Over the last five years, financial technology, better known as fintech has exploded. We have seen a rise in very many fintech startups, many of which have proven a threat to the traditional banking sector. In Europe alone, VC-backed fintech deal rose 124% compare to 2012’s total invested money. Just in 2016, European fintech companies raised $1.2B among 179 deals in total.
More and more, we are seeing people moving away from the traditional finance models to a more peer-to-peer model including crowd funding and contact-less payments. This has not been driven by corporate financial giants but by startups such as Kickstarter and Funding Circle.
There are many changes that occurred when it comes to banking in recent years thanks to startups. However, there is one sector that I think has felt the biggest change: loans. The traditional model for giving loans by banks and other financial institutions involved offering loans to borrowers at a higher rate than that offered to savers, thus making a killing off it. Banks were thriving with this model. Then came these startups that were offering a different model peer-to-peer loans.
This meant that you could, through online applications, receive a loan at a much better rate than what the banks were offering. Not only that, while it would take you weeks, to get a bank to approve your loan request after they have thoroughly vetted you, now, these startups are offering you loans in less than 24 hours.
How do these startups do this, you ask? Well, the answer is simple: Data. Using data mining techniques, these companies can easily pull data about you from the internet to get a better understanding of your finances. From your eBay sales and ratings to your Facebook data. This was virtually impossible to do 10 years ago.
What does this mean for banks?
Banks have started to recognize the amount of talent these startups have, and short of hiring them to lead departments in the bank, some of them have started adopting fintech services.
With all this in mind, fintech companies are not about to completely eradicate traditional banks. This is an uphill climb with a lot of traction to overcome at the start. No Fintech product feels as safe as a current account at a bank. Some banks will also gain from the rise of these companies, for example, Square makes it easier for small businesses to receive card payments, thus boosting the bank’s transaction volumes.
However, the Fintech disrupters will change and reshape the finance industry in many ways. Here are three of them:
- They will cut costs and improve the quality of financial services offered – fintech startups do not have the same regulations, restrictions, and legacy IT systems that banks face. Nor do they have the need to protect the existing business. While banks tend to operate within a specified period of time during the day, these startups function virtually all day every day.
- They have the advantage of so much online data available to assess risk – They can evaluate your business through social media pages, checking your ratings and getting a general sense of how viable your company is. For banks, risk assessment takes a long time and sometimes, they do not have enough information to go on. Fintech startups can, however, trace your digital presence using data mining techniques
- Fintech companies will create a more diverse and stable credit base. Banks tend to take in short-term liabilities such as deposits to turn into long-term assets like mortgages. Fintech companies, however, match savers and borrowers directly.
In conclusion, although banks have experienced some unsettling by Fintech companies, both can benefit from each other. One thing that Fintech companies definitely do not have yet, it the large client-base of banks. 42% of financial institution surveyed in Fintech Disruptors 2017 Report, want to explore potential partnerships with fintech startups.
A side note: Within the same report, we can find that 42% of surveyed banks, wants to set up a fintech incubator which honestly for me is quite a high number. Perhaps it is not really surprising data since there are so many corporates who are looking into an incubator model. My worry lies in how much bigger the incubator/accelerator market actually can be and how strong is the market need aka startups needs for such support. Will be interesting to see how “startup programs” for VC-backed and growing startups will develop over the next years.
This blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
GenieBelt are sharing the considerations that you will have when you are starting up. GenieBelt participated in Startup Weekend back in 2012 (then it was GenieInspect).
According to recent reports, more and more people are looking forward to starting their own companies. In case you too are thinking of setting up your own company, it is essential to note that: the distance between the thought of starting up and finally being able to take action is usually extremely vast. In addition to this, there is the sad reality that majority of the people presently thinking of starting their own companies would never see through their plans.
In case you are amongst those who are launching their businesses then welcome to the adventure. First off, it is essential to understand the fact that the odds are not in your favor but again that is precisely why you are doing it. In the event that you decide to bridge the gap and take the plunge know that you are definitely on the right track.
In addition to all of the above, below are the top 10 considerations when starting your own company. They include the fact that:
1. Your business might fail.
In the process of planning to start your company, you should know that in case you fall in step with some of the finer details, chances are that your business will most definitely bite the dust. As a matter of fact, according to reports, the overall business failure rate is set at around 90%. These statistics factor in issues such as the industry type and failure time frame. In addition to the general fact that your business risks failure, it is essential to understand the fact that timing is equally of significant importance.
