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October 21, 2016

Canadian fintech firm wins top VentureClash prize

Matt Pilon Dream Payments CEO Brent Ho-Young (left) hugs Connecticut Innovations CEO Matt McCooe after learning CI would invest $1.5 million in his company.

A Toronto-based financial technology upstart expects to bring jobs to Connecticut by early next year, after winning a $1.5 million equity investment Thursday night in Connecticut Innovations’ first-ever pitch competition.

The contest, dubbed VentureClash and hosted at Yale’s School of Management, resulted in upwards of $5 million in equity investments for six companies out of 11 finalists competing in front of a panel of six venture capitalists and innovation experts. All winners have agreed to locate operations in Connecticut in exchange for the capital.

Dream Payments CEO Brent Ho-Young, who wrapped CI CEO Matt McCooe in a hug after McCooe announced that his company had won the $1.5 million investment, said the capital will provide a way for his company to enter the U.S. market.

“It’s exciting because this a new chapter for us,” Ho-Young said. “Looking at moving into a new country, you need to have the capital to do it, and this was sizeable enough to give us that fuel for sure.”

Dream Payments, which provides a mobile-payment platform for financial institutions and merchants, is already processing millions of payments through a deal with TD Bank, and has another deal in the works, but Ho-Young said his team has struggled to get traction with VCs south of the border. A number have told him that they might be interested in Dream Payments once it made inroads into the U.S. Now, that’s going to happen.

Ho-Young said Dream Payments, which has 40 employees, expects to hire an addition 10 to 15 to operate from Connecticut. He hasn't yet selected an exact location.

While the $1.5 million isn’t a record-breaking deal for Dream Payments  which raised a $6 million Series A in early 2015  Ho-Young said the top prize is particularly meaningful because it provides an entry into a new market and some prestige that could grab attention.

The second-place winner, which will receive a $1 million investment, was Hubbub. The U.K.-based company provides digital tools and services to universities and nonprofits to help them fundraise.

Four companies were awarded $500,000 each. They included:

  • AMP Credit Technologies, Hong Kong
  •, France
  • BondIT, Israel
  • LindaCare, Belgium

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