Two seasoned entrepreneurs with vast experience in online education and finance in Latin America are the fuel behind Dvdendo
With a financial platform targeting U.S. Hispanic and Latin American consumers, Dvdendo empowers people who have never had the possibility to invest before to easily and automatically invest in in some of the world’s greatest companies. The Coral Gables fintech company blends investment education with smart and effortless access.
“Our grand vision is to empower the Hispanic community to become investors in the U.S.A. There are cultural barriers and challenges but that is the opportunity that we see,” said CEO Gabriel Montoya, who founded the company with Matthew Meehan. “If you have $5, you can be an investor, that’s our message.”
Prior to Dvdendo, Montoya was the CEO of Next University, an online technology education startup focused on Latin America that was acquired by Open English. For 20 years before that, he was an executive for Cisneros Group and in his last role there he managed the company’s investment portfolio. Meehan, Dvdendo’s president, spent many years as a portfolio manager and trader focused on Latin American ﬁnancial markets.
Empowering companies to run data-driven businesses and to make powerful real-time decisions is what these Miami entrepreneurs are enabling with their technology.
In 2017, Dvdendo raised $1.5 million in venture funding and launched the platform for U.S. Hispanics in July. That month the startup opened just 48 accounts, but December’s total was 3,000. Then in the first two weeks of January, 6,000 accounts were opened, helped immensely by a national Univision feature airing on Jan. 9. Said Montoya: “That really opened the floodgates.”
Today Dvdendo has more than 30,000 accounts registered and half of those customers are already investing. “That is testament to the level of interest, desire and need this community has in a product like this,” Montoya said.
Now the startup is also targeting Latin Americans with accounts in the U.S., not the wealthy but the middle class families who might visit Miami and on their way to Disney World open a bank account in Brickell. The next goal is servicing Latin Americans in Latin America, but that’s a bigger challenge because of enhanced “Know Your Customer” rules and higher money transfer fees. “We haven’t solved the cost issue yet but we’re working on it,” Montoya said.
On Dvdendo, users who open an account are recommended a stock and bond portfolio of ETFs according to their risk profile. Users can automate the process of saving money for investments – the “Pay Yourself First” principal – and can also literally invest their spare change by rounding up credit card purchases. Accounts compound without them even thinking it.
Dvdendo charges $1 a month membership fee for accounts up to $5,000; for larger accounts the fee is 0.25 percent annually. “When you compare this to any investment platform out there, it’s a very good deal,” Montoya said.
In the first quarter, Dvdendo plans to launch a complementary education platform with a personal finance course covering all the basics.
Dvdendo has a team of 8 full-timers and 2 part-timers in its Coral Gables headquarters, Medellin and Buenos Aires. The startup raised $1.5 million last year in a venture round and is seeking to raise $3 to $5 million this year to fund growth. Montoya wouldn’t disclose revenues but said he projected a run rate of a million dollars or more by the end of the year.
“There’s nothing like what we do,” Montoya said. “Dvdendo is a huge equalizer. Now people can participate, they don’t need to be experts, they don’t have to have a lot of money and they can still be a part of it. That’s important, that makes you feel like you are building something that really matters.”