2. You are bound to have competition.
In case you are thinking of starting your own company, do not think that you are the only one with that idea. Just so you know, at any given point and time, there are usually several others who are competing for the same customer base. As a matter of fact, some of your competitors may even be better than you. For instance, their branding may seem snazzier than yours; their marketing budgets may seem larger than yours etc
Since you can’t possibly avoid or get rid of the competition, the best thing to do not to be discouraged by it. Just so you know, without competition, you could easily become lazy and lose your edge. This being the case, it is strongly advised that you embrace the competition and improve because of it.
3. You will need to embark on learning more than you already know.
According to reports, many entrepreneurs who set out to start companies do so because they have a detailed overview of the kind of business niche that they are venturing into. Having the talent alone and the expertise to accompany it does not necessarily serve as a guarantee for success when looking forward to setting up your company. Just so you know, you will need slightly more in terms of scalability, marketing, software, sales, laws and software in order to make the business a success.
4. You will need a significant amount of money to spend
Companies can be bootstrapped (launched with nothing more than one’s existing cash or resources). What’s more, these same companies usually require a significant initial capital apart from good financial planning. One perfect place to get the initial capital for setting up a company is leveraging small business loans. Take note, you should prepare yourself to spend money and also protect it being the valuable resource that it is.
5. You will not immediately succeed.
You will agree and support the fact that the title of business owners is usually in most cases associated with Bentleys and Rolexes. Take note, the harsh reality of the matter is starting a company is more of a soul sucking adventure rather than an income boosting experience. Take note, even though riches may be in your future, fact is, the path to achieving them will most definitely be long and hard.
6. You will need to obey laws.
Just so you know, in each and every country there are business regulations which you would need to comply with in case you are looking to start a company in any particular country. Taking this into consideration, it is strongly advised that you perform due diligence in order to have a clear idea of what compliance in the region you are looking to invest in entails. In the process of doing this, it is strongly advised that you closely pay attention the company registration, licenses as well as taxes. The last thing you need is finding yourself in legal mire as a result of your own laxity.
7. You can never do it by yourself.
The lone ranger entrepreneur is usually such an extremely romantic image. Even though it may seem extremely economically provocative, it is not accurate. Just so you know, on average, startups with a single founder usually have such a high likelihood of failure because of the emotional pressure which startups are known to exert upon individuals. At the bare minimum, start your business with a founder or even three. In addition to this, employ several different independent contractors alongside your preferred service providers to supplement your knowledge, time, commitment and talent.
8. Your target customers won’t immediately come flocking.
It is essential to understand the fact that regardless of how innovative your idea may be, it is not a guarantee that customers would immediately find you and start flocking your way.
9. You would be tempted to quit.
In case you are looking forward to starting your own company, you should let this be the last course of action. Just so you know, at some point of time, expect to be tempted to quit, in fact, you will be racked with doubt forcing you to consider jumping ship.
10. Staff Classification
You should also pay close attention to how you staff classification is done as this is the only way through which you would be able to make good of your idea once you plan is in motion.
Everything taken into consideration, it is essential to understand the fact that it is only you who can make it happen for yourself.
Don’t forget you can stay tuned with Startup Weekend Copenhagen, on social media with #CphSW
This is part of our challenges for the upcoming Startup Weekend. This challenge is provided by Nets. They will also be present during the weekend as mentor on Saturday, so the teams has a chance to talk about solutions and ideas.
Payment terminals have been there forever. We experience them as solid, secure and trust worthy. Some years ago, everyone also had secure and trust worthy dial phones, that phone companies saw un-wired by GSM, wireless and ultimately mobile phones. Amazon recently launched the Amazon Go store where, using biometric and cognitive technologies, un-wired the traditional store, rendering payment terminals/cashiers, un-necessary.
Can you un-wire stores, but do it simpler than Amazon, un-wire the store without changing it?
- What underlying technologies are needed to replace terminals? Are these technologies readily available to all consumers/shops?
- Are these technologies secure/reliable enough? If not, how would you improve security/reliability? What technological advancements are needed for these technologies to be more secure/reliable?
