It has been a while guys.
It has been a while guys.
There is a reason why I have been so quiet lately. Truth is that since my last post (here), I had a very hard time in keeping track of everything that happened.
I am actually grounded by an historical cold, the first of this year and between one drug and another manage to at least make a little summary.
Finally, I can announce that the deal I was talking about is now completed and announced.
It is not only very exciting but an impressive learning curve for all of us as a team, rapidly gearing up for more activity in this space in 2017.
On another note, we successfully managed out first FinTechStage conference in Chicago, hosted by BAI (Banking Administration Institute) in a very successful rebranding of their annual gathering.
BAI Beacon 2016 was a first of its kind, and I must say a format I have never seem before, with 8 simultaneous stages (of which FinTechStage was the largest one) and with a creative controlled chaos that adjusted itself joining the course of the conference for the 1300+ attendees.
Back from Chicago, the roadshow to present FinTech Revolution, my first book, (for more details : http://innovationschool.talentgarden.org/tag-books/) took place in Milano and Rome and immediately after went to Johannesburg for 48 very intense hours speaking at the Indaba Conference, that hosted the African FinTech awards.
How can you possibly resume 6 planes, 3 trains, 40 hours of travels in 2 lines only, but that’s how it was.
Another great news of this month is the opening of the FinTechStage Innovation Hub in Sestri Levante, where we opened both a physical office but most importantly launched a series of initiatives to build, develop and foster the Italian Fintech eco-system.
We have now dedicated ressources helping financial institutions, technology partners, startups and venture capitalists to create a virtuous circle of though leadership, education and training, entrepreneurship and coaching focused on the Italian market.
I think there is no better explanation of what the mission of FinTechStage is, starting with events to put the community together and then investing ressources to become the catalyst of that community.
I am officially announcing that next year (in the summer, so that the Sestri Levante location asset will be very difficult to beat) we will be holding the first Italian FinTech Leaders summit, gathering compatriotes from all over the world to create a community that will help the Italian eco-system to grow.
I realise that each one of these news could a post on its own, but bear with me I will eventually do that. Remember, this is also a diary for my kids one day to figure out why dad was so often on the road.
PS : picture is celebrating my great friend Roberto, who we invited in Sestri Levante as well and we took the opportunity to have a double-book shot 🙂
There is a reason why I have been silent for the past eight weeks. Not that I am presumptuous enough to think anyone noticed that, but sometimes I remember this is my way not to loose touch with the rest of the world about what’s happening to me, not to mention the fact that my kids one day could potentially wonder what dad was doing beside coming and going with his trolley. (as a side point, I think the noise of the luggage wheels entering the house and getting out will probably be the most remembered sound related to Dad they will ever have).
To start with, we did run two great FinTechStage events in May, Milan and Amsterdam (which explain why April was quietly upgrading to an hectic time, because – of course – shit happens and you need to deal wit it). We can safely say both events were successful, from what we could gather from the partners, the sponsors, the audience and the speakers. On thing we have to do better is find a smart way not to loose all the good content FTS is bringing to the different eco-systems.
I will shamelessly point you guys to an amazing post my friend Daniel Gusev (who spoke in Amsterdam) wrote about the event, and I can only be grateful for being so exhaustive and thoughtful in creating this.
We do have ideas on how to capture the fil rouge of all the events we do, and build services around it, and you will hear about it very soon.
I also spent a week in San Francisco (beginning of May) with everyone at Omidyar, in my first ON Summit.
Amazing experience: I went there thinking I would be amongst the very few knowing only a handful of people, and realised there the organisation has grown so much in the last twelve months that at least three dozens of people were there for the first time as well! I am very humbled to be part of such a group, not only because of the mission we share, but most importantly because it s constant reminder – for me – of a different way of building businesses, empowering people, both with for profit and not for profit initiatives, and it was overwhelming as well to realise the spectrum of activities ON is involved with, some of which really triggered a whole new world.
Let me give you an example: I discovered what the Property Rights division does. To be fair, as well WHAT Property Rights even means. Had no idea that over a billion people are concerned by the fact that there is no proper and factual record of their properties (land, houses, etc) with all the terrible consequences that such a matter has on their lives. ON is amongst the few organisations in the planet investing resources and research power to tackle this global issue, where of course technology has a great role to play (think of drones to assess land perimeters, etc).
Immediately after that, I spoke both at the CGAP annual meeting and et ICT Spring Luxembourg, two events fortunately for me overlapping each other but making these three days particularly intense, especially because in the case of the CGAP event (CGAP is an Independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor) I discovered a whole new network of organisations driven by the same mission (make the world a better place, for lack of a better definition).
It does not happen very often I go to a conference where I don’t know a single speaker, and almost never where I don’t meet someone I have seen before in other place. Well, this time – no doubt – was an exception on all of it.
Another important part of last weeks activity flipped around the work ON is doing in defining an investment thesis on Digital Identity and what it s called the Me2B space. A simple way to explain the latter is how can we put the user (the customer, everyone of us, in other words) in control of his own data and find new economics around the sharing of these data with potential suppliers of services that de facto – today – are getting it for free. I am writing this post from London, where we are visiting a number of players in this space and craft the right strategy around it.
Lastly, I am writing a book,(yes, a book) in Italian, about FinTech, that will be part of a collection produced by the Bocconi University (I think, this is what I have been told). I am just mentioning it as this is what definitely filled up all the little spare time I usually take to write my posts. Book is almost over, only two chapters remaining, will hopefully tell you more before the really summer starts. Summer starts the day I go to Sestri Levante, of course, before then it s just normal busy time in a short sleeves black t-shirt instead of long ones!
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 : TALNT.pro
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!