The newly formed Detroit Fintech Association has a threefold mission: networking and job placement; attracting tech workers and companies to Detroit; and mentoring students in financial literacy and investing.
“There are financial technology companies all over the country. A lot in New York [and] a lot in Chicago,” Benzinga founder and CEO Jason Raznick said at the Detroit Fintech Association’s first public meeting earlier this month. “There are also a lot in Detroit. And we wanted to collectively bring them together.”
A Closer Look
The independent Detroit Fintech Association has about 250 members and a 20-person board that includes representatives from JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, Quicken Loans, investment advisory firm Telemus and others.
The leaders of two companies that are emblematic of Detroit’s growing importance in fintech were in attendance at the May 2 Detroit Fintech Association meeting: AutoBooks co-founder and CEO Steve Robert and StockX co-founder and CEO Josh Luber.
AutoBooks, which underwent a $10-million Series A1 funding round earlier this year, recently landed a top-10 bank customer, Robert said. The integrated receivables platform is white-labeled inside banks and credit unions, of which it has about 12 under contract, the CEO said.
StockX: A Detroit Growth Story
StockX — a stock market of things that commoditized sneakers and has launched IPOs for consumer goods and charities — is notching $2 million in daily sales, Luber told Raznick during an onstage conversation.
Luber, who moved from Philadelphia to Detroit to lead StockX, said he attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game with Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert and shared his idea for an online forum for sneaker resale that functioned like a stock market. To Luber’s surprise, Gilbert said that very concept was being developed in Detroit.
“He’s always had this much bigger idea of a stock market of things: that you can buy or sell anything the exact same way the world’s stock market works,” Luber said of Gilbert.
The CEO compared StockX’s role in retail to the evolution of ticket sales in sports, from scalpers being arrested outside venues to eBay Inc EBAY-owned StubHub’s position in the market today.
The stock market has been the “most efficient form of commerce” for hundreds of years, and StockX is applying the concept to consumer goods rather than equities, Luber said.
“You literally are buying the Yeezy index instead of the Dow Jones.”
StockX can and has been used to teach youth about economics, the market and investing, Luber said — which dovetails with the Detroit Fintech Association’s mission.
StockX is in a “hypergrowth” phase, Luber said. Its biggest challenge is hiring, the CEO said: the company has 50-100 job openings.
About one-third of StockX’s business and engineering team were recruited from outside Michigan, Luber said, adding that he works to convince prospective employees to visit Detroit when he travels.
“They all have a specific purview and idea of what Detroit’s like, and then they come here and I convince them to move here.”
Coming To Detroit
Raznick highlighted Detroit’s attractiveness for fintech professionals, including a lower cost of living and numerous companies like StockX that are hiring.
"It's great to have the support and enthusiasm of leaders like Dan Gilbert onboard as he and Quicken Loans have built one of the largest and fastest-growing fintech companies," Raznick said when the Detroit Fintech Association was launched last year.
"In addition, the partnerships with local fintech companies and state organizations will help propel growth in the fintech sector right here in Michigan."