99% of the non-coached pitches suck, and it’s a really bad start

Some of us have been listening to more pitches than others and I am not talking about the Finovate shows, more like these 1:1 solicited or unsolicited gatherings where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to have quality time with a small crowd of investors or bankers.
I get it.
Personal story : we have been teaching the Business Model Canvas in many of our FinTechStage workshops, until we realised we never ran one on FinTechStage itself (and we finally set up time for it now).
In other words, especially when you are passionate by what you do and you really believe in your idea, you don’t think you even need to explain it.
Please don’t make this mistake.
Storytelling, visual mastering, content structure and energy.
You can google anywhere what a startup pitch should look like and which elements it should contain. And I believe I already wrote a post about it.
 So why on earth you are not preparing ?
No matter how passionate you are about what you do, think of this :
  • assertiveness and clarity, even if it doesn’t come natural to you, can be learned
  • it s very easy to get help in what your visuals looks like
  • there are basic elements you can’t miss, and litterature is full of “how-to” examples
  • the chances that your counterpart won’t understand your tech jargon are very high (but you must be prepared in case they do) therefore you have to trigger something with your story first
  • the “storytelling” part is what investors and clients presentations have in common: everything else is numbers and facts
It takes a while.
But if I have to resume in a single advice, never get caught “improvising”. And by improvising I don’t mean “not knowing the answer” – which can happens – but rather “breath” your story. Or get a coach for it.
Stay tuned

Seven facts about FinTechStage Luxembourg and announcing Milan and Amsterdam!

I have been silent for a while, and for good reasons.

FinTechStage Luxembourg took most of my energy and I am really proud with the result, achieved as a team.

Few stories on this one:

  • we had a VIP dinner the evening before the event, with roughly 100 CEOs and two ministers, and guess who sat beside the Minister of Finance in a t-shirt? Lucky me i got away with our common Italian origins and the fact that we had great discussions on the eco-system building. He is the one who abolished the banking secrecy in Luxembourg, and i believe he will remember me not only because only 3 letters differentiate my name with our own Italian prime minister.
  • at this dinner, we were asked to explain to 100 CEOs why they should care about Data, Digital Banking and Blockchain in three 10 minutes-long pitches. Dave Birch gave one of the the most hilarious and original talks I ever listened to.
  • we had a stellar line up of speakers, and i have never seen Matthias Kroener, Fidor CEO and co-founder so pissed. Pissed, really, bashing on poor business models and inflated valuations and fake innovation in banking.
  • it was the first time I actually followed a Chris Skinner presentation from the beginning to the end. It is actually quite cool.
  • it was the biggest FinTechStage ever, with 500+ attendees, and despite all malignities on these new FinTech hub fighting to get the attention, i have to say – objectively – the Luxembourg is really cracking it
  • the first day, we listened to Lux startup pitches with a number of coaches “imported” by FinTechStage in front of 100+ local bankers
  • for the second time we managed to help our favourite community of Uganda students with a 2016 batch of scholarships and we are really proud to have made this happened

we are now preparing TWO more FinTechStage, both in May:

Milan, May 5th and 6th (Conference + demo-day of the CheBanca! Italian FinTech startup contest)

Amsterdam, May 25th (Conference in the middle of the Startup Week, a week-long program with events and happening all over Holland)

Stay tuned, agenda and registrations for these events opening soon!




Life after SBT… 2016 here I come !

By now is public knowledge I am no longer with the SBT Venture Capital fund, as Anna rightly pointed out. It looks like I am not the only one moving to new endeavours.

I suppose it’s understandable, now that FinTech has become so hype and witnessing its rise from the very beginning, I am ok with experimenting more. Actually I am not done yet in figuring all of it.

I would like to start by being grateful and mindful of the great change that SBT brought to my professional life, understanding what I love and skilful for and what makes my brain sleep and my motivation down.

2015 was also the first year of FinTechStage, built from scratch in January, and with 3 events in Milan, Barcelona and Buenos Aires, I discovered a way to bring the FinTech community together in a way that gives me energy and the willingness to do more. The program for 2016 starts with Luxembourg, then Italy again, Spain again, and will add few cities which will be announced soon. 

Related to FinTech there is something else in the making :

I realized that there is a growing need for short term, very focused and talented FinTech expertise that traditional players are struggling to find. Few experiments led me to think that an almost 10 years old network in this field is an invaluable asset to help filling the gap. I am sharing this in total opened knowing the only thing done is the intention and a kick ass domain name, but we will launch it in one of our next FTS events.

Another great chapter started at the end of last year is my advisory role for The Omidyar Network, which reveals to be a fascinating experience.

The quest for sector impact investments, the approach to financial inclusion and financial wellness both in emerging and developed markets and a structure that is build to bring so much more than money to the invested companies – I only collaborate with the for profit financial inclusion business of ON, but there is also a very articulate work done by the foundation arm – is not only a huge learning experience in this vertical FinTech space, but also a discovery journey on how financial inclusion is not only about rural areas of third world countries but extremely relevant to the rest of the world as well.

It looks like the pace of the talks, the coaching and more and more short term consulting mission I am called to deliver is not slowing down, amid I am mindful of the fact that some rationalisation of it should take place. I am not very good to say “no” or maybe I underestimate what it actually means to say too many “yes” and I would say this is a clear learning pattern for me to chase, this year.

I am WOL – Writing Out Loud – right now, but maybe I should privilege and focus on missions and engagements targeted to build communities, rather than commercial workshops serving a specific brand ?

There is also a easily spotted gap in the FinTech VC space in Europe. Many CVC from large banks have either morphed in a more strategic and less capital risk philosophy, whilst mid-sized banks are either passive or have little means to engage with the FinTech startups. 

In every transition period, the best way is to start listening, carefully, starting by listening to yourself and pay attention to those little sign that might help you choosing your next mission.

This is what I am doing right now : start engaging with what seems to be either most promising or too interesting to let go. 

My corporate life seems decades ago and it’s only a little more that 2 years since I have decided to completely change my professional settings. I take this as something amazingly positive. 

So more than ever, stay tuned!


FinTechStage Buenos Aires – how amazing is this ? #soproud

Mauricio Macri, major of Buenos Aires, made it to President.

Most of us, me for sure, don’t know what it means to live in a country where political and economical crisis are dominating the scene so heavily, that it affects your perception of hope and – especially with an expatriate lens – makes you look back at your home with a bitter sense of impotence.

We are running FinTechStage in Buenos Aires in exactly 3 weeks and it’s a good example of FinTech is driving part of the change there.

Our friends from NXTP Labs – very successful accelerator mainly operating in Latam, but also in Israel and Ireland – are launching their first FinTech batch and partnered with FinTechStage to deliver an international event.

The agenda is here :

Obviously Financial Inclusion is one of the topics of the conference and Omidyar Network is sponsoring the event as well.

I am really happy to gather together with my Argentinian friends Mariano Belinky and Gustavo Vinacua. I am also very thankful to Santander Innoventures and BBVA to support the event. There are plenty of other local sponsors. I already thank them all and can’t wait to meet them.

We have now 300+ delegates already registered.
If someone would have told me in its first year of existence that FinTechStage would have run 3 events in 2 continents, I would not have believed it. It’s an interesting model, whereby FTS puts its brand and build up the agenda bringing international speakers, and the local partner uses the conference to either launch a FinTech initiative or simply to start creating a community around financial services innovation.

It is the last conference of the year – very intense one – and I can’t wait to spend time with the kids (after of course the wrap up blog of the conference).

Stay tuned


PS : the picture features Avenida 9 de Julio, the largest avenue in the world.