Meet Tenure — A Demo Day[s] 10 Presenting Startup

This year, FinTech Sandbox Demo Day[s] will take place across two days, April 9 & April 11. The presentations will be virtual and the event, as always, is free. Demo Days are exciting because we get to showcase startups that are on the very cutting edge of innovation and you get to see what they’re up to before they’re discovered.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll highlight a few of this year’s presenting entrepreneurs. Today, we’re talking to Jonathan Hillis, Founder and CEO of Ontario-based Tenure, which is building an AI-powered platform redefining employee recognition, boosting engagement and retention while driving financial well-being. Tenure is presenting on Tuesday, April 9.

Q.   Jon, tell us a bit about Tenure. What problems are you solving?

A.   Tenure addresses the crucial aspect of financial savings for organizations by significantly reducing the costs associated with high employee turnover and low productivity through its innovative engagement strategies. By integrating AI-driven budgeting and financial literacy tools, Tenure empowers employees to achieve personal financial growth, which, in turn, boosts their motivation and sense of belonging in the workplace. This holistic approach provides middle managers with a tangible link between employee satisfaction and productivity, offering a compelling incentive to foster a culture of recognition and achievement.

Q.   What is your company’s origin story?

A.  Tenure’s origin story is rooted in a recognition of the profound disconnection between workplace culture, employee well-being, and financial stability. Our founders, having experienced first-hand the stifling environment of unproductive workplaces with no supportive culture, saw how such environments not only push employees down rather than building them up but also ignore the critical aspect of financial well-being. Witnessing the widening gap in financial inclusion and the troubling trajectory towards a paycheck-to-paycheck existence for an increasing number of people, they identified a pressing need. This need was for an inclusive workplace culture that actively fosters financial well-being, understanding that such an environment is not just beneficial but essential for the productivity and growth of both individuals and businesses.

Tenure was born from the belief that financial health is a cornerstone of employee satisfaction and company success, aiming to bridge this gap by integrating financial wellness into the fabric of workplace culture.

Q.   Can you describe what it’s been like to be part of the Fintech Sandbox community?

A.   Joining the Fintech Sandbox community has been an exceptional experience for us. It has provided unparalleled access to essential resources and industry expertise, which has been instrumental in our development journey. The support and connections we’ve made with leading professionals and companies have significantly shaped our startup’s trajectory, enabling us to create a solution that promises to impact employees and businesses positively. This collaboration has been a cornerstone of our progress, and we’re eager to see where it leads.

Q.   Why is data access important to your startup?

A.   Data access is crucial to Tenure for several pivotal reasons, primarily because it underpins the development and refinement of our AI and machine learning platform. With comprehensive data access, we can expedite the creation and improvement of sophisticated AI models that are essential for delivering personalized and impactful financial recommendations to our users. This enhanced capability allows us to more accurately and effectively address the unique financial well-being needs of each Tenure user, ensuring that our platform not only meets but exceeds their expectations in fostering financial growth and stability.

Q.   What milestones has Tenure achieved so far?

A.   Tenure has made significant strides on its path to transforming the landscape of workplace culture and financial well-being. A highlight of our journey so far includes securing partnerships with over 20 pilot customers, showcasing the demand and support for our mission even before our public launch. This early achievement signals strong market validation and eagerness for solutions that Tenure aims to provide.

In anticipation of our next big steps, we are gearing up for the release of our MVP. This phase is crucial as it will allow us to directly engage with users, refining our offering based on real-world feedback and interactions. While the engagement with 1500 users is on the horizon, our focus remains on ensuring that when this milestone is reached, it marks a significant leap forward in delivering value and impact.

Furthermore, Tenure is poised for exciting growth, with plans to launch our product in the United States in the coming months, following our debut in Canada. This strategic rollout underscores our commitment to fostering inclusive, supportive, and financially aware workplace cultures across North America. Our comprehensive rebranding efforts have laid a strong foundation, emphasizing the tone of inclusiveness and the transformative potential of Tenure. These steps collectively mark critical milestones in our journey towards creating a platform that benefits both employees and businesses by prioritizing financial well-being and productivity.

Q.   What trends in fintech are you most excited about?

A.   Tenure and the team is particularly enthusiastic about the convergence of financial wellness platforms and AI-driven personalized financial advice within the fintech sector. These trends not only embody the shift towards a more holistic approach to financial health but also offer Tenure an unprecedented opportunity to enhance our platform. By integrating comprehensive financial wellness tools and utilizing AI for tailored financial guidance, we can significantly elevate the user experience. This approach ensures that each user receives personalized insights and recommendations, fostering a more informed and financially savvy workforce.

Furthermore, the emergence of embedded finance and the potential of decentralized finance (DeFi) open new pathways for Tenure to seamlessly incorporate financial services into everyday work life, making financial well-being an accessible goal for all employees. The focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria in financial products aligns with our vision of promoting social responsibility and sustainability. Leveraging these fintech trends, Tenure is poised to offer a platform that not only supports the financial growth of its users but also encourages a value-driven approach to financial decision-making, setting a new standard for what it means to be financially well in the modern workplace.

