MatteoRizzi_Gladiator

Gladiators

You know by now I like TV shows, especially to survive long flights like this one when I am not blogging or working or sleeping.

We are gladiators with a suit” is how each member of the team of Olivia Pope, the hero of Scandal, a US made TV show, define himself. These guys are often doing the groundwork.
They are relentless, they get their hands dirty, they are not afraid to break the rules and they trust each other, often when nobody else believe in their mission (these guys are often called to solve cases no one would take and their leader, beside sleeping and beeing madly in love with the President of the United States, is a true genius in dealing with these apparently unsolvable problems).

Allow me to make a jump back in 2008.
As Gottfried (SWIFT CEO) said in his opening speech at Innotribe at Sibos this year :

when Innotribe started SWIFT Management had no idea what this ‘thing’ was all about.

These are textual words, and despite – of course – being a bit emphasized, they are actually accurate.
FinTech was not even a commonly used word, back then.
Innovation merely existed as a vague concept, no fintech accelerators, no challenges, no Labs…
Nothing.

This is the first Innotribe stand at Sibos in 2009, in Hong Kong, with pictures from the very first Fintech Startups gathering (the Challenge came one year later) – please notice Lazaro Campos, you will see later in this post as well.

PS : notice Kosta and Peter with a suit and an unusual version of Mela 🙂

 

This is the Innotribe Stand in 2015 in Singapore just beside the SWIFT stand and actually since the very first session using the SWIFT stand as the second scene because the Innotribe stand was too small.

What you see inside is the most beautiful interactive all-round screen I have ever seen, in what I think was the most beautiful place of every Sibos I have ever attended.
We were gladiators.

Now something else…
It is actually the first time I check this. I didn’t know I was in the picture as well.
Look…

TransferWise Innotribe 2011

This is the link of Tranferwise pitch at Sibos 2011 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5eQZGvRZ8Y

Now everyone talks about Transferwise as the greatest example of Fintech Unicorn.
We were gladiators.

This is the article that announces the official opening od Level39, roughly two and a half years ago : it mentions Innotribe as one of their first events.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 05.37.11
Now, you would ask, why this rather nostalgic, maybe Innotribe too focused, kind of celebrative and self-celebrative type of post ?
Without making another useless list, I wanted to pay a tribute to the pioneers.
Most of them still around, who believed in this shift from the very beginning, when FinTech had to be explained (still has to, in some context, admittedly), when thinking of a startup working with a bank was in the best case a secret proof of concept in some remote place in the basement, and only ONE bank had a truly structured approach for Innovation and investment : CITI. But just starting.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 05.50.29

I had a recent, long overdue, super refreshing catch-up conversation with a true friend, a gladiator as well and we were both observing some of the disappointing consequences of a booming trend : shallowness, irrelevance, lack of content, greed, luckily confined and absolutely not defining the current system, but for someone who has seen the whole story is – lets say – easier to spot and easier to get bothered by.

So this is a gladiator’s celebration.
The beauty of it is that the ones who were there to share these moments and many others I had no time to report here, will read this and smile.
The good news is that the last two hours of this flight literally went away without me noticing anything.

Let me finish with one of my favourite pictures, recently : Lazaro and I at our FinTechStage event, in Barcelona, with a very symbolic black t-shirt convergence.

11427854_1153366148013066_1725153134044542641_o

If you have met Lazaro already, you know why he has all the rights to be in this post.

Stay Tuned

Matteo

FinTechPersona

FinTech Persona

My first attempt of a post written with my IPhone.
FinTech right now looks like the Klondike gold fever, where everybody with a hat ran to the river and over excitingly look for a piece of that mirage everybody else was chasing.
I am no different, of course, aside from the fact that I went to that river much earlier than the rest of the racers, when very few even knows what exactly to look for.

Interestingly, this world is following the most classical path, with very specific Persona :
the Specialist : usually trying to set up a consulting firm selling to the few they know extremely well and using it as a proof of concept to eventually scale a business,
– the Converted : Ex bankers finally realising that banks won’t change from inside and either join a Specialist or move to a start-up,
– the Evergreener : if you saw Level39 full of dust and with no windows or if you saw TransferWise at Innotribe, you are one of them. The challenge here is how to stay relevant without repeating yourself and keep playing the “I am a pioneer” card which after a while is not bringing you very far,
– the Collaterals : interesting one. There are loads of mentor, coaches, wannabe startup advisors, wannabe help-to-raise players and most of them are swinging around the different accelerators and incubators because that’s their natural playground for this,
– the Radicals : some Fintech Wolves, rather solitary, are betting on the disruption only and they find intellectual reward by assembling all possible evidence of it. Some of them is very weird, but not dangerous,
– the LateComers : usually financial institutions, they feel the need to do something about Innovation and bravely stand up for it, not always fully understanding what really is going to influence their institution, but conscious that someone need to look at this somehow,
– the Politicians : FinTech is their game to make a whole geography cooler, smarter or simply not struggling behind everywhere else. It’s the FinTech Throne that matters,
– the Predators : regardless at which stage you enter the game, if you have enough money you are always welcome and have a seat at the table. These ones, without the money, would be totally irrelevant.
– the Aggregators : incubators, accelerators, Start-up programs, glorified co-working spaces, FinTech brands, usually as good as the network of the aggregated founders is and from very local to very global,
– the Guevara’s : fascinating small group of people using FinTech wave to change the world, but – if you look deeper – to change THEIR world first. Nothing wrong with it, because they create a lot of good vibes in the process.

I could recognise myself in a few of these and the reason for me to write this post comes from two, very important considerations :
I want to stay relevant,
I don’t want to get bored and or generate boredom.

As already mentioned few times before, I found myself at ease when ANYTHING is at the peak of its creativity, when no one is really bothering (yet), because this is where the challenge is more rewarding.
In a few decades from now, this will be reminded as “the time when it all started”.
By then, if – collectively – we are smart enough – financial services will be a commodity in terms of access, a new global system in terms of value (probably not the money) and certainly much more inclusive.

Stay tuned.

Matteo

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

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