When bitcoin crossed a market capitalization of $1 trillion in mid-February, the milestone signified to the world that the cryptocurrency is no longer just a novelty or passing trend. After all, it has only been about a decade since a man bought two pizzas with 10,000 bitcoins that are now worth more than $550,000.
M13’s investment thesis is all about supporting founding teams that will help shape consumer behavior over the next 10 years, which includes investing in fintech companies like River Financial that are revolutionizing the financial services industry.
Founded in 2019, River Financial is transforming the way that retail investors can manage their bitcoin holdings while taking advantage of private banking services. We’re excited to be part of River Financial’s $12 million Series A, which was led by Goldcrest Capital with participation from Polychain Capital, Craft Ventures, Castle Island, and The Kraft Group.
Building a bank for Bitcoiners
River Financial’s mission is to build the first bitcoin-focused private banking service in order to provide private individual investors with more accessibility to traditional private banking solutions backed by their bitcoin asset holdings.
By setting themselves up as a full-service bank for Bitcoiners, River Financial aims to create a premium experience that appeals to individuals who are looking to invest some of their holdings into bitcoin as a potential digital gold standard.
River Financial’s current flagship product is a bitcoin brokerage that offers:
- White-glove service: High-net-worth clients especially appreciate getting paired with a designated private client advisor.
- Performance-tracking tools: River Financial created a suite of financial tools (including tax lot analysis and monthly account statements) that feels familiar to traditional investors who are new to bitcoin.
- Educational resources: River Learn, the company’s learning center for retail investors, helps explain the basics of buying and storing bitcoin.
At the time of the investment, River was licensed to provide banking services in 34 states across the U.S. Closing the investment allows them to immediately expand into 49 states in the coming months, and then to ultimately secure approval to fully operate in New York State later in the year. This expansion immediately increases the serviceable market for River significantly, allowing for accelerated growth as more customers will have access to the company's unique services and platform.
Getting to know the crypto community of entrepreneurs
Crypto and more specifically bitcoin has a tightly knit community of entrepreneurs who are building the platforms and infrastructure that we expect will define digital currency in the years to come.
Founder and CEO Alex Leishman is a key member of that community and is highly regarded by other entrepreneurs in the space. Furthermore, his product has proven to be highly engaging, and his focus on service quality and orientation has captured the imagination and engagement of a dedicated audience of bitcoin enthusiasts.
We first met digitally, but the real opportunity to get to know one another was throughout a day of socially distanced working sessions and a dinner that we enjoyed in Miami toward the end of 2020. Alex and River Financial’s Co-founder and COO Andrew Benson came to my home, and we pulled out a big whiteboard and jammed for a few hours on organizational build and how the company would evolve over time.
In meeting and spending time with Alex, it was clear that River has been a lifelong mission for him—not just a trend that he might tap into. (He started out as a cryptography researcher at Stanford University and then landed at Airbnb as a security software engineer. Alex then focused on bitcoin while working as an engineer and investor at Polychain Capital, where he built a secure infrastructure for asset management.) As such, Alex’s knowledge of the space and commitment to the success of the platform was unquestionable.
What we also recognized was although Alex was a very strong leader with a clear vision, he was also very open to identifying the right sources of support and leveraging those to help build the best company possible. This is a philosophy we truly believe in at M13, and we felt that River would be a great fit for our fund and for the support we can offer through our Propulsion activities.
We’re proud to participate in River Financial’s Series A, which will allow the company to expand to a team of 30-plus people, improve its digital product offerings, and focus on expanding its reach to the whole of the U.S market.
Congratulations to Alex, Andrew, and the rest of the River Financial team—we can’t wait to see what other industry-changing solutions are on the horizon as you help traditional investors who are new to bitcoin invest with more confidence.
To learn more about M13’s investments, please sign up for our newsletter. Explore open jobs at River Financial, and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.