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Monday I talked about the various verticals that startups “play” in. Including fintech, nanotech, insurtech, and more. Today I want to shine the spotlight on some of the startups from those verticals so that you can read for yourself the amazing companies that are working to solve the world’s biggest problems. Some of these startups are headquartered in the Southern United States, where much of the SouthFound community calls home, while others are in other parts of the U.S. or even global.

If you know anything about the investment advisory industry then you know that it is highly regulated. Advisors are required to meet all kinds of regulatory and compliance-based requirements that can make the managing of their office pretty burdensome. SmartRIA, led by Mac Bartine, is one startup that is hoping to make the business of being a financial advisors a bit easier. In the company’s own words, “our easy-to-use compliance software for teams includes fiduciary oversight, books and records, trade monitoring and vendor due diligence. With our RIA Registration and Compliance Consulting Services, RIAs now have an all-in-one compliance resource that is comprehensive, easy-to-use, and effective.”

One of the things I respect most about the company is how vision-focused they are. Particularly when it comes to how they treat their employees. If you are looking for a flexible workplace then take a look here to get a sense of SmartRIA’s culture.

SmartRIA is headquartered in Knoxville, TN and has been growing rapidly over the past few years.


Short for insurance technology, this vertical is all about disrupting the existing insurance companies. Insurtech solutions not only look to disrupt areas such as car insurance. They also are evolving solutions in the health insurance space and beyond.

It might be because I just finished editing my podcast interview with Anna Douglas of SkyNano Technology that I wanted to share her startup with you. Nanotech is one of the hotter of the startup vertical and SkyNano is doing great things in the sector. In fact, Anna was recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

The company uses “patent-pending technology developed at Vanderbilt University, our technique overcomes cost and scaleability limitations associated with traditional manufacturing techniques, while also giving commercial viability to carbon conversion technologies through the introduction of a high-value secondary material produced from greenhouse gas inputs. Our technique relies on electrochemistry, rather than solely catalysis, and results in a highly efficient process to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful functional nanomaterials.”


The team over at 490 Biotech is doing some pretty cool things. They have even had some of their experiments loaded on recent SpaceX missions and carried to the International Space Station. I had the pleasure of working with this startup while managing the Fairview Technology Center incubator where 490 Biotech is headquartered.

In their own words the company “develops patent protected light-emitting human cell lines genetically programmed to ‘report’ on biological events or interactions that affect their metabolic status. The incorporation of these cell lines into cell culture and small animal preclinical efficacy/toxicity testing models is designed to accelerate the pace of new drug discovery and move drugs more rapidly and more effectively towards Phase I human testing with a reduced overall cost.”


I have no idea how I had gone so long without hearing about Gusto. I found this “startup” while doing research for this article. It is hard to call them a startup since, according to Crunchbase, they are now valued at around $10B. Which makes them a 10x unicorn.

Gusto provides health insurance benefits to small businesses. Among other services. One of Gusto’s market channels is to partner with accountants to offer their solutions. If you are an accountant and looking to expand your vendor network click here.


HelloHome, founded by Jessica Bluffington, is looking to improve the house-selling process. Whereas some real estate companies offer “discount” pricing that comes with very little in the way of other services, HelloHome offers fix rate pricing that includes virtually anything you could need to sell your home. Including a handy dashboard to help you manage the process.

In the queue

In the next article I’m going to share with you some of my favorite startup resources and news outlets.

Written by

I’m a former C-level banking exec. and 3x startup founder leading a corporate innovation/product team and have helped companies raise over $500M in funding.

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