- What kind of products/services/shops can be good candidates to replace their payment terminals? What would they require/have instead?
- When, if at all, will consumers find use for a terminal free world? What’s in it for a consumer? Consider:
- A millennial
- A busy parent on the way to making dinner
- A senior citizen
- When, if it all, will merchants find use for a terminal free world? What’s in it for the merchant? Consider:
- A big supermarket chain
- An independent clothes shop
- A restaurant/bar
Blockchain, or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is advertised as a game changing technology. Its inherent properties: security, immutability, transparency, infinite audit trail , make it ideal for a range of financial use cases, as well as a disintermediating effect on many of traditional services by Banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges, clearing houses.
Today, exchange of value is done via Fiat currencies. The currencies we all agree on and are regulated by the national bank. To exchange value on DLT, one would need to augment the it with traditional fiat currency systems. Yes, thers’s Bitcoin, but it will take some time before we get our salaries in Bitcoin….
How can we transform DLT into a true value exchange, and not only value recording/management, system? What, if any, are the use cases for a digital currency? Consider:
- What is the scope? National, municipal, local neighbourhood?
- Who would be interested in such a currency, within the scope e.g. authorities, municipalities?
- Should it be issued by a central authority? If so, why? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- What can be pragmatic applications of such a digital currency, within the above assumptions? Consider:
- Sharing economy
- Digital public sector
- B2B/interbank trading
This is part of our challenges for the upcoming Startup Weekend. This challenge is provided by SDC. They will also be present during the weekend as mentor on Saturday, so the teams has a chance to talk about solutions and ideas.
FAMILY BANKING SERVICE CONCEPT
As one very known man said: ”People need banking, but they don’t need banks”. This is right now becoming reality for many banks, so what can we do? We still have to have money to pay bills and buy goods. Many families are facing the same challenges in their daily life as they wish to fulfil their dreams of being married, going on vacation, saving for a specific thing and a lot of other dreams.
- How can we make one or more unique concepts for the next generation of families?
- How will the future families look like and how will they use the banks?
- How can we use technology to help the future families in their daily nancial life?
- You have to consider that the trend is that more and more people don’t want to own things.
- You have to be aware of the growing use of social media as part of the concept.
- You might also consider whether you, in your solution, can integrate one or more of the following value adds:
If you are in the tech ecosystem, you have probably experienced wave after wave of new buzzwords that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere! Well, that is the way of the tech space. You just need to dig your heels into the ground and take a third person view of all the happenings before diving in. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in all the flurry and excitement.
There has recently been a lot of talk about insurance tech – how it is getting to the peak of its cycle and how tech entrepreneurs can greatly benefit from it. Insurance has been, for a long time now, regarded as a very out-dated, dreary consumer service that is still in existence. What techies are doing now is to try and stir up the sector and hopefully come up with some revolutionary concept such as Blockchain.
There are many areas of opportunity in the insurance space. The benefits that are driven from it are great, so it is likely (hopefully) something that is here to stay, and not just a trend.
First things first. It’s a huge market! How many people pay insurance premiums ever year?
Probably more than those that pay taxes. Even with it being such a big and pertinent sector, it has somehow been able to go unnoticed by technology trends. Until now.
From selling to collecting insurance, the processes involved are slow and inefficient. You will find that if you scrutinize these systems, many employees and processes will be rendered redundant.
Not only that, you will ask yourself why an insurance company, in this century, will ask you to fax them a document. In a world where you can buy yourself a plane from the comfort of your home, with all your particular specifications, why can’t we apply for insurance online on our mobile device?
An estimated four in every ten U.S. adults do not own life insurance policies, and I can bet it’s nothing to do with cost. People want to purchase things easily at the press of a button, not stand in line or wait for an insurance salesman to walk up to them.
What are Possible Areas of Improvement?
All the problems mentioned above are areas that can be greatly improved by technology. Insurance is a large sector and it’s impossible to cover all of it in one single article, but we’ll mention a few areas that seem to be hot.
- Leveraging data platforms – One of the major components of insurance is data. Insurance could leverage data to improve operations such as sales and underwriting. Nowadays, you can tell a lot about a person using technology. With wearables in the market and social media platforms showcasing people’s lives, this should definitely be explored.
