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


My Venture Capital week at Sibos Dubai


Not easy to wrap up my first Sibos in my new job, but I will try while (sitting in my Emirates flight back ) I am still awake (I suspect the typical siesta post Sibos party will hit me in no time).

First of all: Innotribe rocked.


I only attended the startup challenge (kind of obviously) and a couple of sessions, but the vibes were clearly there.
The team worked probably 20 hours per day on average for the entire week, and it was hard not to feel guilty for not helping or being with them. The last session, the campfire started with my forever friend Innes playing guitar (yes, playing guitar in a “camp” shaped session) was too hard to attend for me. enough emotions this week.

I was on a very interesting panel, unsuspectedly VERY popular, talking about collaboration and information sharing (and connected companies, and disruption from startups, etc etc). Allevo did a great job in putting this together.
My first panel in my new role. (Pic follows)


So I moved on.

I realized that Sibos is a crossways of different networks, if you know how to navigate amongst them.
The networks I am looking for, now, involve entrepreneurs, start-ups, cities and governments, innovative vendors and obviously other venture capital firms.
There are different forms of being in a VC business, and the one I preach for aims at fostering growth, create sustainable businesses, not speculate on capital iteration based on companies flipping.

Anthemis group organized an AMAZING dinner at floor 123 of the iconic Burg Khalifa. That dinner alone is a post by itself, will follow soon.
Let me still a pic from Scott Bales here:


All of a sudden, the start-up challenge took a totally different angle for me.
Being able to help these entrepreneurs to find the right scale path to the business, seeking opportunities to get them closer to Sberbank products and services team, and of course vet their companies with a VC hat is another game (a fascinating one).
Congrats KlickEx and Waratek, soon a more detailed blog on this too!

Another great discussion that took place in Dubai was about creating start-up ecosystems to help the economic development of the city.
Dubai ran out of oil 35 years ago. Yet, they managed to be one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
I would love to find a model where we can build vertical startup hubs focused in creating job opportunities and access to values creation to the people who dare.

You know why?

To answer this question, let me refer to one of the sessions I attended this year at Innotribe.
John Chavens.
Measuring health, stress, hearth condition through physical devices.
New paradigm.
Ultimately … Looking to measure happiness.

So WHY I want to help to create this Eco-systems?
Because the energy that flows when people are free to express their true self, in an environment that boost their creativity, is viral. Simply, makes that geography a better place.

It feels good. I feel damn good.

stay tuned


Singapore challenge, another informal chronicle

Singapore, Orchard Hotel, here we are again.
The asian leg of the startup challenge (painting this animal as a strange three legs one) was again a great success.

We were not distracted at all by the nearby Orchard Tower, we stayed focus, and deliver what we can call a great event, even covered by BBC Asia (see the pic if you don’t believe it, with an unusually blushing Nektarios acting like a pro in front of the camera!)


Given the dozens of articles in the press mentioning that, you all should know by no that these are the results of the challenge:


you add a .com after all of them and you have their website (this is me lazy and not willing to embed the link… Sorry, my energy Is slowed down by a almost broken ankle in a volley tournament just after landing from Singapore).

Vibes in the room were great.


And feedback from the startup and the crowd was touchingly great. Smiles everywhere, energy, willingness to help, great team. I believe our highly technological promoter score tells the same 😉


There is no time to rest, New York is just behind the door, and we are full speed to deliver the last regional challenge.

Special mention to Nektarios and Ioana, to whom goes the vast majority of the credits for the organisation and the production of the challenge. Ioana celebrated her 30th birthday in Singapore, and I learned it will stay memorable!
Nektarios kept everything in order, dealing with a million glitches that nobody saw and this is exactly the reason why this teamwork is truly grand.

Finally, a piece of artwork: Ioana spent some jet lagged hours in playing with her iPhone 5 (that we, miserable old iPhones 4 users looked with envy) and here’s the result:


Please take good note of the frame 😉

With that, New York is calling. We have work to do!

Stay tuned


The informal chronicle of the Innotribe Startup London Challenge

I have just recovered from the last week in London, where – once again – we had a blast in the Innotribe start-up challenge!

By now, you all know the winners, and you can find them in the Innotribe blog

Special mention for StudentFunder has won a 6 month drop-in membership at Level39!
(The special mention has nothing to do with the elephant costume Juan Guerra used for the presentation!


The morning started with the usual mentoring session, where 6 coaches (including yours truly) trained the entrepreneurs to make their “magic” pass in their 6 minutes pitch.
Great energy, some stress, not enough food, good vibes, and time flying!

In the afternoon, in a crowded Level39 conference space, the event…

In pure Innotribe style, few pictures …

Great production crew … (Not all in the following pic, but special mention to Ioana, the best recruit of thes Innotribe year!)


Great startups … Really … And to make justice, I ll publish a pic where they are all in…


Special mention as well to Nektarios, the master of ceremony and the man behind the great Organisation of this (and the next ones) event…
Here’s a pic with both of us on stage, just after he said he would translate my English for the audience … How kind! What he does not realize is that I actually make my Italian English unique so people is forced to concentrate haha !


What else?
Well, my iPhone rebooted all by himself the day after … And I ve lost all the pics of the event I wanted to use for my blog … So will update when I will collect more …
For now, back to work… Singapore is coming !

Stay tuned