Bluevine CEO Lifshitz, on company’s 10th anniversary, explains why moving HQ to Jersey City has been perfect fit

Fintech founder said education workforce, connection to financial industry have helped company become national leader in small business banking

It has been nine months since Bluevine, which dubs itself as one of the leading providers of small business banking solutions, moved its international headquarters to Jersey City.

Founder and CEO Eyal Lifshitz couldn’t be happier. After all, he calls Jersey City one of the small business capitals of the world.

“There is a vibrant business community within and surrounding Jersey City,” he said. “As a digital banking platform that is purpose-built for small businesses, working alongside our most critical stakeholders — our customers and prospects — is invaluable.”

Then, there’s that educated workforce every company seems to note when it comes to New Jersey. Having that, while being part of the area that serves as the financial capital of the world, is a huge plus, too, Lifshitz said.

“Operating our headquarters out of Jersey City not only offers closer proximity and more direct access to financial markets, but also allows us to tap a talent pool that is steeped in financial services and banking experience,” he said.

“This deep industry expertise is a huge advantage for roles across our business, from marketing and sales to operations and R&D to risk and compliance to HR and customer success and beyond. The city itself also has a lot to offer, and in many ways matches the diversity represented within our office, which has already contributed significantly to our company culture as we’ve continued to grow.”

Grow is what Bluevine continues to do. As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, Lifshitz is proud of how his company provides checking, lending and payments services designed specifically for the needs of U.S.-based small businesses from coast to coast and across dozens of market sectors.

Over the past decade since its inception, Bluevine has built a digital banking platform that has served over 500,000 business owners, surpassed $850 million in deposits and delivered more than $14 billion in loans to help facilitate growth for its customers.

Lifshitz feels Bluevine’s success has demonstrated that, not only can its business mission be rewarding in helping American businesses achieve growth, but its business model can create measurable value for its company, investors and employees — punctuated by the generation of hundreds of millions in revenue and maintaining a trajectory of approximately 80% year-over-year revenue growth, he said.

Being in Jersey City has only helped the company, he said. It’s a location where you can be a national leader — one with a global footprint.

“While Bluevine is focused on supporting U.S.-based businesses exclusively, we still feel there is an advantage to applying a world view to our operations,” he said. “With additional offices in Redwood City, Salt Lake City, Austin, Tel Aviv and Bengaluru, India, we are able to complement our Jersey City team with even more world-class talent that brings a great combination of varied work experiences and business perspectives that enrich our offerings across the board.”

Lifshitz recently talked the past, present and future with ROI-NJ. Here’s a look at the conversation, edited for space and clarity.

Bluevine on the Nasdaq’s giant video board.

ROI-NJ: Talk more about the quality of the workforce in New Jersey — has it delivered what you expected?

Eyal Lifshitz: There are lots of advantages to operating in New Jersey. The enormity and quality of the workforce is high on the list — and was certainly a driving factor for basing our headquarters here. The spectrum of business sizes and industries represented in this region are hard to match, so that had an effect on shaping what has become a very unique and attractive workforce for just about any company, Bluevine included.

Naturally, we count many New Jersey residents among our team working out of our Jersey City office, but also still attract employees from across the five boroughs, up into Westchester and Connecticut, and even from parts of Eastern Pennsylvania. With several public transportation options from the Exchange Place location within the city, in addition to ample parking for commuters, Jersey City offers superb access for our commuters.

Additionally, Bluevine entered into a partnership with Rutgers University, which includes internship opportunities for students across departments, helping to accelerate career growth and provide opportunities to keep future talent in New Jersey.

ROI: Have to ask the question of the day: in-office, hybrid, fully remote?

EL: Most of our team is on a hybrid schedule with a presence in the office at least two days per week. Notably, Bluevine counts hybrid work as a critical tool for global collaboration, which benefits from in-person team time while still maintaining versatility and flexibility in personal work schedules.

ROI: The fintech industry has changed dramatically since you started 10 years ago: Where do you see the fintech industry going in the next 10 years?

EL: Fintech forced innovation on an industry that was simply not incentivized to innovate. Emerging technology companies that came into the financial services space not only changed the dynamics of how products and services could be designed and delivered, but significantly accelerated the pace of change.

The promise of fintech is speed, efficiency, access and democratization of financial services — and that will continue to hold true in the decade ahead. The technology will evolve, of course, but the core value proposition will remain the same.

ROI: Talk a bit about that transformation.

EL: Twenty years ago, there were 8,000 commercial banks in the U.S. Today, there are roughly 4,000. Financial markets, technology, consolidation and regulation all had a role in that shift. The impact of the pandemic alone forced several years of innovation into a condensed time frame of several months, according to many pundits.

Today, the government does not have a big appetite to issue new bank charters — so, it is unlikely we will witness a sea change in the number of banks operating in the U.S. However, continued transformation is inevitable.

ROI: Let’s talk transformation. How do you see small business banking, your specialty, changing?

EL: We feel there is a sizable addressable market of small businesses whose needs are simply not being met by big banks. In fact, this market segment — estimated at over 33 million in the U.S. by the Small Business Association — has long been underserved by the prevailing banking establishment. Meanwhile, these business owners have shown a steady, if not growing appetite, for products and services designed specifically for them.

To date, we have served over 500,000 small business customers, delivered over $14 billion in loans and have been trusted with over $900 million in deposits today. We feel there is enduring demand for our digital banking platform, and we are steadily expanding our capabilities to suit the needs of these businesses, which are essential to the health of the U.S. economy.

ROI: Last question: Many fintechs are in the startup stage; what advantages does Bluevine have with its 10 years of experience?

EL: The gap that exists today in small business banking is not surface-level — it runs deep. It cannot be solved by simply adapting existing solutions or remarketing them to small businesses. It requires real investment, combined with a genuine understanding of what these business owners actually need, and, just as importantly, how they prefer to work. For traditional banks, it requires an actual transformation of their approach, how they manage risk, design products, provide customer support and how they operate, overall.

You are unlikely to see that level of transformation from them. That’s where Bluevine comes in. We have made and continue to make significant investments in technology infrastructure, risk management, data analytics and customer success in addition to product experience to bring one-stop banking to market for this segment. These businesses have a particular set of needs and inherent challenges that ‘off the shelf’ banking simply cannot satisfy. So, for incumbent banks, truly addressing these needs will only become harder.

Bluevine has been at it for 10 years, so, we feel this gives our company a substantial lead and a formidable moat, when compared to other banking platforms and fintech startups. We are happy about our market positioning and confident in our future trajectory.