- Digitizing processes – I remember filling out insurance forms; I not only had to answer every single question by hand, I had to manually fill in two other copies. For Pete’s sake, why couldn’t I, at the very least, just make copies of the already-filled version? But, no, these are the processes they have been using for years.
- Customer relationships – Yes, some people still believe that human interaction is the best way to manage customer relationships, but in an age where people are more focused on their screens, I don’t think face-to-face conversations about insurance is a good enough reason to look up from your screen. Insurance companies can use mobile app interaction for those services that do not actually add value to customer interaction. IoT sensors are also another technology that can be leveraged.
These are only but a few of the possible changes that can be made. As mentioned, the insurance sector is a blue whale waiting to be explored. Just make sure that you have the consumer in mind, comply with regulation and build a solid business model around your idea.
The year of 2005 gave rise to a new technology that would take the financial sector by storm. Fintech was the buzzword of that year, with companies either uttering it out of fear or jubilation at what was to come. This breakthrough in technology saw technologists in t-shirts and jeans competing with the suits in the highly corporate banking sector to offer the same services at a fraction of the cost. Consequently, Fintech services are changing how many industries conduct their business, from loans to investments and so much more.
Imagine a scenario where you need to urgently buy a home appliance but you do not have the full amount at once. Your options are to either take out a loan or go to the store and pay for the goods at unfathomable interest rates.
Some B2B Fintech companies have come up with an innovative solution to this. They enable online retailers to instantly offer monthly repayment plans for goods at checkout on a shopper’s existing credit card. This bears no risk to the seller as customers use their current credit cards.
Also, breaking up payments into smaller installments attracts more customers to you and your net sales will increase. Fintech services such as these are proving to be quite disruptive to the market.
2. Money Transfer
In this digital age, it’s no longer a viable option to have to wait days or even weeks to send money overseas, nor can you incur such high costs. Without banks as the middle man, Fintech companies have come up to fix this problem by offering affordable rates for sending money and also fast transfers – in a matter of minutes!
Send money in your currency and the recipient receives it in their currency.
Let’s face it, paying off loans is not a bed of roses. Half of the time, you do not know what your repayment rate is and the other time, you spend dreading to go to the bank to repay your loan or even find out how much you need to pay. Fintech companies like CommonBond have come up with an innovative way to help students get out of this fix.
They pay off the borrower’s lender and then deal with the students at a more personal level. This works well the borrowers as they are assured of the whole repayment, and the borrowers can easily get all the information they need about their loans.
CommonBond also offers other services such as funding students in need and helping them identify job opportunities.
4. Mobile Payment
So you are a small business and have no idea how to go about receiving payments from your customers. How are you ever going to consolidate all those payments? Well, not to worry, Fintech companies are now helping small businesses operate like large companies all from the comfort of your tablet or phone.
They let you accept both card and cash payments once a customer has browsed your products, chosen what to buy and is at checkout. The customer then proceeds to receive a receipt either physically by mail or printed.
Have you watched one of those movies where you see stock traders huddled in a room trading and making lots of money from it? There are several Fintech companies that enable you to trade via their platform from your laptop or phone.
What’s better, is that they give you information on trading trends at the click of a button so you can have information on all the stocks you are trading and users can slowly build their portfolio.
Fintech is definitely here to stay. The rise of Fintech services is sure to grow in the next couple of years and we will see many businesses adopting Fintech services due to their accessibility, low cost and efficiency. This is good news for both business owners and customers, as they will be able to offer their services and goods at reduced costs.
If you’ve heard the word Blockchain mentioned in conversation, you probably have heard it been used synonymously with Bitcoin. Well, that is not the case. Bitcoin is essentially only an application that is built on the blockchain platform. Blockchain, more impressively, is a secure, distributed and shared database on which various applications, not only digital currency, can be built.
If you are wondering what some of these applications are, this article will give you a few that will have you thinking outside the box.
The world today is at a great risk of digital insecurity. It is estimated to cost the digital security industry about $18.5 annually. Managing digital identities could be made both efficient and secure by Blockchain technologies, thus reducing cases of fraud.
Whether it is banking, healthcare, citizenship documentation, national security or retailing, the adoption of Blockchain technologies would be beneficial. This is because they are based on digital signatures and irrefutable identity verification based on public key cryptography.
