How Moven, a venture-backed mobile banking app, landed in suburban Philly - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 18, 2014 8:29 am

How Moven, a venture-backed mobile banking app, landed in suburban Philly

After closing an $8 million Series A, the New York-based Moven is letting its new CTO build a product team on the Main Line.

Moven is a mobile banking app.

(Photo courtesy of Moven)

One of the latest entrants to the Philadelphia tech scene isn’t a fresh-faced team of founders with an idea, searching for customers and investors. It’s a mobile banking app called Moven, fresh off an $8 million Series A, that boasts thousands of customers.

The company, whose business leadership is based in New York City, is building a product team in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Led by newly-instated Moven CTO (and lifelong Philadelphian) Robert Savino, the team is growing from the ground up: the product team that built Moven’s initial app, made up of contractors and full-time software developers, was dissolved a few weeks ago, Savino said. He’s looking to hire between eight and 15 people this year, depending on how the company’s expansion efforts go. That team will build on the first iteration of Moven’s app.

bob savino

Robert Savino. (Photo courtesy of Robert Savino)

Savino, 38, of Malvern, is searching for an office space in the Radnor/Wayne area so he can tap into talent from the suburbs, the city and Wilmington, which is a goldmine of bank technologists, he said.

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Moven is a mobile-first bank account. Through your phone, you can open the account, deposit money and send money to friends (while Moven sends you a debit card, Moven itself is not a bank; its accounts are backed by Kansas-based CBW Bank). The mobile app also offers financial management tools (think Mint.com). It competes with Simple, which was acquired for $117 million in early 2014.

The main sell for companies like Simple and Moven is that they offer a user-friendly mobile banking product, with no monthly fees, unlike many of the banking giants out there.

While its current business is a business-to-consumer play, the company is using the money from its most recent raise to launch partnerships with banks — integrating with their technology to reach more customers (they call it “business to business to consumer”). The first of this kind of partnership will be in New Zealand. Because of this, Savino said he’ll be recruiting “more mature” employees who have experience working with enterprise technology.

One of the primary reasons Moven is building a product team here is because of Savino’s tie to the area. Savino, a Penn State grad who cut his teeth at Jenkintown-based early ecommerce company ICG Commerce and Wilmington online banking pioneer Wingspan Bank, did not want to move.

It's good to be a 'big fish in a small pond' when it comes to attracting talent, said Moven CTO Robert Savino. It's also cheaper to hire developers here.

But it wasn’t a hard sell to the company’s leadership, he said.

For one, it’s good to be a “big fish in a small pond” when it comes to attracting talent, he said. It’s also cheaper to hire developers here, he added.

Company leadership was actually “more concerned about growing out a bigger team in New York,” Savino said, because of how expensive it is to do so.

Moven’s office in New York consists of business leadership and a customer service team.

Savino’s already hired three full-time employees, including a former Capital One product manager and a former Chariot Solutions enterprise architect. Former Artisan developer Michael Raber will work on the team as a contractor, as will Chariot Solutions.

Savino is excited about the prospect of growing Moven, especially because of his history in the online banking world.

“We spent $100 million before our first customer came through the door at Wingspan,” he said, referring to a change in the technology world that investor Josh Kopelman often talks about: the ever-lowering barrier to entry.

But today, Moven acquired thousands of customers after only $4.4 million in seed funding.

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