Entrepreneurs Are Problem Solvers

Posted in News by Ben Worsley

Startup Roundup: October 1, 2020

Throughout the pandemic, most of us are taking things one day at a time, focusing on our health and that of family and friends. However, as the health crisis continues, we're starting to see studies like this Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement report looking at how COVID-19 is influencing the already shaky retirement system. Over the years, retirement savings have shifted from employer-backed pensions to self-financed by workes. In the meantime, "real" salaries have decreased and the cost of education, housing, and health care has dramatically increased. The Aegon Retirement Readiness Index (ARRI) has been established by the Aegon Center, which ranks retirement readiness on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest score.

U.S. Retirement Readiness Index, 2012-2020

Source: Statista

Since the survey was completed before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, the stagnation of ARRI over the last 3 years is surprising since the stock market, which holds most of the nation's retirement savings, has risen to an all-time high.

Rising up to meet the need, today we're looking at a few startups working as they plan to retire to ease some of the challenges employees face.



Only 25% of employees feel that they are on track to achieve their goal of retirement income, and around 80% lack a clear, written plan to get there.Retirable aims to help individuals develop a path to retirement. The platform combines a user-friendly interface with expert financial planners to help users increase their retirement income by as much as 20 percent. They offer a half-price annual subscription ($49 instead of the regular $99). With participation from Diagram Ventures, Retirable received $4.7 million in seed funding led by Vestigo Ventures.



In the meantime, 58 percent of workers feel that the once-popular phenomenon of "job for life" is a thing of the past. With most retirement programs linked to jobs, the process of rolling over a 401k can overwhelm workers.Capitalize helps workers move their 401k to the IRA at no cost to them (they receive fees from their providers including Vanguard, Charles Schwab and Betterment). Capitalize has received $2 million in seed funding from Bling Capital with participation from Greycroft and several other venture capital groups.


Rally Road

Perhaps traditional techniques for retirement savings are not exciting enough for you. Well, what about investing in rare collectibles? Rally Road has recently secured $27 million in venture financing for its platform that enables small investors to purchase shares in collectible assets such as sports memorabilia, classic cars, wine, and much more. Shares are bought and sold through a mobile app, starting at as low as $50 per share. For transactions, there are no fees. The venture round was led by Upfront Ventures with the support of Japan's Global Brain Corporation.



Speaking of sports, with a mobile app that aggregates subscriptions,Buzzer aims to embrace the way younger fans consume sports so that viewers can watch their favorite teams for micropayments of $0.99. In addition, users are able to authenticate their monthly broadcaster subscriptions and watch free of charge. Viewers just tell the app their favorite teams and players, and get live moments and highlight notifications. The firm sees itself as a bridge between cord-cutters and traditional broadcasters through the micropayment system. A $4 million seed funding round led by Lerer Hippeau and Sapphire Sport was recently completed by Buzzer.



Spiceologyprovides home cooks and professional chefs with an inventory of around 300 spices, blends, chilies, salts and powders, the company aims to increase food. The Cowles Company and Kickstart Funds recently provided the Spokane-based company with $4.7 million in funding.


News for Small Business Owners

  • Over 5 million small businesses received and spent funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, all under the promise that if the borrowers maintained their payroll, these loans would be forgiven. On August 10, applications for loan forgiveness began to be accepted, and so far, nearly 100,000 (about 2 percent) borrowers have submitted their forgiveness paperwork to the SBA. And the number approved by the SBA? Zero. (Nor have they denied any.) The slow response of the SBA has lenders refusing to accept new applications for loan forgiveness until the process is sorted out.
  • What happens when a company receives both a PPP loan and a grant from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is another problem that has recently arisen. Approximately $20 billion was issued as EIDL grants, and the SBA recently announced that it was necessary to remove money received as an EIDL grant from the PPP loan amount forgiveness. One anonymous lender estimated in this Politico article that 20-30 percent of their borrowers received both not knowing some of the amount would have to be repaid: “That’s not something we expected at all. I'm concerned about whether customers actually understood this was the way it was going to operate. I don’t think they did.”


Ben Worsley is Marketing & Creative Director at Masterplans.


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