Will you venture with us? How Embedded Banking and Machine Learning will empower you to prioritize your wellbeing

2023

Will you venture with us? How Embedded Banking and Machine Learning will empower you to prioritize your wellbeing

Written by Bray Wilcock, Makela Pichler and Geoff Momin

In the past year, while building Bloomy as first time founders, we’ve delved into countless white papers, articles and startup requests from leaders we look up to: operators, fellow founders and venture capitalists. Time and again, this content has resonated with our vision in such a way, it's as if it’s speaking directly to us. It became readily apparent that we needed to communicate our view of the future in a similar format that rings true with this wider audience.

In laying out our vision here, we hope to articulate a solution we are dedicated to bringing to life, seeking understanding, feedback and collaboration from you. This is a request for you to venture with us.

Why Embedded Banking

While certainly a buzzword today, embedded banking isn't a new concept. Transactions are becoming seamlessly integrated into our daily interactions, making the movement of money and the exchange of goods and services faster and more reliable. Brands like Starbucks and Target have harnessed its power, and newer entrants like Ansa are making it accessible for smaller businesses to utilize, focusing on coffee shops first. 

Bloomy distinguishes ourselves in this landscape by focusing our mission on the end consumer in a specific vertical, consumer wellness. Matt Brown, a partner at Matrix VC, wrote recently about how the next big fintechs will win with novel distribution, not novel products, “The great distribution edge will be found in embedded fintech: the distribution of financial products through non-financial companies. It’s no longer about building novel products and bringing users to them, but bringing products to where users already are.”1

Our mission at Bloomy is to empower people to proactively take care of their mental and physical wellbeing. We’re building vertically embedded banking where many Americans already are but more importantly, we’re building where many want to be. Lululemon’s Global Wellbeing Report for 2023 stated that 67% of people place wellbeing as a top priority in their life, however only 12% believe their wellbeing is where it should be and 51% are not financially able to prioritize their wellbeing.2 Our goal is to democratize access and empower our Members to be at the top of their game, both mentally and physically, by providing motivation, incentives, rewards and support for healthier living through our platform, embedded banking and community.

In order to best serve our Members, it has been imperative for us to build on the business side of the wellness vertical as well. M13’s Karim Bhalwani sees a major opportunity here too, “embedded finance players at the orchestration layer are advantageously positioned to offer financial products to the specific industries they serve.”3 We’ve created massive net benefits for consumer businesses focused on delivering products, services and experiences aimed at improving their customers' health and wellness, from drastic reduction in customer acquisition costs to reduced interchange fees.

Consumer Benefit + Revenue

Joining Bloomy is straightforward. To become a Bloomy Member, individuals commit to taking care of their mental and physical wellbeing. They pledge a minimum of $150 a month towards their health and wellness, which is deposited on their Bloomy Card, an embedded checking account and debit card. 

In return, we offer a suite of benefits to help them do just that. Members enjoy exclusive perks, including discounts with our partners and a 1% match on every dollar deposited. Furthermore, we incentivize health and wellness purchases by rewarding up to 5% cashback. Lastly, with 70% of people agreeing that employers have a responsibility to improve employee wellbeing,2 we’ve built features to enable wellness stipend deposits and corporate matching contributions to Bloomy Accounts, mirroring traditional benefits, such as 401k matches.

The perks of Bloomy Membership extend beyond financial incentives. Our weekly newsletters and social media platforms are treasure troves of information, from local wellness events to product highlights. Our curated discovery platform, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, connects members to a vast network of wellness brands, events and experiences globally. Whether you're looking for a retreat in Bali or a local meditation class, Bloomy has you covered. Our community is vibrant and intertwined throughout the wellness vertical, having already created hundreds of friendships, romantic relationships and business partnerships. 

On the consumer revenue side of things, Bloomy has two main revenue streams: interest and interchange. Interest is generated from Member deposits, while interchange fees are collected on Bloomy Card transactions.

Partnering with Wellness Businesses 

Our dedication to driving value for our partner businesses is paramount to providing our Members a top notch experience. We harness the rich transaction data from our platform to provide insights on spending patterns and customer behaviors, facilitating personalized omni-channel marketing campaigns tailored to specific segments. 

Partners can also extend exclusive offers to Bloomy Members, further incentivizing purchases. We continually emphasize customer engagement, offering features and opportunities exclusive to Bloomy that foster continued loyalty and repeat business.

Utilizing embedded banking, any consumer wellness business can open a Bloomy Deposit Account and accept transactions through our platform. Taking inspiration from Starbucks and Venmo, when a Bloomy Member pays a business through our platform the interchange fee drops by over 60%, significantly increasing that business’ bottom line. 

As an example, if Whoop were to partner with us and have their Members transact with Bloomy, they would save over $2.2 Million each year in interchange fees while concurrently saving Whoop Members $26.40 on their Annual Membership through deposit matching and cashback, just over 11%. Extrapolated across the wellness vertical, this will catalyze massive growth and democratize access to these technologies, healing modalities and life changing experiences.

We have built seamlessly integrated sign up methods for businesses to have their customers become Bloomy Members at the point of sale, both online and in person, so those businesses and their customers can instantly benefit from Bloomy’s platform and embedded banking. On the business revenue side of things, Bloomy derives revenue mainly from interest, interchange, platform and marketing fees.  

In creating this closed loop payment system, we are removing unnecessary intermediaries and lowering the costs for both the consumer and the business. An important additional benefit is the inherent reduction of fraud. By integrating our KYC, KYB and closed loop payment system we greatly enhance fraud protection for the entire ecosystem.

