Frequently Asked Questions
What is the goal of the Financial Solutions Lab?
The Lab aims to stimulate ideas, build products, and encourage organizations to improve the financial health of Americans. We seek to highlight and bring national attention to products and companies that embrace inclusion; build trust; promote success; and create opportunity, and solve important financial challenges that Americans face.
Who is behind the program?
The Financial Solutions Lab is managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase.
What do CFSI and JPMorgan Chase get out of this?
CFSI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to improve the financial health of Americans, especially the underserved, by shaping a robust and innovative financial services marketplace with increased access to higher quality products and practices. The Lab will help achieve CFSI’s vision of a financially-healthy America where people’s day-to-day financial system functions well and increases the likelihood of long-term resilience and opportunity.
JPMorgan Chase’s support of the Financial Solutions Lab is a part of its broader commitment to helping people better understand and manage their finances to secure their futures. It aims to tackle this challenge by investing in the development of affordable, easy-to-use and technology-driven consumer products and services designed to meet consumer needs, expanding the availability of these innovative products and services around the world and informing community partners and providers by sharing best practices to enhance financial capability efforts.
What is the 2017 challenge?
For the Lab’s third challenge, we will select an elite group of for-profit and not-for-profit innovators that are building products or services that improve American’s financial health. Learn more about on our Challenge page.
How can I stay up to date about innovations that improve Americans' financial health?
Sign up for our mailing list. We will send you relevant information about consumer financial health and the Financial Solutions Lab.
How can I participate if I don’t have a startup or work for a non-profit?
When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall selection timeline?
- February 7 – Begin accepting applications
- March 16 – First application deadline
- Early April – First round finalists interviews and pitches
- April 27 – Second application deadline
- Mid May – Second round finalists interviews and pitches
- June 15-16 – Public announcement of winners at CFSI’s EMERGE: Consumer Financial Health Forum
- June 2017 – February 2018 – FinLab Program
What is the difference between the two application deadlines?
In order to ensure that we have adequate time to review all of the applications to the Lab, this year we will have two application deadlines. Those applications that are received by March 16, will be reviewed in late March to early April. Those received by April 27 will be reviewed in early May.
There may be a slight advantage to applying early, simply because there are the most spots available in the beginning of the process rather than the end.
What is Reviewr? Why am I directed there to submit my application?
Reviewr is the 3rd-party application platform for the Lab – they accept applications for many programs globally.
What if I do not have a recorded demo?
Sending a demo is optional but has the potential to aid your application chances.
I already submitted my application but I need to update it. How do I do that?
Email FinLab@cfsinnovation.com from the email address you listed on your application. Make sure you reference your organization’s name.
For what reason do you want to know about our impact?
We are looking to capture the variety of methods by which organizations are assessing their impact on consumers.
Where can I upload supplemental material to my application?
We prefer URLs to materials. Try posting to Dropbox, Google Drive, or other online file storage tools—most will allow you to send a URL from there.
Who is allowed to apply?
The challenge is open to most for-profit and nonprofit organizations that are incorporated or organized in the U.S. Take a look at the Program Rules to see the specific requirements.
Do we have to be U.S. citizens?
No, but your organization’s product or service should serve U.S. consumers and you should be eligible to work in the U.S.
Is my organization “too far along” or “too early” to apply?
Everyone is eligible to apply. Keep in mind that our selection criteria will tend to favor organizations that have a product in market – even if in a beta or pilot stage.
My startup has already taken some funding. Can we still apply?
Can we participate without moving to your location?
Yes—in fact that is the only option. We quite purposefully operate virtually. We are looking for organizations that have products or services in market and teams that are working hard to keep improving those products. We do not think it makes sense to stop what you are doing and relocate. Stay where you are, keep doing what you are doing, and we will meet in person from time to time.
I am or my organization is a client of JPMorgan Chase, does that affect my eligibility?
Being a client of JPMorgan Chase does not affect your eligibility.
