Longtime local search and ad network exec Darby Sieben took something of a leap of faith in the new commerce environment last June when he joined RBC Ventures, the venture arm of the Royal Bank of Canada, one of the world’s largest banks.
Indeed, RBC Ventures (RBCV) is driving the hypothesis that businesses can be among the most effective drivers of services (see our post on RBCV from last June).
RBCV currently has 13 products that are live in its portfolio and has investments in 8. These fit into one of five categories: B2C (Lifestyle), B2B for SMBs; Mobility; Health and Wellness; and Home.
Among the products are:
· Ownr, a full suite of services for SMBs to launch their business.
· Arrive, a social and professional community for newcomers.
· Butter, a subscription management product.
· GetDigs, a platform that lets renters pay rent with their favourite reward card.
· Garbage Day, a residential reminder program for things like garbage and recycling pickup.
Ventures also has RBC Reach, an accelerator program for startups. This is akin to similar bank and credit card projects by MasterCard and Capitol One’s Spark Business.
Sieben, in a discussion with us last week, says that such efforts can go a long way to introducing RBC to a new set of consumers and to the business community.
In banking, “it is very hard to distinguish your product by (such things as) loan rates,” he tells us. Other banks will always be doing the same thing. “So with Ventures, we ask: how do we create new relationships with consumers and business that start well before you need financial products?”
“The key is to drive a higher consideration set,” suggests Sieben. “We are helping solve other problems in your database. That might give you a higher propensity to choose RBC over our competitors.”