The partnerships your startup makes early on can make or break you. That includes financial partners beyond investors. When you choose a bank, you lock yourself into a specific set of options: the specific services and products that each bank provides.
Yes, you can always switch banks down the road if the need arises. But most companies find that changing financial institutions is more work than it’s worth — and that means sticking with a banking partner even when they’re not ticking all of the boxes.
All told, it’s worth researching banking options in the very early stages of your company. Choosing one with offerings that can scale with your startup will help to support your growth.
And, fortunately, plenty of banking partners tailor their services to tech companies. We’ve gathered up a few options that you may want to consider.
Silicon Valley Bank
No surprise here: a bank with Silicon Valley in its name does a pretty good job of supporting tech startups. And if you’re looking for a partner with a solid track record, they deliver. 63% of U.S. venture capital-backed companies that went public in the first half of 2021 banked with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).
They also have a service tailored specifically for startups called SVB Edge. With this option, you get:
- A free checking account, which means no fees for monthly maintenance, transactions, mobile deposits, bill payments up to $100,000 a day, and even wire transfers
- The SVB Innovators Card, which gives you two rewards points for every dollar you spend without an annual fee or foreign transaction fees
- 1% interest rate earnings on a Startup Money Market Account
Be advised, though, that the free checking account converts to one with a $50/month account maintenance fee after three years.
Ultimately, SVB is a frontrunner in banking for tech startups. But they’re not the only player in the game, and it’s worth your time to compare their rates and services against other options.
First Republic Bank
- Inspiration: In your earliest days, solid financial support makes a tremendous difference. First Republic aims to deliver just that. Their options include a Business Analyzed Checking account that gives you a $250 earnings credit in each of the first 36 months, which can help to offset any fees. Right now, they’re also offering free 409A valuations if you open your Business Analyzed Checking account with at least $5,000 and maintain an average monthly balance of $250,000.
- Traction: In this phase, you still have access to the services we outlined above, but you may have more need for some of First Republic’s other innovator-tailored offerings. You might tap into their Foreign Exchange team, which can help you determine the best way to pay international vendors, or their cash flow-maximizing treasury management.
- Expansion: As you grow, so do your banking needs. To help, First Republic offers services like risk control (including online security bolstering) and fixed income solutions via their trading desk.
Throughout banking with First Republic, you can expect access to industry insights. They regularly host tech and VC-focused events for their clients.
Mercury delivers, in their own words, banking built for startups. They offer two basic account types: Standard and Tea Room. Standard requires a very achievable $0 minimum account balance, and comes with no fees, plus free wire transfers. Tea Room offers all of the same benefits plus exclusive events and partner rewards, but requires a minimum deposit of $250,000.
If you choose the Tea Room path, you also get access to the currently beta-testing Mercury Treasury, which puts any extra cash you have into U.S. government securities and money market funds to help you see earnings. Oh, and you actually get free tea shipped to you!
Mercury Bank offers the other things you’d expect from a bank, like cards, checks, and ACH transfers. And since this banking platform was designed for startups, Mercury offers tools many founders like, including API access for transactions and payments.
Another founder-focused bank, Grasshopper is fairly new to the scene. Their app is currently in beta, so you can sign up now with no minimum deposit and no fees (although they may introduce fees down the road). Their interface includes forecasting tools and the ability to manage user roles.
With Grasshopper, you can send and receive wires and ACH payments and send bulk payments. They also offer money market accounts, standby letters of credit, venture debt facilities, and credit cards, although they partner with an external provider for the last.
Grasshopper is probably the least established banking partner on this list, but their early offerings make them worth the mention. And if you want to partner with a bank that is expected to grow alongside your startup, they may be a fit.
Another relatively new player, Novo also offers free business checking. Additionally, they provide free ACH and wire transfers, don’t require a minimum balance, and will refund any ATM fees. They integrate with a broad range of fintech, like QuickBooks and Stripe, and claim that it will take you fewer than 10 minutes to apply for an account with them.
Novo doesn’t offer the bells and whistles of some of the other banking partners we’ve highlighted, but if you’re looking for a streamlined solution to get your business account up and running quickly, they deliver.
At the end of the day, the right bank for your startup hinges on things that are unique to you, like your desire to have access to VC-focused events, your tolerance for fees, and your need to integrate your banking with future funding. Finding the ideal partner will require some forward-thinking, but it can make a tremendous difference in the scalability of your financial processes.
We can help. Here at ShayCPA, our team of tech startup-focused finance professionals has extensive experience supporting and guiding founders as they dial in their financial processes. To talk with us about which banking partners will be solid options for your company, don’t hesitate to get in touch.