Distributed Cloud Storage
Before, the only way to share a digital document with another person was to send it to them and ask them to make revisions on it. This scenario would create a lengthy back and forth between the people concerned as one had to wait until the other person was done editing and sending the document so as to view it.
That is how databases work today. Even in banks! They briefly lock access while they make a transfer and then update the other side and finally reopen access to update. This process is not very efficient. Imagine if the database can be accessed concurrently and a single version of it is always available.
What would you say if someone told you that you could significantly slash your mortgage rate? Ridiculous, right? At least not in the current economy. Wrong! The use of smart contracts is increasingly drawing near. Smart contracts are simply digitized contacts that are entered by the Blockchain that is automated and can self-execute.
The current norm is bringing in a third party to execute a contract rather than trusting one central authority. Companies such as Rootstock and Ethereum are trending in this area.
Whenever the topic of Online voting is brought us, there is a general sense of apprehension. This is because many think that it is sufficiently insecure. The adoption of online voting can be made more acceptable through the use of Blockchain technology. This is because is it transparent and immutable in nature.
In 2014, the Liberal Alliance, a Danish political party became the first major political party to adopt Blockchain technology for internal voting. Other organizations around the world have expressed interest and we will, in the near future see it being actualized. An added advantage is that the implementation of Blockchain technology for voting should increase the number of voters per region.
Tracking Taxpayer Money
Blockchain technologies can be used to track money including students loans and international aid. It has potential to be used also to manage the distribution of grants as this has proven to be rather complex. Blockchain will make this easier as it is accessible to both parties, thus solving the problem at hand.
When you buy something online from a site, you get a digital receipt, closely resembling a physical one. Imagine if you could integrate all your receipts from all your spending into one Blockchain. All your data can be verified without a third party and it will all be immutable and unforgeable. The best thing about it? All your records are automatically timestamped.
Most of these applications are still in development phase and the full extent of Blockchain capabilities has yet to be unearthed. The bottom lone is that Blockchain is here to stay and is transforming how we, as a society, function.
The purpose of Techstars’ Worldwide Entrepreneur Network is to help entrepreneurs succeed. Check out the impact of the Techstars’ network over the past 10 years.
In the last few months, I have been paying closer attention to Fintech scene in the Nordics. Not surprisingly, The Nordic region is the second largest Fintech community in Europe. It closely follows the UK, having raised an estimated 150 million dollars in venture funding in 2015. The Nordic region consists of Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark.
Here are but a few Fintech companies that top the list of the Nordic region’s most notable.
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Founders: Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth, and Victor Jacobsson
Raised:$ 291.3 million
This Swedish Fintech company provides online payment services for storefronts. Their business model involves letting customers “buy” goods from online stores by simply inputting their postcode and email. The buyer then gets notified to fill in payment and delivery details, while Klarna pays the seller. Klarna later claims the money from the buyer. This differs from other online retail companies in that Klarna bears the risk, taking it away from the seller and buyer. Klarna handles about 40% of all e-commerce sales that take place in Sweden.
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Founders: Jacob de Geer, Magnus Nilsson
Raised:$ 244 million
This is a Fintech company that offers its services primarily for small businesses. Its aim is to democratize and simplify payments. It also offers services such as point of sales, partners applications, and payments. Notably, it was the first company to develop a chip-card reader and an app for use by smartphone users. Not only can this be used in the Nordic region but globally too as it meets international standards.
Based: Reykjavik, Iceland.
Founders: Georg Ludviksson
Raised:$ 6.5 million
Meninga’s aim is to transform the way banks and advertisers use transaction data. It builds personal finance management tools to sell to banks who then give to their customers. It has worked with banks worldwide, having a consumer base of over 40 million. The main tools they work with are big data, operational benchmarking, analytics and predictive models.
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Founders: Daniel Kjellén, Fredrik Hedberg
Raised:$ 14.17 million
Tink is a free app that helps users manage their finances. What’s amazing about it that rather than having to manually input all your financial data into the app, Tink can automatically sync with your financial services. It is able to categorize and analyze your spending over a period of time. They also offer the service of paying your bills and inter-bank transfers. Tink has over 35,000 users in Sweden and is now expanding to cover all of Europe.
