Arlington’s First Rate Launches $25M VC Fund to Boost Seed-Stage Fintech Startups

First Rate Ventures says it's the first fintech-focused venture capital firm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that will focus on investments in early-stage startups in wealth, investment, regulatory, and mortgage technologies.

Arlington-based First Rate, which provides technology and services to wealth management companies, is launching what it’s calling the first fintech-focused venture capital firm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Operating under the name First Rate Ventures, the corporate VC fund is committed to deploying $25 million in capital over the next three years.

Its primary focus will be on high-potential startups in the seed stage—those with proven early traction—that operate wealth, investment, regulatory, or mortgage technologies. The firm aims to lead investments in early-stage startups based in North America, Europe, or Asia.

The fund builds on First Rate’s three decades-plus experience in providing technology that helps manage, build, and grow trust, banking, and advisory businesses. The company has served some 500 banks and wealth managers with more than $2.4 trillion in collective assets.

That’s why the team believes in First Rate Ventures’ potential: First Rate will lend its expertise as a trusted brand that supports the broader wealth management ecosystem.

First Rate President Craig Wietz [Photo: First Rate]

“I’m delighted to announce First Rate Ventures as another opportunity showcasing First Rate’s investment into innovation and expansion into new markets,” First Rate President Craig Wietz said in a statement. “We’re excited to enhance our portfolio of solutions and partner with founders and entrepreneurs who share these goals to drive emerging and innovative solutions.”

Offering tech assets, bank connections, and data security

In addition to capital, First Rate Ventures will offer its portfolio companies technology assets, connections to top bank and wealth management firms, and a data security infrastructure. The team said the firm wants to be a “strategic guide” in a startup’s roadmap to accelerated growth.

They plan to invest “with the long term in mind,” focusing on sustainable scaling.

Driving First Rate Ventures is Marshall Smith, a 15-year industry veteran who previously played pivotal roles in developing First Rate’s product roadmap and global expansion. Most recently, he served as chief operating officer overseeing all First Rate operations and service units.

Prabhakar Reddy, founding partner of Stride Growth Partners, will serve as First Rate Ventures’ strategic advisor. Reddy has more than two decades of fintech and VC experience: He’s also the co-founder and managing partner of Naya Ventures, former CEO of Motivity Labs, and an operating partner and board member of FelixHealthcare.AI.

“First Rate Ventures is ultimately about investing in innovative firms that share our mission to help promote stewardship and growth,” Smith said in a statement. “We will aim to deploy capital in a redeemed fashion, focusing on not only the entrepreneur but also the community they do business in and investors. With First Rate as our strategic backer, we’re confident that our portfolio companies will deliver more value to their customers more effectively.”

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