Can I participate in the Lab if I have done or will be part of an incubator, accelerator, or other similar program?
You can indeed participate in the Lab while also enrolled in another program as long as you are able and committed to participating in the Lab’s events, both in person and virtually.
What other materials will you request?
If you are selected as a finalist, we will request a financial statement, ask that you complete a profile/questionnaire, and schedule a follow up call or site-visit in April or May.
Will you sign an NDA?
Due to the volume of applicants, we will not sign an NDA during the initial application phase. Take a look at the Program Rules to see the extent to which we will be able to keep application information confidential.
Can two organizations co-apply for a joint product or service?
Yes. Just make sure you list a preferred point of contact for the application process in case we have questions.
I’m not sure if my organization is a perfect fit for this Challenge. What should we do?
You should apply. We are open to seeing a broad set of solutions for this Challenge. More importantly, if you’re an entrepreneur with a product that helps American consumers with their money, we want to know about you. This application process will help us understand the landscape of like-minded organizations for whom way may be able to provide support and resources in the future, whether through a future challenge or in another way.
How will you decide what companies or organizations are accepted into the program?
We will select organizations based on the organization’s fit with the program that we define as the following.
- Consumer Impact: Product or service improve financial health of American consumers
- Quality of Product: Product or service aligns with CFSI’s Compass Principles
- Management team: Huge ambition and the technical capability to achieve it
- Scalability: Product or service has the potential to serve a national market
- Degree of innovativeness: Represents a new idea or is a significant improvement over existing products
- Engagement: Team demonstrates a desire to take advantage of the Lab’s resources
When will participants be informed that they have been selected?
Round 1 applicants will be notified about the status of their application around the end of March. Advancing applicants will then be invited to a selection event in early April. Logistical details will be shared with advancing applicants.
Round 2 applicants will be notified about the status of their application around mid May. Advancing applicants will then be invited to a selection event in late May. Logistical details will be shared with advancing applicants.
If my company is not based in the city of the selection event, will you pay for me to attend the selection event?
Yes. We will provide a stipend if travel is required.
Will selected companies’ solutions ever overlap with other participants’? Will you select direct competitors?
Our selection process is meritocratic – we will pick the teams we think fit best in solving the challenge of improving the financial health of Americans and will best benefit from the Lab. While it is unlikely, it is possible that direct competitors are selected.
Does having a prior or existing relationship to CFSI impact FinLab selection?
No. While we encourage organizations of all types to engage with CFSI to help us improve consumer financial health, prior or existing relationships with CFSI will not positively or negatively impact selection for the Financial Solutions Lab. Examples of potential relationships include being part of CFSI’s Financial Health Network, attending EMERGE and/or being a customer of CFSI Consulting.
How long is the program and what is the time commitment?
The Lab is an eight-month program. Participants are expected to attend in-person events every four to eight weeks. Dates and locations of these meetings will be provided to Lab participants at the outset of the program. There may be some virtual requirements as well (e.g., check-in calls). The first program meeting will be in late July / early August. The location is TBD.
Who is expected to participate at program events?
Each time we meet in-person, we expect people from each organization who have full say in making strategic and day-to-day decisions (e.g. CEO).
How much capital will CFSI provide and what does CFSI expect in return?
$250,000. If you are applying as a for-profit company, CFSI will work with you to determine the most effective way to deploy that capital to maximize impact.
What if I am applying as a nonprofit?
Nonprofit Lab participants will receive the same amount, $250,000, structured as a grant, with some restrictions to ensure maximum impact.
Where are you based?
CFSI is based in Chicago, with offices in New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Sign up for our mailing list and follow our blog to learn about events our team is attending.
My question is not answered here. How do I get more information?
Email your questions to Asad Ramzanali (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will try to help. We will also update these FAQs periodically.
Disclaimer: These FAQs are only intended to provide interpretive information regarding the challenge; they do not modify, supersede, or supplement any portion of the challenge’s official Program Rules or other documents on our Legal page.