Silicon Valley Financial App Company Helps Support Minority Startups

Digit helps raise money for code scholarships and investment capital for minority students and entrepreneurs

Black man in a suit with a fist full of money
(Source: ThinkStock)

Access to opportunity, particularly within the technology and investment ecosystem, isn’t always created equal. According to a recent USA Today article, the technology industry’s predominantly white and Asian male workforce is in danger of losing touch with the diverse nation – and world – that forms its customer base. Recently released numbers from some of the largest and most powerful companies confirm what many had suspected: African Americans and Hispanics are largely absent, and women are underrepresented in Silicon Valley – from giant companies to startup-ups to angel investors to venture capital firms.

[Related: 5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Smartphone]

Digit, a Silicon Valley venture backed financial technology company that helps people automatically save money, and Opportunity Hub, the nation’s largest minority owned multi-campus coworking space, entrepreneurship school and incubator are partnering to raise $500,000 to increase its code school scholarships with The Iron Yard and to make more investment in startups that have underrepresented minorities as cofounders.

To accomplish this, Digit contributed $5 to OHUB for every new user that joined its free service via between February 1 and March 31. The money will be used to create 50 new developer jobs via a match program with The Iron Yard, which will contribute more than $2.5 million a year in new income to the economy and community; and allow Opportunity Hub to invest in 10-15 high growth startups that have completed its pre-accelerator incubator program and have been certified as “fundable” and “investable”. These companies will then be pipelined to partnering accelerators, incubators, angel investors and ventures funds at the appropriate time.

Digit is a financial app or service that automatically saves cash for its users. All it requires is for a user to sign up and connect and existing checking account. Digit accesses your account on a daily basis and sets up an automatic withdrawal into an FDIC insured Digit account.

According to CEO Ethan Bloch, Digit users save about $200 per month on average — and in most cases, that’s $200 that they wouldn’t have put into savings themselves. “Digit automatically learns your spending and income patterns and tries to find a small amount of money (frivolous spending), accessing your account on a daily basis, that it feels you don’t need and that your are missing out on based on how you are spending and will sweep out of your checking account and into a FDIC insured Digit account. You can access your funds whenever you need. It has a financial buddy feature that communicates with you like a financial advisor via text messages and will not only tell you about daily spending and savings but changes in your checking account. Digit sets up an automatic withdrawal.

Bloch says he started day trading when I was age 13 and tripled the money that I had but then lost it all in the dotcom bubble. That experience led to a lifelong fascination with finance. “I was exposed to a lot of research around finance and behavioral psychology and economics.  I talked to family and friends about personal finance. I wanted everyone to have their own little sidekick to help them manage their money,” he adds.

Studies reveal that 65% of people age 16 to 40 save nothing within a given year; they have a negative 2% savings rate. The goal of Digit is two-fold: “to get people saving.  Goal number two is to help them grow their savings. We are saving over $4 million per month for our users.”