach to customer engagement. ManyChat delivers a smart blend of automation and personal outreach over Messenger. On average, businesses using ManyChat experience an 80 percent open rate on their messages, as opposed to the average email open rate which hovers around 20 percent.

“Over 2 billion people are now using messaging apps and for most of them, it has become the default way to connect with each other. This is a massive shift in consumer behavior, yet business-to-customer communication seems stuck in the past,” said Mikael Yang, ManyChat co-founder and CEO. “Our mission is to be a champion to small businesses and to help them grow by building meaningful relationships with their customers. We believe that messaging apps is the most effective way to do that today.”

ManyChat is designed and priced for any business owner to use. Building automated conversations and marketing campaigns on the platform is free and simple and can be launched in a few hours.

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How Pilot Helps You Take Care Of Your Bookkeeping Services

… a leading provider of bookkeeping services for small businesses, recently announced it raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures.

Photo Credit: Pilot

Pilot, a leading provider of bookkeeping services for small businesses, recently announced it raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures. Stripe and several existing investors participated in this round as well. The company also recently announced Pilot Tax — which will help customers with end-to-end business needs. Including this round, Pilot has raised $59 million.

Founded in 2017 by CEO Waseem Daher, COO Jeff Arnold, and CTO Jessica McKellar, Pilot is helping bring bookkeeping into the digital era. To help small businesses with advanced bookkeeping needs, Pilot sets them up with dedicated full-time account managers in the U.S. who can quickly learn the ins-and-outs of their business. And Pilot integrates automatically with the financial services customers already use. Using a blend of custom software and expert bookkeepers, Pilot is able to deliver accurate bookkeeping that frees up time for entrepreneurs so that they can focus on growing their business.

“We founded Pilot because we saw first-hand from entrepreneurs struggling with this area that it was time to bring bookkeeping into the 21st century,” said Daher. “We are proud that our customers find our service to be trustworthy, accurate, reliable, and delightful to use, and that investors like Index and Stripe are excited by our vision.”

With this round of funding, Pilot is going to accelerate the adoption of its bookkeeping service and fuel product development. Currently Pilot is handling the bookkeeping for more than $100 million per month in financial transactions.

“Bookkeeping is a problem that should be solved with technology and represents a massive new category of software,” added Index Ventures partner Mark Goldberg. “Startups and small businesses deserve a smarter solution for their back office so that they can focus their creative and entrepreneurial efforts on building what they love, and not managing their books. Pilot is making this possible, and we’re thrilled to double down on this exciting company.”

The Pilot Tax platform service supports 1099 filings, income tax filings, and tax support. And the combination of bookkeeping and tax services means that Pilot can offer a full scope of services and create a more seamless experience for customers.

“It’s so nice to have everything in one place. Before Pilot Tax it felt like I was managing a million different tools to get our books, tax filings, and 1099s all handled,” explained Gem co-founder and CEO Steven Bartel. “Now I can just trust Pilot to cover everything.”

Daher, Arnold, and McKellar met 15 years ago while working as members of MIT’s student computing group. And Pilot is the third startup that they launched together. The first startup was Ksplice — which built technology that could update software systems without requiring a reboot — and got acquired by Oracle in 2011. Then they launched a group chat tool for businesses called Zulip and was acquired by Dropbox in 2014.

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