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!



Sibos through hugs, connections, re-connections and smiles…

I am in Frankfurt, happy to have survived to the economy flight back from Boston (when I started this post).
I want to make a note of joy for reconnecting to the Innotribe gang, new and old. Like a diary made with my encounters of this week.
This explains why I started this post in the Lounge in Frankfurt and I am finishing it now, 3 days later, in a plane to Madrid to attend the SouthSummit startup challenge as a judge.

Innotribe @Sibos simply feels like family.

Let’s start with what used to be the Innotribe Enablers group that I have built three years back now…
A bunch of brains, forget politics, meeting quarterly to help Innotribe (and SWIFT) think and move forward.

They were almost all there so I want to be thankful to each and everyone I reconnected with (in order of appearance) :

Dan “the misfit” Marovitz, strong and vocal personality, very fast brain, a true curious, a friend outside the business (because we took the time to meet outside the business as well).
Udayan Goyal, very impressed by your new healthy, super fit lifestyle, just for that you deserve all my admiration. Oh, we happen to be co-investors in a couple of deals, by the way and – actually – real buddies.
Gautam Jain, seasoned banker, but with that sparkle making him constantly look for inspiration outside the box. From Singapore not easy to see each other often, but time does not count in the genuine way we reconnect every time.

Neal “the wise” Livingston : wonderful to reconnect. Now in a new, exciting business mission with CBA, extremely sharp and knowledgeable.
If I had to choose someone as a mentor in the banking space that would be him. He has all the calm that I miss.

There are then the “pillars” of Innotribe network, not because the others aren’t, but because historically they have been there almost from day one.

Peter Hinssen, one of the smartest AND humblest (VERY few people in that category) person I know. Hard to catch, he did a “quick” Boston-Paris-Boston for a meeting in 24 hours. Do you know the difference between him and many others ?
If you take a 24h round trip during a conference you want to make sure EVERYONE knows about it because he makes you so cool, especially if you are the Master of Ceremony. I would SO bark around about it. He wouldn’t. (Others did for him anyway ;-))

Chris Skinner, Mike Sigal, Tony Fish, Jaspar Roos, Jennifer Sertl, Dave Birch, Brett King could be keynote speakers, each one of them, in any Fintech conference. They were all together in one place…
All of them speaking or MOCing, some of them signing books, some talking at their radio station, all of them bringing serious content and energy to the conference.
Chris, in your honour a pic I just took this morning in LCY airport 😉


One of the most enlightened session to me was the Captive Funds session on Thursday.
PeterVan, the architect of Innotribe, called it the Hundred Million(s) Dollars Club.
Why enlightened ? For the “vibes”.
– 6 large institutions in the same panel with VERY senior people (except for SBT they just sent me ;-)),
– an agreement that Venture Investments is THE area where banks NATURALLY can collaborate and they actually do,
– new Innotribe groupies on board, specifically talking about Vanessa Colella from Citi, Christophe Chazot from HSBC, Julio Faura from Santander, Derrick Whyte from Barclays, Manuel Silva from BBVA and… yourS truly completed the panel, but Manuel and Innotribe go way back.

Look at the article on Sibos Issues :


– a true energetic session, relaxed, well structured, and most importantly with smiles all over
– wonderful pic of the session :

Sibos Boston 2014_5
Christophe Chazot, Vanessa Colella, Derrick Whyte, Manuel Silva & Julio Faura

Good also to reconnect with the coaches of the Startup Challenge, like Jacob Jeger, or Bijon Mehta, and some every cool Fintech folks that have all my esteem, like Samarth Serkar from Fintech DACH or Adrian Seto from Accenture Fintech Lab in Hong Kong.

Many old colleagues from SWIFT met in the Sibos exhibition hall, few of them at the Innotribe stand, too long to tell all the names, but was cool to catch up (Ok… I had to tell the VC story few times but I didn’t mind).
Loved to see again Jean-Loup Fabbro, one of the colleagues from the SWIFT Paris Office (about 13 years ago). Thank you JL for taking the time, back then, to explain me most of the things that I know about SWIFT technology.

Saw briefly Kosta and Lazaro, just for a drink, but I would say our friendship is time and geography independent.
I say only their first name when it s obvious – if you follow me – who they are.
Good to reconnect with the whole crew of L39, I don’t spend enough time there.
Same for Cognito (PR firm of Innotribe) tribe, very good memories together.
Nektarios, paradoxically we found a good spot to finally have a decent chat when the least we expected.
And loved it… (here with Ioana, due selfie in every conference we do).

Mircea Mihaescu, my business partner In the fund. The single persons I spend most of my phone-talking time with, so when we see each other we can actually have fun. And we did !

Of course I have spent hours in coaching the 14 startups of the Startup Challenge final. I had met all the entrepreneurs already in the three previous challenges. I actually have an anecdote to report, about Epiphyte, the winner of the challenge.
Edan, Epiphyte CEO and founder, just after the regional startup challenge (I think it was in NYC) that obviously saw the company winning, came to me with a bit of a sweet arrogance and asked “what exactly is Sibos, not sure I should bother…”.
I reminded him this episode and (we are good friends now) he truly thanked me to have convinced him to “give a damn” 😉

Petervan, Kevin, Ioana, Audrey : I know, very well, what does it mean to deliver a Sibos.
You rocked. Extremely happy to see Innotribe kicking. Bravo !

I named twenty-nine (ish) people in this blog, as I remembered the conversations we had, some of them a simple heads-up or a hug, some others with more time. It all happened in three days.
This is Sibos.

Stay tuned


The Grand Finale of the start up Challenge

There are zillions of articles and blogs about the Innotribe Start-up Challenge finals @ Sibos in Osaka, so you all know playMoolah and Gust won.
Let me put here, for reference, the Banking Technology article.

The reason I wanted to blog about it is not the news, but the vibes and the way forward.

First of all, the challenge put together a beautifully crowded room, our Innotribe tent, and – not only because it was the last day – the air you could breath in the room was special.
I felt very proud for what we achieved.
Kudos to Nektarios (@nekliolios) for having put so much energy, wisdom and structure to the Challenge during the whole program.

What we achieved?

Well, I would start by a number of financial industry professionals feeling something different, sparkling, intellectually challenging, and simply worth to take off line in conversations that will lead – I am positive – in business opportunities.

Also,the Innotribe start-up challenge generated over 120 M EUR in VC funding or in acquisitions, if we take into the account the participants to last year challenge in Toronto.
And this is not what matters. It s just a number.
The fact that Playmoolah (even before Osaka) struck a deal with OCBC and integrated their program in all the branches of the bank in Singapore, for example, is what makes us proud. And willing to do more.

What is more?
Let me share the objectives for the 2013 challenge.
We will of course run the Challenge again, with London, New York and Singapore as designated locations.
The opportunity is to leverage the Challenge in other locations, with specific innovation themes and in specific Eco-systems. Think Africa for Mobile or Latin America for Remittances. Our network is not as strong there as in the rest of the world, but trough the Challenge we would open the door to innovators, VCs and FI professionals.

The call for judges Is open as well.
Go on Innotribestartup.com and register with your LinkedIn account. We would love you to get the word out as well as helping Innotribe in screening the best and brightest.

Stay tuned