Q.   How does Tenure think about leveraging AI in a differentiated way?

A.   Tenure’s innovative use of AI, particularly in the realm of hyper-personalization, is deeply integrated into our budgetary and financial literacy management tools. By harnessing real-time transactional data, we offer users tailored recommendations through a sophisticated financial literacy manager. This system not only provides personalized financial advice but also empowers users with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective budget management.

Our platform goes beyond mere transaction tracking to actively guide users in making informed financial decisions, promoting a deeper understanding of financial health principles. This approach ensures that recommendations are not only relevant to the user’s immediate financial situation but also aligned with their long-term financial goals, thereby enhancing financial well-being and literacy. By focusing on this dual approach, Tenure significantly differentiates itself, delivering a comprehensive service that supports users in navigating their financial journeys while fostering a culture of informed financial decision-making within the workplace.

Q.   What’s next for Tenure?

A.   Our immediate next step involves launching our MVP, a significant milestone that marks the beginning of our journey to redefine workplace engagement and financial well-being.

But our vision extends far beyond the MVP. We are building towards a comprehensive platform designed to shift the power dynamics in workplace benefits and engagement, placing control directly into the hands of employees rather than HR departments. Our aim is to offer a suite of features encompassing benefits, rewards, recognition, and engagement, all tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of individual users. Hyper-personalization is the cornerstone of our strategy, as we believe it represents the future of employee engagement and financial wellness. By leveraging advanced AI and real-time data analytics, Tenure is set to lead the way in creating a personalized work environment where every employee feels valued, recognized, and financially secure. Our platform will not only support employees in their personal and professional growth but also empower them to take charge of their financial futures.

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To hear more about Tenure and 11 other exciting fintech startups, be sure to register for FinTech Sandbox Demo Day[s] 10!

The Fintech 5 with Elizabeth Thomas – Program Director for Mass. Fintech Hub

The Fintech 5 is a series of blog posts consisting of questions and answers designed to help you get to know the people behind Fintech Sandbox and our Data Access Residency better.

Mass Fintech Hub is a public-private partnership comprising a network of fintech leaders, financial experts, academics, public sector leaders and venture capitalists who empower Massachusetts fintech startups to achieve success. It is an initiative under the Fintech Sandbox umbrella. Elizabeth Thomas joined as Program Director in 2022. Before this she worked in economic development with a focus helping fintech and tech companies scale internationally.

Elizabeth Thomas, Mass Fintech Hub Program Director

Question #1: What is your role with Fintech Sandbox?

Mass Fintech Hub Program Director.

#2: What fintech problem/solution are you focused on or most interested in?

My fintech passion is fintech as a solution for improving consumer financial health. I am thrilled when I learn about a solution tackling common problems such as financial literacy, consumer debt reduction, and credit building from a completely new angle.

In January, I will lead a virtual workshop introducing fintech as a vehicle for improved financial health as part of the Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment’s Worth & Wealth Seminars. You can learn more about the workshop here.

#3: What trends in fintech are you most excited about?

I am excited about the increasing fintech adoption and acceleration across industries. What was once a niche vertical is becoming a horizontal category. To quote Fintech Sandbox founder Sarah Biller, “Every company is becoming a fintech company”.

In the last few years, we saw new entrants into fintech from tech giants like Amazon and Google. Now we are seeing embedded finance solutions increasing across industries and platforms. More fintech opportunities will continue to reduce friction, time, and costs and increase benefits for the consumer.

#4: If you could change one thing about the fintech ecosystem, what would it be and why?

Our work at the Mass Fintech Hub is focused on accelerating the Massachusetts fintech ecosystem. We are working to unlock capital for new startups, increase corporate-startup collaboration, increase talent in the ecosystem, and enhance the visibility of the great things already going on in our ecosystem.

If I were to pick one thing to change, it would be to continue to increase opportunities for connections across the ecosystem in support of these goals. In November we released an Ecosystem Reassessment report in partnership with Mass Tech Collaborative authored by KPMG that surveyed the ecosystem to help us find ways to do just that. You can join our growing community and learn how to get involved here.

#5: Hot take! What are your thoughts on AI in the industry? Are we about to see a major transformation beyond chatbots? Is fintech the key to unlocking AI at scale for financial services?

At Fintech Sandbox we interview up to 6 fintech startups a week for the Data Access Residency program. In the last year, the number of startups we have seen with AI tools increasing efficiency, supporting decision-making and customer interaction in financial services has increased exponentially. We have a ways to go, but we are certainly on the brink of an exciting change in the industry.

Bonus Question! What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently? 

I’m currently reading the Four Agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom and philosophy. My sister had recommended it and in an exciting coincidence,  I subsequently came across it in a little free library stand around the corner from my house. Was it fate?  I find it intriguing to learn how different cultures deal with common philosophical questions about how to live a happy and fulfilled life. And I love the metaphor introduced in the book of every person existing in their own dream that they have the power to change through simple actions.

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If you are a fintech entrepreneur with an early-stage company and you could benefit from free access to data, cloud hosting, and a supportive community, please visit our website to learn more!