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Founders: Carl Wilson, Joel Jakobsson, Lukas Gratte
Raised:$ 30 million
Trustly offers solutions for online Banking ePayments by use of its direct payments technology. The customer simply passes his banking credentials to Trustly, who makes purchases on their behalf. It assumes most of the risk from the customer or store. The company’s online payment solutions were implemented in over 800 stores in Europe and reaching more than 67 million consumers in 2016.
Based: Lulea, Sweden
Founders: Olov Renberg
BahavioSec is definitely a company to watch out for. It uses biometric security that allows banks to tells who you are just by how to type, move your mouse or touch your phone. This is taking it a notch higher compared to the usual fingerprint and retinal scans that we are used to seeing. They have offices throughout Europe and even in Hong Kong.
Based: Oslo, Norway
Founders: Daniel Döderlein
Raised:$ 11.5 million
Auka was originally known as mCash but rebranded to Auka. It built a payment app that allows people to pay their friends or even stores from their phones or tablets. It works hand in hand with Norway’s second-largest bank and has about 500,000 customers in the country.
Also, the Fintech space has clearly grown and is booming in the Nordic Region, in the future, it would be good to see an expansion into and collaboration with the global Fintech ecosystem. More and more Fintech startups are emerging just from Copenhagen region alone.
This blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
At Startup Weekend Copenhagen, together with a dedicated team of local organizers, we are organizing FinTech Edition in March 2017. Visit our webpage for more information. Also feel free to drop us a line email@example.com or tweet @cphsw
If you have spent some time in the tech ecosystem, or have a couple of nerds for friends, you probably have heard of the word Blockchain. For many, the concept of Blockchain remains elusive although it is relatively very simple.
What exactly is Blockchain?
Simply put, Blockchain is a ledger that can be publicly accessed where transactions are recorded and anonymously confirmed. To elaborate this, let’s take a look at how money is transacted. Before technologies such as Blockchain were available, companies and businesses relied on institutions such as banks and government to ensure certainty and trust. These institutions acted as intermediaries. Authentication and record keeping was essentially the work for middlemen to perform.
Now, imagine a situation where you are trading digital assets such as stocks, money and intellectual property, which are basically files in a database. This could lead to spending the same unit of value more than once (known as the double spending problem). Well, blockchain solves this problem by eliminating the need for third-party intermediaries such as banks.
Now you are probably wondering why the name Blockchain. A blockchain contains a list of ordered records known as blocks. Each of these blocks contains a timestamp and is linked to the previous block, forming a chain. Once data is entered into a block and is recorded, it cannot be retroactively altered. This makes blockchain secure by design. A blockchain can be accessed by many people from different computers and locations at the same time, while still maintaining its independence, transparency, and permanency.
Blockchains are not simply stored on a person’s computer, regardless of how large it is or how much memory space, it has. Bitcoin, for example, has its chain managed by several distributed nodes, which have a copy of the entire blockchain. Copies and access are all distributed and updated through these nodes. Thus you cannot have a situation where all data is erased from one single source.
Bitcoin and Blockchain: What is the relation?
It has been said that Blockchain is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. Bitcoin first broke the ice in 2008, authored in a white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. It basically spelled out in detail, an innovative peer-to- peer system that did not need an intermediary, such that online payments were transferred directly. As much as Bitcoin was revolutionary and widely spoken about, it was quickly realized that the real treasure was not the cryptocurrency itself (Bitcoin) but the platform is was build upon.
Bitcoin is only one of over seven hundred applications that are currently using blockchain technology. Bitcoin, as we see, is a digital currency, and despite the name, does not manifest in actual coins. This brought about a new view of ownership of currency. You do not literally have a physical thing in your hand to trade with nor is it in your bank account. You simply transfer ownership to someone else by creating a record in the blockchain.
Is blockchain going to transform the way we carry out transactions?
There is no doubt about it. Blockchain is a highly anticipated disruptive technology that will change the world. The most exciting thing is that we haven’t even used it to its full potential yet, nor can we even grasp the magnitude of its reach. Blockchain is revolutionizing the internet, from being an internet of information, where people can easily and instantly communicate with each other across all borders, to the internet of value, meaning that people can instantly trade assets.
