Managing finances is vital for all individuals across the globe, and in recent years the mass layoff and remote work culture has changed the thoughts around finances and how it needs to be managed. As per a Morgan Stanley report , before the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 50% of employees spent all of their monthly earnings but now half of them are keeping aside a significant portion of their hard-earned money as “savings”. Currently, one-third of total employee numbers are spending less and less of what they earn since the economic fluctuations and abrupt layoffs have made them take finances more seriously than before.
To manage one’s finances, employees consider taking professional advice from experts on financial matters such as wills, estate and retirement plans. That is where Origin comes into the picture. Origin’s platform does not only provide a number of financial services to employees but also acts as a one-stop destination for accessible and customized financial planning requirements
“Today, 40% of American adults couldn’t come up with $400 for a financial emergency. This is where Origin comes in. Each day we go to work excited to help people figure out how to manage their money for the future.” Origin Website.
According to Origin cofounders, it brings together the expertise of certified financial planners and state-of-the-art financial technology to plan, create, and execute personalized financial strategies for employees .
The Creation of Origin
Origin is primarily the brainchild of two João de Paula and Matt Watson who collaborated to establish the company to make financial wellness accessible in the workplace. Matt Watson who is currently the CEO of Origin has been a successful entrepreneur for seven long years during which he started not one but two companies. Wilson is a 2012 alumnus of Johns Hopkins University The first job he got was on Wall St. as a part of Citigroup’s Capital Market Unit. His task included dealing with high-yield corporate debt and foreign exchange that eventually paved the way forward for building Origin . Watson eventually quit his job on Wall St. in 2015 and moved to San Francisco to pursue his dream of building a company as an InsureTech entrepreneur.
In 2015, Watson joined Choose Energy where he stayed for a little less than a year to manage growth efforts. Watson realized that he had to find a way to help people going through a similar experience as him, which was not handling his personal finances smartly enough to pave the way for the next stage of his life.But success was still far from Watson’s grasp as his business ideas were rejected by every single investor he reached out to during this phase. People were simply “not interested” and not at all serious about financial planning services.
Then Watson crossed paths with Michael Furlong, a like-minded entrepreneur whose focus was finance and technology. Furlong had already established Sliced Investing, a platform to streamline investing which received backing from investors including Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator. Furlong was also ex-Citigroup and had a similar background as Watson which led them to collaborate and co-found Indio Technologies.
Although finding an investor was tough, he did not back down and continued his search. At a point, he was left with just $42 in his bank account and was not able to pay his rent. It was a crippling feeling. But fortunately, Watson heard from an investor who decided to give him a chance which was all that he needed to succeed.
“If folks aren’t learning how to manage their money in school and even the most financially-savvy people don’t know how to plan effectively, how can we expect the rest of us to figure it out?” – asked Matt Watson, the CEO of Origin.
Indio Technologies was created as a software platform for commercial insurance that helped agents and brokers to collect information belonging to the insured during new business and data gathering processes. Watson remained the co-founder and COO of Indio till 2018. In 3 years, Indio grabbed the attention of Applied Systems, one of the leading insurance agencies which acquired Indio through a definitive agreement in 2019.
"Generally large and growing employers help their employees understand their money better. And what we found was that there was a huge gap in the world where folks work very hard to make a great income. They have nowhere to go to talk to anyone about money without being, without having a product sold to them."- Matt Watson.
Amidst this, João de Paula was waiting for his chance to make an impact fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit. João opened his eyes in a small town just outside of São Paulo but that did not limit his abilities to create different business projects. From an early age, João has been a skilled coder who became the first Brazilian to be accepted at YCombinator. João started his career as a lawyer but slowly shifted to product & engineering where he gained experience for over 10 years to build consumer products.
It didn’t take João much time to realize that his expertise and interest lies in the marketplace, fintech, and e-commerce. The current CTO of Origin founded Glio in 2011 which started as an online platform for information and reviews for the Latin American market. João was joined by a former professional poker player and friend named Roberto Riccio who's following words “You didn’t have much value in an early-stage startup if you’re just a lawyer” acted as a catalyst for João’s decision to be an entrepreneur instead of a lawyer.
Though it eventually became the first Mexican-Brazilian company that got accepted in YCombinator, Glio's early days were rough as both the co-founders struggled to raise finances from potential investors and got their YCombinator applications rejected thrice. Finally, they got in the YC in September 2014 after their 4th attempt as a reward for their resilience. They searched for a third co-founder to handle technical development related to Glio but found no one. Ultimately, João decided to play the role of technical co-founder and dived into coding books and online courses, and became a self-taught programmer.
Roberto and João worked hard on Glio for 7 long years before taking the painstaking decision of shutting down the company. The duo felt it was impossible to get as much capital as they needed to transition their business into an e-commerce company while their competitors had deep pockets. The grueling state of affairs made João stay away from the startup ecosystem for no less than 6 months during which he experienced exhaustion and anxiety.
But eventually, João recovered and the Origin cofounders met for the first time during his visit to San Francisco who had gone through the same experience of financial stress while starting a company. At that time, Watson had been working on Origin’s idea and as he explained it to João, his interest grew. Joao eventually decided to become his co-founder to create a platform to solve people’s struggles related to financial uncertainty. According to João, it just made perfect sense to him because he felt an inner passion to create Origin.
What does Origin do??
Origin aims to become much more than a financial advice provider but it wants to build a happy, healthy, and productive workforce for its clients that could help them get their finances in perfect order through accessible, innovative, and customized solutions. The annual cost of employee financial stress is just above $500 billion at the moment but the situation could eventually get better if employers offer financial wellness to their employees because they deserve it since;
- An average employee spends 4 hours per week managing their personal finance at work.
