FutureIsOurs

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 : 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!

Matteo 

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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

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FinTech Stage Milan March 2015 30 & 31

FinTechStage in images. Tribute to an amazing event.

As you can imagine, I needed a couple of – resting and sleeping – days after 4 very intense days of FinTechStage.

It’s time to debrief, to celebrate, more important to say thank you and – needless to say – to move forward to the next one. Because the one lesson learned from Milan is that FinTechStage hits the right spot : local FinTech community meeting the international one and building new catalysts of Innovation.
Exactly what happened in Milan.

DAY -1
We started with a week-end of preparation with Ioana and Mariela, drafting the networking wall and the running order…between some pizzas and ice scream 😉

DAY 1
On the morning we had over 80 people and some 50 start-ups attending the crash course to help them understand how to negociate a deal and how to pitch to an investor.
Mircea, Andrew and Tom did an amazing job in preparing the tuition. At the end, we even made Mariano jumping on stage in a very animated Q&A session with the entrepreneurs.

In the afternoon, we gathered Investors, Start-ups eco-systems and Innovators (from banks and insurances).
We ran a networking workshop to make sure the 3 communities had the chance to discuss topics compelling to their own spaces, as well as to get to know each other in a smaller group.

Day 2
The agenda had a clear “fil rouge” :
– understand where FinTech Investors are putting their capital today,
– cover where Innovators from banks thought the investments should go and are not today,
– define how start-ups and financial institutions can work together.
This was the debate of the 3 panels we had.

Italian and international start-ups had also a place on stage. Not looking for capital, but for customers and new business. We explored 2 important themes, inspired by a keynote, featuring 7 start-ups in the related field, payments and banking models disruption and capital markets, in this case, both relevant for the Italian market.
Also start-ups went on stage with their investor. The latter explaining why they put their money on that particular company.

The remaining slots were filled up by what I would call inspirational conversations on financial inclusion and new ways to approach payment disruption. People loved it.

Organisation and infrastructure
Just Amazing.
From the venue, to the great apero party on Monday evening, sponsored by CheBanca! in Talent Garden, to the perfectly arranged plenary room and Tree House of UniCredit. (video linked)

Perfect gorgeous sunny day, feeling like summer.

Media coverage
To report a sentence from Ioana, FinTechStage had a media cover like a Led Zeppelin concert. And it’s true.
Articles and some very nice videos flooded. See some samples here.

Doing good
I announced in the closing remarks our funding of 10 students from the University of Makelele, in Kampala (Uganda). I don’t think I explained myself well enough. Reason being I simply felt too overwhelmed by emotions. Kosta, who knows me well, sent me an SMS saying “I bet I missed some tears” and he was close :D.
The idea is to finance this project instead of give the speakers a token for their time as I already wrote previously – here – in my blog : changing the world one person at the time.

Networking
The networking wall was something that most of the attendees had never seen before.
Mariela deployed close to one kilometre of thread to show the connections between people, topics and attendees.
Pictures flooded on that wall !

Finally, least but not last… A huge thank you to my partners in this fantastic adventure :

Mariela for the design, the wall, her creativity, for being my shadow during the whole event and to be so good to find a walk around to anything.

Ioana, for being so fantastically available all the time, for her precious gathering data skills, for her permanent smile and for being always – always – there.

Lazaro, for being crazy enough to jump with me in this adventure, for his support, for stepping up when needed, and for his constant, invaluable advice (for persuading me to do things I would not have done, that revealed themselves to be a REALLY good ideas afterwards).

 

Ehm, forgot to say, March 31st was my 45th birthday. I never celebrate, but this one will be unforgettable.

The next FTS date ? Coming our soon enough.

Stay Tuned, for real.

 Matteo

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Tower Hall

As promised… HNY to you all and Fintechstage ready to roll !

A little less than a month ago I posted – here – the first idea of FintechStage.com and took the month of December to set it up.
Now I give some more details. In a couple of weeks, we will open up the links to officially subscribe to the event (in any case, you would have better things to do then thinking about it on a Jan 1st, right ..?)

The news :

1- We have secured the venue. It is nothing else than the most photographed building of Milan, the Unicredit Tower and its beautiful Tree House.
One of the most beautiful co-working open spaces I have seen… EVER !

2- We have finalised the program and the streamlined version is :

  • March 30th Morning : InvestmentLab, moderated by a lawyer, a live simulation of a deal between a start-up and an investor, plus some Business model Canvas , plus some pitch advice. This is OPEN TO ALL STARTUPS, not only Fintech and we have 150 seats available
  • March 30th Afternoon : Invitation-only meetings
  • March 31st All day : conference, aperitivo and party

3- There are a number of speakers already confirmed :

This list does not include yet the speakers from the Italian community (apart Riccardo from Unicredit), for which I will come back to you very soon.

4- The initial version of the Program of the plenary day :

Three panels :

**Incubators, Accelerators, Start-up programs 
– What’s in it for the banks ?
– How to create the right eco-system for it ?
– What are the measures ?
– Simply, how do you do it ?

**Innovation Panel
– Selling innovation internally
– Foster collaboration and picking champion
– Ok, now we have an Head of Innovation, so what ?

**VC Panel
– Where does the money go ?
– US vs London vs Rest of the world… Different perspectives
– How do we give the right values to a company ?
– How do we relate with banks in helping the companies grow ?

**10 Power Talks
Here are some of the topics :
– Alternative Lending
– New Banking Models
– Ubiquitous payments
– Next Gen Card Services
– Bank APIs and Open source (Innovation in insurance, Money management)

**Start-up Pitches : 10-12 start-ups with revenue, customers and a proven model will pitch to the community.
Once again, format of the pitches will be unusual : when possible, the Investor and the Start-up founder or CEO will be both on stage, explaining what the start-up value proposition is and why the company has been funded.

**Networking time, also during the Aperitivo, where meetings will be pre-arranged and qualified

 

What is the objective of FintechStage ?
Bring the best possible mix of players of the fintech industry from the Investors, Start-ups and Innovators (bankers) community, in a number of European cities (to start with) to help the innovation dialogue in a different way. 

How different ?
We like to think we know the feeling of going to conferences and being left with no personalized content, with the opportunity to enlarge your network left to your own initiative, with no or very little interaction. And we want to change this.

How about the “social” side of the conference ?
There will be an invitation-only dinner in the evening of the 30th, sponsored by CheBanca! and an aperitivo in the amazing Unicredit Tree House on the 31st.
Copernico, the big innovation co-working space just beside the main Milan train station, will host a post-event party where we hope we can consolidate all the good networking shared in the two days.

Next steps :

  • subscribe to the Start-up Investment LAB session of Monday morning, as of jan 15th we will send the link
  • as of January 15th, we will open the Eventbrite page to the event ticketing,
  • follow us on @fintechstage where we will post speakers announcements and other news,
  • the detailed program will be out soon and you will be the first to know…

Stay tuned and – again – lots of joy for next year !

Matteo

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