The Future 5 of NYC Tech, Q1 2023
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of NYC’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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The start of a new year brings the opportunity to showcase five up-and-coming NYC tech companies in our quarterly Future 5 series. We are shining a light on some unique businesses this quarter, including a neobank that allows Latino immigrants to open a checking account without a social security number, a fintech startup that helps companies provide emergency financial assistance to their employees and an artificial intelligence-powered edtech platform that is inspiring young writers with personalized writing prompts. Keep reading to learn about these companies and others in our Q1 edition of the Built In Future 5 series.
Built In’s Future 5 Up-and-Coming NYC Tech Companies, Q1 2023
- Canary (Fintech)
- Comun (Fintech)
- Plural (DevOps)
- Pressto (Edtech)
- Zurp (Fintech)
Canary is a fintech startup that makes it easier for companies to distribute emergency relief for employees experiencing financial hardships.
The startup was founded by Rachel Schneider, a former investment banker who, along with New York University Professor Jonathan Morduch, studied the financial lives of 235 American families for a project called the U.S. Financial Diaries. Through their research, Schneider and Morduch found that low-income families often experience spikes and dips in their income, which can lead to missed rent payments, credit card debt and financial penalties.
Schneider came to realize the vital role that emergency relief funding could play in helping struggling families out of these tight times. With Canary, employers can set up a financial assistance fund for employees, collect donations for that fund and then make a tax-advantaged charitable contribution to employees who experienced an unexpected or unavoidable event that caused financial hardship.
Canary works with companies of all sizes from a variety of sectors, ranging from retail to financial services and healthcare.
Comun is a NYC-based fintech startup that caters to the needs of Latino immigrants. The company allows users to open a checking account without a social security number. Instead, users must provide a passport and proof of address, like an electricity bill. Comun also offers a Spanish-first online banking platform and Spanish-speaking customer support representatives.
Founded in 2021, Comun co-founders Abiel Gutierrez and Andres Santos say they want to help unbanked Latinos avoid the predatory practices of payday loan stores and other institutions. By opening a checking account with Comun, users can build credit and establish a taxpayer identification number, which can be helpful for U.S. citizenship applications. Comun doesn’t charge users any fees and doesn’t require a minimum balance.
Since launching its checking account offering four months ago, the company said it has quickly gained traction in Latino communities by partnering with nonprofits, consulates and companies that are already trusted in those communities.
NYC startup Plural wants to make it easier for tech companies to host open-source software in their own cloud environment for a fraction of the price of managed services contracts.
Traditionally, developer teams have been reluctant to host their own open-source applications because they don’t want to hire a site reliability engineer or a DevOps team. Plural co-founder and CTO Michael Guarino said open-source applications have become much easier to manage with Kubernetes, Terraform and other deployment tools.
Guarino said companies could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by switching to open-source data infrastructure tools like Apache Airflow, Apache Superset and Airbyte, for example. Hosting open-source applications also gives teams more control, fewer cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the ability to adjust their configurations.
Plural has a free version, but users can also upgrade to premium plans that allow developer teams to receive more customer support while also supporting the companies that developed the open-source technology.
AI-powered edtech platform Pressto aims to motivate and inspire students in their classroom writing assignments.
The platform uses AI to generate writing prompts that can be tailored to each student’s interest and learning style. After inputting an essay theme, teachers can customize Pressto’s writing prompts by specifying the grade level, writing style and any important keywords that students should incorporate in the essay. The software integrates with Google Classroom and allows teachers to see each student’s progress on the assignment in real-time.
Pressto also runs a junior journalist program in New York City, Kansas City and Honolulu. City government officials send press briefings to each participating school, and Pressto helps teachers guide their students through the process of writing an article about that topic with original research and interviews.
Zurp is helping people support their favorite YouTuber or Twitch streamer without breaking the bank. The NYC fintech startup is in the process of launching a credit card that would deliver cashback rewards to the user’s favorite creator. In return, that user will become eligible for exclusive access, like backstage passes or appearing in a streamer’s next video, according to Zurp.
The Zurp platform also provides creators with audience data. Creators could gain insights about their fans’ favorite restaurants and retailers, which the creator could use to negotiate a sponsorship deal or inform their next brand launch.
Zurp plans to release its credit card with five creators that won’t be announced until launch day. Zurp co-founder and co-CEO Troy Osinoff said more than 60 creators, including athletes and record labels, have shown interest in joining the Zurp network.