- Maza is a new startup that helps immigrants to the US get financial identities.
- The company wants to make it easier for immigrants to get paid, pay taxes, and build credit.
- Now, Maza has just raised $8 million in seed funding from investors like Andreessen Horowitz.
For Maza cofounders Luciano Arango, Robbie Figueroa, and Siggy Bilstein, building a banking startup for immigrants to the United States was more than a business opportunity — it was personal.
Growing up as the children of immigrants, they all saw the difficulties their parents faced when trying to make a living in the US. They watched their parents struggle with opening bank accounts and filing taxes without social security numbers, which made their position in the country feel even more unstable.
Arango, Maza’s CEO, told Insider that his parents were undocumented when they first came to the US, and his father was deported when he was eight-years-old, leaving his mother with the burden of managing his family’s finances. “My whole dream in life was to come back and fix that,” he said.
In 2021, the time was right for Arango to launch a startup that could help immigrants secure financial identities in the US by tying the process to opening a bank account. He teamed up with his longtime business partner Robbie Figueroa, with whom he was running the startup incubator House AI, to focus on this project full time. He also brought in Bilstein, his old engineering manager from his days working at LinkedIn, as a cofounder and CTO.
A year and a half later, and Maza has raised $8 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. SV Angel, Box Group, Restive Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and several angel investors including Anré Williams, CEO of American Express National Bank, and William Hockey, cofounder of Plaid, also participated in the round.
While many fintech companies pitch themselves as banking solutions to underbanked populations, Maza sets itself apart with its focus on identity verification for immigrants who otherwise would not have access to basic financial services. On Maza, customers open a bank account by verifying their identity online through an international passport check. Then, once the account is approved and open, a customer will automatically get a individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, that can be a substitute for a social security number for many other services.
“This process would usually take upwards of four months to do,” said Figueroa. “Right now, you’d have to actually mail your passport to the government to do this. Instead, we automate being able to prove your identity though international database checks with your passport.”
Maza’s main revenue driver is its ongoing subscription pricing for premium banking, which costs around $150 a year. Customers will have access to Maza’s banking services, which include card services, check deposit, and tax services. The company also has partnerships with US credit card companies and loan servicers, like Capital One and Wells Fargo, that its customers can sign up for after opening a Maza account.
Andreessen Horowitz partner Seema Amble agreed to lead the startup’s seed round after meeting with the team. She was impressed with their novel, identity-based strategy for finding and retaining customers.
“Attaining success in the US takes more than mere residency,” said Amble. “The key is to actively participate in the free market. Maza has identified a massive need here in the US and we’re thrilled to help them address it in a meaningful way.”
Currently, the team has 13 full-time US employees and 15 in Colombia, along with over 50,000 users. Down the road, however, the cofounders envision Maza as an “identity” company rather than a banking company, akin to CLEAR in airports, said Arango. “We can help anyone across the world access the US financial system.”
Check out the 14-slide pitch deck that Maza used to raise $8 million in seed funding: (Note: certain proprietary information has been redacted.)
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