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The 2016 Fintech Finance 35: Justin Brownhill and Neil DeSena

< Fintech's Most Powerful Dealmakers of 2016
16. Justin Brownhill &
Neil DeSenaManaging Partners SenaHill PartnersLast year: 19

Operating as an investment bank, principal investor, strategic adviser, and business accelerator, SenaHill Partners gets a lot of mileage out of just 14 people. “We’re hiring,” managing partner Justin Brownhill says — an auspicious indicator for the New York firm and perhaps for fintech deal flow overall. Founded by Brownhill and co–managing partner Neil DeSena in 2013, SenaHill is staffed by people with extensive banking, brokerage, and operational experience, further leveraged by an adviser network of dozens of industry veterans, who contribute strategic insights and help identify and vet investment candidates. “Two to three generations of knowledge,” hands-on experience and a roll-up-the-sleeves attitude set SenaHill apart, says Brownhill, 45, who was an investor in and executive at Lava Trading, which Citigroup acquired in 2004, and CEO of the Receivables Exchange from 2007 to 2012. “Venture capital in financial technology is a journey, not a me-too business,” says DeSena, 52, who started the REDI institutional trading business in 1992 and ran it until 2006, the last six years as part of Goldman Sachs Group. “ ‘Five years and exit’ isn’t the way it works.” SenaHill’s 22-company portfolio includes investment research and analytics site Market Realist, where Brownhill is a board member; blockchain smart-contracts company Symbiont, where DeSena is a director and former Morgan Stanley capital markets executive Caitlin Long recently became chairman and president; and WealthForge, a private capital–raising platform that placed third in last year’s UBS Future of Finance Challenge (see Hyder Jaffrey, No. 30). Another holding, know-your-customer platform Trunomi, represents “reg tech,” the emerging regulatory-and-compliance category that Brownhill and DeSena are following alongside other fintech themes in capital markets, banking and payments, insurance, wealth management, and infrastructure. “The interest is now top-down,” Brownhill observes, referring to incumbent financial services companies’ openness to investing in or partnering with entrepreneurs. “They are hiring us to connect them with young, emerging technologies.” Says DeSena: “The incumbents need help. Their budgets are big but shrinking.”


 The 2016 Fintech Finance 35 Click below to view profiles
1. Jonathan KorngoldGeneral Atlantic2. Matthew HarrisBain Capital Ventures3. Jane GladstoneEvercore Partners4. James Robinson III & James
Robinson IV
RRE Ventures5. Steven McLaughlinFinancial Technology Partners6. Amy Nauiokas & Sean ParkAnthemis Group
7. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital8. Gerard
von Dohlen
Broadhaven Capital Partners9. Darren CohenGoldman Sachs Group10. Hans MorrisNyca Partners11. Meyer (Micky) MalkaRibbit Capital12. Maria GotschPartnership Fund for New York City
13. Barry SilbertDigital Currency Group14. Jay ReinemannPropel Venture Partners15. Mariano BelinkySantander InnoVentures16. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSenaSenaHill Partners17. François RobinetAXA Strategic Ventures18. Vanessa ColellaCiti Ventures
19. Michael SchleinAccion International20. Kenneth MarlinMarlin & Associates21. Rumi MoralesCME Ventures22. Alastair (Alex) RampellAndreessen Horowitz23. Steve GibsonEuclid Opportunities24. Fabian VandenreydtSWIFT
25. Vladislav SolodkiyLife.SREDA26. Gardiner Garrard IIITTV Capital27. Nektarios LioliosStartupbootcamp Fintech28. Lawrence WintermeyerInnovate Finance29. Bina KalolaBank of America Merrill Lynch30. Hyder JaffreyFintech Innovation
31. Calvin ChoiAMTD Group32. Janos BarberisFinTech
Hong Kong33. Jalak JobanputraFuture Perfect Ventures34. Sopnendu MohantyMonetary Authority of Singapore35. Oskar Mielczarek
de la Miel
Rakuten
FinTech Fund