How Two Siblings Are Improving Cash Flow For Small Businesses

Cadence's co-founders are the brother-sister team of Charles and Angel Inokon. Cadence will be presenting this week at CED's Venture Connect summit.

Like many children of immigrant families, Charles and Angel Inokon grew up watching their parents struggle to attain ‘The American Dream’. 

They observed the strains, stress, and eventual decline of their parents’ mental and physical health due to financial struggles around launching a business. Now, their co-created fintech app, Cadence Cash, aims to reduce these difficulties for women and people of color trying to grow their own businesses. 

Raleigh-based Cadence is one of startups that will pitch this week (April 29-30) at CED’s Venture Connect summit in RTP.

“We built Cadence because the cost of the American Dream is much higher for some than others,” Charles said. 

Cadence is a Black-owned technology platform that provides paperless self-secured funding to small minority businesses that is faster, cheaper, and easier to obtain than traditional financing. 

For example, for a baker supplying bread to a school system, rather than receiving payment up to 45 days after a sale, the baker can get paid immediately through Cadence.

The idea is a ‘buy now, pay later’ system that handles bills and invoices for small businesses to accelerate cash flow.

“It’s a win-win – the small business owner gets paid upfront and their customer gets to pay later,” Charles said. 

Currently, Angel said the Cadence team is taking its time to conduct market-fit studies and is finalizing their initial release of the technology where users can create an account, input their banking information, send invoices, and receive payments. 

At the beginning of April, Cadence plans to conduct a “white glove treatment” with 20 users to access an MVP of the tech and iterate through user feedback.

In their development of the technology, Charles handles the business and product development side of the project while Angel builds out the software to put his ideas into code.

“I think it and she builds it,” he said.

Before they started Cadence, Charles worked to launch his own entertainment startup and ran into similar issues in raising capital that his parents faced. 

Angel also faced issues relating to racial and gender bias as a part of her software development career. She said listening to senior white men undermined her skills and motivated her to use the experience for the benefit of others. 

Both siblings agree that business development–particularly establishing a strong line of credit–can be especially tough for immigrants because they don’t have generational wealth to rely on. And the amount of venture capital funding that goes to female founders and founders of color is a small fraction of the amount that goes to white male founders.

Although the number of FinTech apps focusing on certain demographics is growing, the Inokons said Cadence is unique in that it marries invoice financing with a ‘buy now, pay later’ system in one location for users. 

“We think another thing that gives us an unfair competitive advantage is that we actually grew up and lived these pain points personally,” Charles said. 

He added that he thinks there is a “place at the table” for all these minority-attentive FinTech projects to coexist. 

“​​Right now we’re seeing a lot of focus on banking for certain demographics, we’re seeing a focus on improving credit for certain demographics,” Charles said. “But we’ve only seen just a couple of people focusing on actually improving cash flow for small minority businesses.” 

Angel noted that there is enough money in that credit niche of the economy to develop the business market for minority-owned small businesses to encourage faster cash flow. 

Cash is the lifeblood of a business, Charles said, like the beat of a heart—a “cadence,” which is where the startup gets its name. 

Charles described how his final decision in letting his father go and observing his heart stop beating reminds him of his motivation for developing this technology—to maintain and strengthen the heartbeat of small businesses like those that his dad owned. 

The siblings consider their app a “disruptive technology” built from personal experiences and struggles. 

Both siblings will attend the Venture Connect Summit March 29-30 and expressed excitement for connecting with the local tech community. 

“And whether or not we get support or VC funding, we’re going to see this through the end and build it because it’s personal for us,” Charles said.