5 lessons from organising two FinTech events and create a new brand in 6 months starting from scratch

I have started this post a while ago and I am completing it now… in the first serious flight post-beach, to San Francisco.
This is far from being a promotion of FinTechStage.
It is an objective look back, hoping you guys will react and help the team improve on this new adventure, that could have different futures and certainly is a precious ground of experience.

1) Business Model
Everyone is trying to find out the successful economics of an event business and many have tried, including us.
Truth is if you want to privilege the quality of the crowd you are inviting and keep the dimension of the event small enough for the network to be effective, you have to rely too much on sponsoring, which is leads to a process fatigue after a while.

2) Networking
Ultimately, the fundamental reason for most of the people to participate to an event. Point is : there is a FinTech (bigger and bigger) Friends & Family crowd that most of the good events are reassembling. The challenge is to avoid 90% of the attendees coming to meet the same 10% of the gurus. There is nothing wrong with it, but what’s it for the gurus ?

3) Content
You cannot avoid a third of the content to be boring for a combination of the following factors :
– some content has to be sponsors driven (if you rely too much on them),
– you have to experiment with new speakers and sometimes you don’t have enough quality time to figure out what the delivery will look like,
– explore content out of the “FinTech comfort zone”: insurance, FinTech wearables, corporate treasury, etc.

4) Speakers
If you pay your speakers, you can be certain that unless your event has thousands of tickets sold (like Sibos) you will likely loose money.
You also want to avoid the “usual speaking to the usual” vicious circle and – most importantly – a speaker has to come for more than his/her speech, make everyone has a different objective.
What I would like to plan is for someone to come over and almost have a personalised agenda that we help building. That alone can comfortably justify the time spent on a conference.

5) Give versus Get
Conferences run by marketing agencies or solely event company are likely to die or get acquired by someone with more money that will fall in the same fatigue sooner or later. I asked myself repeatedly if I should do JUST FinTechStage. The biggest challenge would be to juggle between the pressure of having this as the sole revenue source versus something complementary to the other business I run (the investor, the start-up coach, the evangelist). Some of it can blend, of course, but if you can experiment, expand the topics and invited the right audience, be flexible on who you partner with, that allows you to give (to the community) before you get (mostly money).
Instead of money, what you get by focusing on giving, is the trust and the credibility in the (FinTech, in this case) space.

Now, watch the space as we will announce soon more events and new partnerships.

Stay tuned

Matteo

2 thoughts to “5 lessons from organising two FinTech events and create a new brand in 6 months starting from scratch”

  1. Completely agree with what you’ve written. To get more insight on the viability and economics of conferences, check in with Michael Terpin (Inside Bitcoin) or the guys who run TechDay. Those who put on conferences say that it is an endless grind.

    Qualifier: I have not attended any Fintech Stage events. But in the main, fintech conferences have gotten way too expensive for the value derived. The same speakers, all in torn jeans and T-shirts, giving the same presentation. Pretty slides and a lot of blah blah blah. The panels are beyond lame and attendees come away with zero actionable information. And it’s all B2C. Hardly any valuable B2B. I can’t take one more PFM presentation.

    The top insiders (the “rock stars”) stand around talking to each other, batting away the folks who came to hear / meet them.

    The people who really need to be there, the US bankers, don’t know or care what’s going on with innovation in financial services. They’re old, fat and clueless. Waiting to acquire anyone who gets traction.

    1. There is a lot of truth in what you said F, you know what? let me invite you to the next one and you will see by yourself.
      BTW, we have chosen to KNOW most of the people to attend FTS and minimise the random ‘ticket buyers’ in order to avoid part of the risks you mentioned.
      The flip of the coin of course is also the risk of getting only ‘family members’ … as i wrote.
      best

      Matteo

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