Why Machine Learning: Transaction Data & Artificial Intelligence

This past week, Mercedes Bent and Justin Overdorff, partners at Lightspeed Venture Partners, wrote about how we are entering a 3rd era of Consumer Fintech, "we think the next phase will be defined by AI-enabled applications in wealth and spend. And these are increasingly consolidated in vertical superapps."4

Behind the scenes at Bloomy lies our machine learning architecture, which meticulously analyzes user engagement and spending habits. This system captures data ranging from preferences, clickstreams and search queries on our website to detailed transaction records, concurrently ensuring the data's privacy and security. 

Through careful preprocessing, feature engineering and deployment of collaborative filtering and clustering algorithms, we can discern customer interests with remarkable precision. This analysis feeds into our recommendation engine, creating a uniquely personalized experience for our Members while simultaneously providing valuable insights for our partner businesses.

Bloomy collects data on user engagement and spending habits to produce a vector representation of each user. Bloomy has developed multi-layered proximity graphs to search through and identify similar vectors, thereby continuously clustering users by way of Approximate Nearest Neighbors.

The top layer in a graph contains the vertices that have the largest proximity between them. These points represent broad relationships between the vectors, our Members. Each layer corresponds to narrowing proximity between each vertex representing Members that are more aligned with their preferences and spending habits.

With the focus of our mission, Bloomy is building this machine learning architecture to empower our Members to discover and utilize wellness services, experiences and products that matter most to them and their wellbeing. By surfacing their spending patterns and having continual check ins across their experience regarding goals, preferences and more, our Members' wellbeing is supercharged by this artificial intelligence and machine learning architecture.

_____________

We hope you can see the unlimited potential of our vision in building the future of commerce that empowers people to proactively take care of themselves, powered by state-of-the-art technology. As we journey towards this ambitious future, we invite you to venture with us.

We're currently raising our Seed round. If you’re interested in what we’re building, please reach out to Bray at bray@hibloomy.com

This is part one of an ongoing series. Next up is customer acquisition, marketing and how we’re working with creators & influencers.

About Us

Bray, a former US Marine Infantry Captain, brings a wealth of strategy, ops & leadership experience gained while leading teams of Marines on global deployments. His commitment to mental and physical wellbeing was ignited after losing three Marines he was close with to suicide. He's helped build four early-stage startups as a chief of staff and Venture Studio operator.

Geoff, with a background in AI and Fintech, has applied his expertise to creating secure financial data pipelines for major institutions. His CTO experience includes scaling startups from 0 to $1M+ ARR, with a focus on leveraging technology to improve his customers' lives. He started as a Nuclear Engineer but prefers his time in saunas much more.

Makela, bringing over 11 years of brand and marketing experience with renowned companies like Nike and Diageo along with half a dozen startups, embarked on a journey into wellness inspired by personal health challenges. She's become an advocate for authentic, community-driven movements aimed at enhancing wellbeing.

Makela, Bray and Geoff

References and Inspiration:

1 Matt Brown “The Iron Triangle of Embedded Fintech” Matrix VC, July 31, 2023. https://notes.mtb.xyz/p/iron-triangle-embedded-fintech

2 Lululemon “2023 Global Wellbeing Report” https://corporate.lululemon.com/~/media/Files/L/Lululemon/investors/annual-reports/lululemon-2023-global-wellbeing-report.pdf

3 Karim Bhalwani “The Thesis Driving M13's Fintech Investment Strategy” M13, March 28, 2023. https://m13.co/article/fintech-investment-strategy-m13

4 Mercedes Bent and Justin Overdorff "The Sophistication Era of Consumer Fintech" Lightspeed Venture Partners, September 28, 2023. https://lsvp.com/the-sophistication-era-of-consumer-fintech/

Shaun Callaghan, Martin Lösch, Jonathan Medalsy, Anna Pione, and Warren Teichner  “Still feeling good: The US wellness market continues to boom” McKinsey, September 19, 2022. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/still-feeling-good-the-us-wellness-market-continues-to-boom

Shaun Callaghan, Martin Lösch, Anna Pione, and Warren Teichner “Feeling good: The future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market” McKinsey, April 8, 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights /feeling-good-the-future-of-the-1-5-trillion-wellness-market

Richard Kerby “More Vertical Fintech, Please” Equal Ventures, February 23, 2023. https://medium.com/@EqualVentures/more-vertical-fintech-please-9857128b6eea

Gwen Sandberg “Vertical Fintech is the new Vertical SaaS” Inventure VC, February 14, 2023. https://blog.inventure.vc/vertical-fintech-is-the-new-vertical-saas-6b0cr90992bf0

Yasmin Moaven “Why every vertical software company should launch a capital offering” August 30, 2023. https://www.fintechnexus.com/why-every-vertical-software-company-should-launch-a-capital-offering/

Zeeza Cole “The Current State of Vertical SaaS” Bain Capital Ventures, March 9, 2023. https://baincapitalventures.com/insight/the-current-state-of-vertical-soaas/

Kristina Shen, Kimberly Tan, Seema Amble, and Angela Strange “Fintech Scales Vertical SaaS” Andreesen Horowitz, August 4, 2020. https://a16z.com/fintech-scales-vertical-saas/

Jenny Johnston and Nik Milanović “Envisioning the Future of Money Movement” This Week in Fintech in association with Visa, June 20, 2023. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nq_rccqfEjEFcoCWB7CNWKF_uBtwiQsU/edit

Disclaimer: All brand names, logos and/or trademarks are the property of their respective owners, and do not necessarily imply product endorsement or partnership.