The information: Seashell, a brand new Seattle fintech startup that claims it might probably supply as much as 10% curiosity to customers, raised a $6 million seed spherical co-led by high Silicon Valley companies Khosla Ventures and Kindred Ventures. Different backers embody Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban; Robinhood co-founder and CEO Vlad Tenev; Coinbase Ventures; longtime tech startup investor Elad Gil; and former CFTC Chairman J. Christopher “CryptoDad” Giancarlo.
The mannequin: Seashell is taking up conventional banks by giving shoppers a easy option to generate excessive yields. It takes money from customers and invests in secure haven property akin to gold and “dollar-pegged digital property.” The concept is that Seashell will entice debtors who pay larger curiosity charges, thus producing larger yields for its customers in comparison with incumbents. The 15-person firm makes cash by sharing the income it offers again to customers.
Sure, however: Seashell is just not FDIC-insured, and there’s a threat that customers can lose their funding. The corporate says it invests in solely “extremely steady and over-collateralized tangible and digital property.”
Philip Bond, a professor of finance and enterprise economics on the College of Washington, mentioned Seashell seems like a mutual fund, however one which invests in several types of property in comparison with publicly traded monetary property.
“Seashell seems to easily be a specific kind of funding fund that’s being marketed as whether it is virtually a financial institution,” Bond mentioned.
Hok mentioned Seashell is just not a financial institution — not but, at the very least. He additionally described Seashell’s investing mannequin as “a really safe system.”
The founder: Hok graduated from Yale with levels in economics and psychology. He labored at an data companies startup, FiscalNote, earlier than becoming a member of blockchain safety startup CertiK. That’s the place he realized how individuals focused on crypto have been paying excessive charges for loans, and noticed a possibility to launch Seashell.
Hok mentioned with inflation charges rising — now at 7%, the biggest enhance since 1982 — that is an opportune time for one thing like Seashell, with financial institution rates of interest sitting beneath 1%.
“Sensible savers ought to strongly think about using Seashell as a easy answer to beat rising costs,” Cuban mentioned in a press release.
The HQ: Hok, who grew up in Southern California, relocated to Seattle from New York Metropolis throughout the pandemic. He needed to be on the West Coast however didn’t need to personal a automobile (so, not Los Angeles) and needed to keep away from the Bay Space.
He’s been impressed by the engineering expertise accessible within the Seattle area, which additionally has a budding fintech budding fintech scene. “It does rain rather a lot, individuals weren’t joking about that,” Hok mentioned. However he added: “The views are stunning.”