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The Catalyst Fund, managed by Bankable Frontier (BFA) and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co, will use Machine Learning to select financial inclusion startups for pre-seed funding.

Telefónica Open Future_ and BigML create PreSeries, a joint venture for early stage investment

Telefónica Open Future _ and BigML have created one of the first automated platforms that predict the probability that a startup, even in its very early stages, will be successful. Its first client, the Catalyst Fund, will employ the PreSeries Machine Learning technology to evaluate and select early stage startups for its fintech portfolio. Machine Learning promises to complement the human side of fund management and convert it into a highly efficient process. The predictive algorithms are capable of producing a score that investors can use to qualify startups for funding. Thus, the robust data could reduce biases in the selection of startups, lower management overhead and optimize monitoring and evaluation of the investment. Learn more by visiting this blog post.


PreSeries, a joint venture between BigML and Telefónica Open Future_, is the world’s first automated early stage investing tool built on top of BigML’s Machine Learning platform. The ever increasing data available about companies, people, successes and other events can be harnessed by the PreSeries Machine Learning technology to detect patterns that help investors:

  • Identify new potential investments
  • Track the performance of their portfolios
  • See the potential impact of certain decisions, such as new hires, company location and others

PreSeries starts accepting Beta requests on March 15, after the PAPIs Connect 2016 conference in Valencia, where the world’s first startup battle will take place and in which the winner will be chosen by the algorithm alone without any human intervention -- something that has never been done before.

For Ana Segurado, Telefónica Open Future_ Global Manager, this joint venture is a win-win for entrepreneurs and investors: “Early stage investing is very complicated, and even the brightest ideas can get nowhere due to a bad execution of their business plan. In the last years, we have seen that around 80% of the startups we meet fail in the first 5 years of development. With the implementation of this innovative and must have technology we can mitigate the risk involved in investing in new business and help the startups implement a better business model to secure their future, what will lead to optimize the business environment for the whole innovation ecosystem”.

Catalyst Fund is an innovative grant fund, managed by BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates) and fiscally sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, that deploys capital and advisory services to promising inclusive fintech startups to get investment ready. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, the fund also has the guidance of impact investors Accion, Omidyar Network, Gray Ghost Ventures and Quona Capital. The fund launched last December and will be active until end of 2018. While the Catalyst Fund and BigML collaboration will formally be announced at the PAPIs Connect conference, both parties will continue to explore ways to apply the PreSeries technology to other BFA fintech projects along with other partners.

“This approach could help trigger more investment in markets that are poorly served by venture capital. Thanks to the increasing adoption of smartphones, large amounts of user data are becoming available, which are tremendously valuable in better understanding low-income consumers and designing more appropriate products for them", says David Del Ser, Fintech Practice Director at BFA. “We are just beginning to learn how to unleash big data in financial inclusion and recognize the implications for economic development.”


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