NXTSTAGE Pilot Competition Announces 2020 Winners

Regional Banks Choose Among Promising Financial Technology Firms for Pilot Projects

WICHITA, Kan. - September 18, 2020 - (Newswire.com)

​​​​Leaders of Emprise, Fidelity and INTRUST banks today announced Griffin Technologies and Bellwethr as the 2020 NXTSTAGE Pilot Competition winners, choosing them from startups around the country competing to have the banks pilot their financial technologies.

Griffin Technologies, based in Kansas City, Mo., offers a unique marketing and analytics platform to help banks and credit unions reach and serve customers better. Headed by founder and CEO Donald Hawkins, Griffin (@grffnio) will be partnering with all three NXTSTAGE founding bank partners: Emprise, Fidelity and INTRUST banks.

Bellwethr, based in Wamego, Kan, uses AI software to help financial services firms better understand and guide their customers’ journeys. Bellwethr (@getBellwethr), led by founder and CEO Matt Moody, has been awarded a pilot program with Emprise Bank.
Matt Michaelis, Chairman, President and CEO of Emprise Bank, which is running two pilot projects, said, "Innovation is the lifeblood of our business, and we continue to drive to improve customer experience in our digital channel."

"It's critical that we stimulate and facilitate innovation," echoed Charlie Chandler, INTRUST Bank Chairman and CEO. "Banking is constantly changing, and we have more competition than we've ever had."

The competition's three founding partner banks engaged with multiple NXTSTAGE finalists before naming pilot partners. "Participating in the competition was one way we could encourage startups and open the door to innovative ideas in our industry," said Fidelity Bank CEO, Aaron Bastian.

"The time is now, for both startups and corporations fighting to meet today’s challenges," said Josh Oeding, President and CEO of NXTUS, a catalyst for Wichita's entrepreneurial ecosystem. "Collaboration between early-stage and well-established companies has never been more vital. The leadership shown by our corporate and community partners shows they see innovation and entrepreneurship as core to leading us all to a bright future."

Koch also emphasized timing in his Innovation Showcase remarks: "Entrepreneurs are leaving areas like San Francisco and New York for new homes, looking for startup communities that are more business-friendly. It is vital to 'plant a flag' for Wichita to show that innovation is welcome here and that future-thinking professionals can thrive and be successful," he said.

Case, who was with Pizza Hut and lived in Wichita in the 1980s, highlighted local business support as a huge asset for growing young companies. "It's been great to see how Wichita has really rallied around NXTUS and NXTSTAGE and is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs," he said.

Because of its unique approach to attracting and retaining a tech-oriented workforce, overall development of NXTSTAGE was made possible by a generous grant from the Talent Ecosystem Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation. NetWork Kansas and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation added support for the competition and the Innovation Showcase, along with local businesses Apples & Arrows, Capacity, CK Communications, Kent AV and World Studios ICT.

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