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. Were 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 comanaging 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 isnt the way it works. SenaHills 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 capitalraising platform that placed third in last years 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