Daniel Sathyanesan passed two years at tech giant Apple as a user experience designer on the Apple board before going it alone.
While running his own business – a service-based design agency – Sathyanesan quickly realized that the banking options for a digital solopreneur were less than ideal.
According to him, there were “incredible banking products” available for individuals, startups, small businesses and large corporations, but that the digital entrepreneur “got left behind”.
“Their challenges may look a little different than those of an average brick-and-mortar business – cash flow is unpredictable, income is taxed as personal income, and access to capital is very difficult,” Sathyanesan said. “There are other neobanks that are more tackling the self-employment / gig economy, such as Found and Lili, but no one really serves solo digital entrepreneurs, who are a fairly large and rapidly growing segment.
So the designer did what any enterprising entrepreneur would do and set about creating the products he wanted to exist. In August 2021, Wind was born as a neobank that offers deposit banking, expense management, and other financial products for digital entrepreneurs. Specifically, Winden is gearing its products primarily towards single-person e-commerce businesses, but also freelancers and digital agencies.
And today, the startup announces that it has raised $5.3 million in a seed funding round led by renowned venture capital firm Accel.
“I had no intention of wanting to do a startup” Sathyanesan told TechCrunch. “I was quite happy to make money running my own business and on my own, but it was so frustrating and I felt someone really needed to find a good solution to this.”
Notably, in addition to gaining backing from Accel, Winden has also received validation from some high-profile investors, including expense management startup Ramp’s venture capital fund; Sheel Mohnot, co-founder of Better Tomorrow Ventures; Lachy Groom and the founders of a number of fintech unicorns such as Deel co-founder and CEO Alex Bouaziz; Karim Atiyeh, co-founder of Ramp; Pipe co-founder and CEO Harry Hurst; Klayvio co-founder Ed Hallen and Kalshi co-founder and CEO Tarek Mansour.
Today, Sathyanesan said, Winden offers digital entrepreneurs features like free ACH, wire and check payments and the ability to manage transactions, payments and expenses in one place. It also offers “unlimited” cash back on ad spend and access to “a community of experts” who can help them with the challenges of running a freelance business. Unsurprisingly, considering its backers, Winden also offers expense management via virtual and physical cards.
The six-person company unveiled its product earlier this year and already has nearly 2,000 approved customers, according to Sathyanesan, including Marz Agency, SLURP! Straw and Betafish Laboratories.
“We did all of this without sales or marketing,” the executive told TechCrunch. “As an all-tech team, with our funds, we’ll be making our first hires in the market.”
Picture credits: Founder and CEO Daniel Sathyanesan / Winden
So how did a designer connect with such a big venture capital firm at such an early stage? In an example of how the world of fintech can be big and small at the same time, Sathyanesan was introduced to Accel through the CEO of Unit, a startup Winden works with to facilitate some of his banking features as a service. Accel ran this business B-series.
Acceleration Partner Amit Kumarwho was a tech founder himself, believes the rise of embedded fintech has led to an increase in “purpose-built” financial apps tailored to “unique” market segments.
“As integrated banking becomes the norm, we will see increased fragmentation of financial offerings for end consumers. The winners are going to go their separate ways with a relentless focus on their particular demographics,” Kumar told TechCrunch. “In the case of Winden, they are focusing on a segment that most product offerings have overlooked. Their deep understanding of the specific issues facing digital entrepreneurs has allowed them to create a better, more personalized product – and early reviews and word of mouth are certainly proof of that.
The company plans to spend its capital in part to hire, including a go-to-market team as mentioned above, with plans to have 50 employees by the end of the year.
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