TransFICC is one of 19 start-ups on Accenture's London FinTech Innovation Lab - 8 weeks into a 12-week accelerator programme.
Accenture also runs these programmes in New York, Asia and Dublin.
Why did TransFICC join?
We applied along with over 200 start-ups, and were lucky enough to be selected by the partner banks.
The main reason we joined was to get access to decision makers at our target banks in Europe. In 2017 we joined The FinLab in Singapore, which introduced us to banks and the buy-side in Asia, but the Accenture programme has opened doors for us in Europe.
The FinTech Innovation Lab provides advice on sales, marketing, targeting prospects, and pitching (more of that later). Their aim is to get start-ups in front of the right people at the right organisations - not easy when there are multiple departments involved in any bank/FinTech implementation.
They also keep you busy meeting Lab mentors. A recent highlight was hearing from Cris Conde, the executive-in-residence, who gave a very interesting presentation, talking us through his story - He founded Devon Systems as a 3 man start-up on Wall Street in 1983. He grew the business and then sold it to Sungard in 1987, becoming CEO. By the time Cris left Sungard in 2011 he had grown the business to 26,000 employees and $5.6Bn in revenue. Inspiring stuff.
The first round of pitches involved meeting 16 banks at a speed dating event. This allowed the banks to decide whether or not to invite us to a formal pitch, and for them to make sure they got us in front of the right audience.
Next, we were invited to pitch to individual banks, including HSBC, Credit Suisse, Intesa SanPaolo, Nordea, Lloyds and UBS. To date we have formally pitched to 11 banks, with 5 or 6 more formal pitch sessions to come.
That’s about 1,000 people, and by the end of 12 weeks we expect to have pitched to more than 1,200.
The format of pitches varies widely. They vary in terms of the number of people, the departments invited, the time allocated, and even whether it is a short overview followed by Q&A or a full-blown presentation.
Depending on what the bank wants, you have to know your pitch and adapt to any situation.
At some banks we have made formal pitches to a large audience, the largest so far being 350 people. Even in this formal situation, you can be asked for either for a 3 minute pitch with no slides, or a 10 minute pitch followed by 10 minutes of Q&A.
Other banks have held smaller sessions, sitting around a table with 4-6 people, which enabled those with a particular interest in our product area to see a demo and ask detailed questions. When that session ended the groups of people rotated, and we repeated the process. At one bank we did this with 6 different groups, taking up a whole afternoon.
Most banks have also followed the event with informal networking and demos, plus a much needed beer!
Accenture streams the start-ups. So whilst there are 19 companies on the program, the sessions are focused so that bank attendees can pick the right stream.
Our stream is Investment Banking. and we have pitched to multiple interested parties - the Fixed Income business, or FICC or Capital Markets. Innovation teams, Change Management departments, IT, Investment teams and more. Depending on the bank, we may have spoken with one or two of these groups in the past, but we have rarely spoken with them all. The main point about the FinTech Innovation Lab is that it has been great for extending our network.
The programme has helped to raise our profile with banks we were already working with, plus making introductions where we previously had no contact.
We have already mentioned that Accenture provides training, mentoring and introductions. They also do a huge amount of organising. They have 3 full time staff on the programme - a big thanks to Laura McGuinness, Tom Chester and Jack Keeling. We have also met with the Accenture Teams that cover the banks we are pitching to, ensuring a joined up approach.
The Bottom Line
Accenture provides start-ups with training and a platform to present to large banks, whilst saving the bank sponsors a huge amount of time by enabling them to meet with innovative start-ups that already have traction.
We are getting real value from the programme and have met some other interesting start-ups worthy of mention - Issufy, Primary Bid and Traderion in Capital Markets. Regnosys and Safescribe in RegTech.
And so to the bottom line....should you apply for the next FinTech Innovation Lab? If you are targeting banks and want more visibility, then the answer is YES.