- 40% of employees in the US have reported health issues and sleep deprivation due to financial stress.
- Financial stress makes employees leave their employer eventually.
- Employees combatting financial stress are 190% more likely to be depressed.
Employee’s happiness and job performance go hand in hand in the current scenario and Origin’s products and services could link the financial wellness of employees with an enterprise’s renewed growth.
“The easiest way to think about Origin is you use our service to get matched one-on-one with a certified financial planner. That’s your certified financial planner for you and your family.” Matt Watson
As a holistic financial support provider, one can request a free demo on Useorigin site by scheduling a call to see how it reduces the company’s burden and risks related to financial stress. Origin offers;
- Financial planning – for employees
- Total Rewards – for employers
“We are united by our mission to alleviate the stress and worry people have about their personal finances.” – Matt Watson
Brokers can connect through the use origin website to offer their clients complete financial coverage with a 1-on-1 approach that can be customized to prioritize their financial wellness. Expert financial planners and tax professionals are also an important part of the Origin layout. They utilize Origin’s global expertise to fulfill their employee’s financial planning requirements and to guide them responsibly on how to avoid financial risks under any circumstances.
"We want people to understand their equity more. And we want them to take advantage of their benefits, and we want to set them up for retirement. And as we looked at all the problems that people were trying to solve these companies. So many of these come back to financial stress."- Matt Watson
Market Growth, Competitors, Investors, and Partners
Origin has grown from a handful of people in its team to a full-fledged global team of remote workers some of which include top financial experts. They have recruited 71 in the company in the past that indicates consistent growth within the team.
“I think we have an opportunity to change the way the service is delivered and really change the way that adults in the United States think about financial planning”- Matt Watson
Apart from a great start, Origin funding has seen participation from several noteworthy investors like Felicis Ventures, General Catalyst, Founders Fund, and early Stripe employee Lachy Groom, 01A, and others within a year of its establishment. Except for the long-running Betterment, no other direct competitor of Origin has managed to increase their funding to more than a few million recently. It is an indication that Origin has been doing a great job at presenting itself on the right front and approaching the right kind of people under the supervision of experienced entrepreneur co-founders.
Origin partnered with Udemy which is a renowned open online course provider for professional adults and students during the mid of 2020. The partnership unfolded with Origin becoming Udemy employee’s go-to platform to manage everything related to finances. The partnership was initiated as Udemy wanted to increase employee benefits program to include personal finance needs and Origin was selected as a personal financial benefit and Total Rewards platform provider for over 900 working adults located across Bay Area, Denver, Ankara, Singapore, Dublin, and New Delhi. The partnership worked out as a successful case study now available on Origin’s website.
$76.5 Million and 3 Funding Rounds
Since it was founded, Origin has been funded thrice including its seed funding round that occurred in November 2019. After closing its recent and third funding round in August 2021, the benchmark valuation of the company has surpassed $402 million according to Oddup’s carefully picked data. The company has been funded by 7 investors all of whom are dedicated to the FinTech and insurance sector.
The company has acquired a total of 76.17 Oddup score which is a cumulative metric representing the overall health of an organization including the potential chances for a startup to grow and prosper in its relevant niche. Following is an overview of each of the funding rounds that Origin has gone through to date.
Seed - $8.5 Million
The seed funding round of Origin was held back in 2019 November. Around 6 potential investors participated during the seed funding round which was announced “closed” by November 15th after raising $8.5 million as the early financial support. The money raised helped Origin to continue supporting employee financial health. The seed funding round was led by Abstract Ventures which is known to be a sector agnostic venture investor.
Series A - $12 Million
The financial wellness provider went ahead and raised funding again in 2020 after a year of closing the seed round. During the Series A round, Origin raised $12 million from investors like General Catalyst, Lachy Groom, and Felicis Ventures. The company was barely a year old and consisted of 32 employees including 6 financial planners during the time the Series A of Origin funding round closed but it created a positive buzz within its relevant sector. The lead participant of Series A turned out to be Felicis Ventures. Felicis is a 2005-founded venture capital firm that focuses on early to growth-stage companies. The majority of the funds raised were used in the expansion and improvement of the Origin platform.
Series B - $56 Million
During August 2021 Origin announced a Series B funding round which raised $56 million through the participation of 6 investors including 01A’s Adam Bain, Dick Costolo, General Catalyst, Lachy Groom, and others. This round of finance turned out to be the highest-valued among the previous ones and is said to help the company to offer their expert solutions in a more comprehensive way to their global clientele. The Series B Origin funding round was led by none other than the former Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo.
“This funding will allow Origin to accelerate product innovation, invest in our team to keep up with the immense demand, and expand enterprise-grade products to support customers on a global scale.”- Matt Watson
Imminent Future of Origin
Since 2020, the company has increased its headcount triple fold to extend their financial planning network and are currently hiring more people talented & ambitious enough to become an “Original”. According to Watson, the CEO, and co-founder of Origin, the company is looking for passionate people around the world to be an indispensable part of its team. Now this company has grown to cater to significant and renowned clients like Udemy, Zynga, DocuSign, Blend that utilize Origin’s services to help their employees streamline every single financial obstruction.
Origin aims to get both Millenials and Gen Z employees on board with their unique product and services so that whatever the cause of their financial stress might be, are solved through expert planning. Companies that sign up with Origin are promised user growth, increase the employee adoption rate, and many more benefits. Origin achieved SOC 2 Type 2 certification according to a recent blog published by co-founder and CTO João de Paula, which is an industry-standard for companies dedicated to customer privacy and protection of data.
“We believe in creating a safe and secure financial environment and pushing our partners to follow best-in-class security practices.”- João de Paula