MIT Startup peerTransfer Wins Global Entrepreneurship Competition in Barcelona
[Updated 2:30 pm 6/21/10 (see bottom).] Score one for Boston innovation—and MIT startups in particular. Cambridge, MA-based peerTransfer, an online money transfer and global payments company spun out of MIT, has won the 20,000-Euro prize for the most promising early-stage startup in the HIT Global Entrepreneurship Competition. The award was given late last week as part of the HIT Barcelona World Innovation Summit.
The competition involved 23 companies from around the globe, and is one of the most prestigious programs of its kind. The 37 judges included top investors from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mayfield Fund, CMEA Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Flagship Ventures, corporate VC groups, and European venture groups. The second and third prizes went to CaptchaAd, a German video advertising startup, and Gold-i, a U.K.-based maker of software for the trading marketplace.
peerTransfer has created a new kind of global money transfer network that tries to help individuals and small businesses save money compared to traditional banking. The idea is to match up the transactions going between two countries—money flowing from the U.S. to the U.K. and vice versa, for example—so as to figure out the net flow between customers, and to keep the money effectively moving only within each country. That way customers save money on international transfer fees and bad exchange rates. The company was incorporated in July 2009.
“We are really excited about taking this company to the next level, and this award is a big step in the right direction,” said Iker Marcaide, peerTransfer’s founder and CEO, in a statement. Marcaide, a native of Spain, is a former management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in Europe. He got his MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and is an engineer by schooling.
Reached by phone, Marcaide said one crucial thing he soaked up at MIT was “the atmosphere that enables you to take risks—the idea that ‘I can do this, and launch something.’ That’s very powerful.” He added that the startup teams partied on the beach in Barcelona on Thursday night into the early hours of Friday—and then all went back to work in the morning. “Entrepreneurs as usual,” he said.