Blockchain is set to cause a disruption in several industries that rely on intermediaries, such as academia, real estate, healthcare, insurance, finance, banking and the public sector – just to name a few. Although it will probably render in some of the workforce redundant by technology, it will greatly benefit the economy as a whole.
This is a Guest Blog from Techstars Alumni, Amandeep Midha, who also is a Startup Weekend Veteran. He shares his experience from both participating at Startup Weekend and being part of the Techstars accelerator with Barclays in New York City.
Who is ERNIT ?
Ernit is a Danish Fintech company aims to teach children about money through the ingenious combination of a physical piggy bank and accompanying app. The app allows kids to save digital money and allocate amounts of their choosing to particular goals, while the piggy bank helps them to track the progress they make
What is Techstars ?
Techstars is a global ecosystem that, in association with Barclays bank, helps entrepreneurs build their business by offering accelerators, venture capital, community programs and an enormous network to the startups they deem worthy of attention and capable of success. Techstars is also a parent organization of Startup Weekend family
Journey Through Techstars Accelerator:
Techstars Accelerator is 13 week long program after careful selection of 1% success rate among startups that are picked from across the globe. The unique part of Barclays Techstars accelerator was that it was Fintech Accelerator Program run right from the heart of New York with plenty of mentors, innovation staff from Barclays and other financial institutions available to mentor the participating startups. While first week is general bootstrapping, 2nd and 3rd week are what is called mentor madness where over the period of work day over 50 mentors visit us all in 2 weeks and the speed dating that follows us to find mutual perfect match and a startup can pick 4-6 mentors for themselves. Techstars also emphasizes on weekly OKR ( Object Key Results ) and KPI metrics which keep the whole operation in motion at a pace while being in accelerator can sound like being in B-school and in full-time job at the same time
We all then adjust ourselves to these KPIs, pick specific goals in weekly OKR sheet and then go all the way in achieving those, and these goals can be as specific as possible e.g. publishing the app with 3 new features and having 75 people signed up, to quote an example. Details of my engineering notes I had published earlier at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/engineering-notes-techstars-crafting-worlds-first-piggy-arora as we developed ERNIT all around in fintech, IoT, platform dimensions and led the path of adoptions with various other tools, dashboards, and KPIs. Coming from a Startup Weekend hackathons regular, I would say it was 10+ weeks of hackathon with surprising amount of code being added and features delivered in extremely short time to compare otherwise
How to Shine as a Developer in 54 hours:
As a developer participating in Startup Weekend, it can be real fun and enriching experience
Counting on my experience, I can offer the following suggestions:
- Always Pitch Something
It does not matter if you come prepared to pitch a topic or not, just recollect any hiccup in your daily lives, offer to build a solution for it and see if your thoughts align with rest of people. How to test that solution or validate the problem that you propose to solve? Just by pitching it. As they say “The person who stands for nothing, falls for anything”
- Wardrobe Readiness
During Startup Weekend, the only wardrobe developer needs to care about is her/his multiple hats. Make sure you wear those thinking of designer, customer, growth hacker, UX analyst and maybe more hats that you can think of!
- Manage Your Time Well
The 54 hour format gives little room for something concrete product to build upon, yet at the begin itself you could sense the mood of pitches, theme of the event e.g. Fintech , and study something prior from common problems and possible solutions you could be coding to build out during this weekend. While you may still be waiting for team to conceretize coding task for you, yet this is time you could use to utilize and setup Startup Weekend perks and have the DevOps ready for team communication e.g. Website, Slack channel, or Team Facebook Group and move along
- Try Something New & Learn Together
- Challenge the Status Quo
Easier said than done, this is I expect from any developer to use this skill at the time of sleepy hours. You will be working late often past midnight both on Friday and Saturday and when you find your team members low on energy, that is time you can be little nasty or condescending towards business idea for which you are coding. If done in moderation, it helps keeping team members awake and fresh thought process always in circulation and you have always something more to do than you can handle
- Don’t shy away from User Interviews
While working as developer professionally, you may hardly get a chance to make user interviews with your team lead or UX person. Startup Weekend gives you complete recipe and experience that you do not miss out on any stage and wear a different hat and have your little walk-of-pride
- Look Around & Make Friends
I could be no-nonsense hyper-professional at my workplace, but I know Startup Weekend is the place where I express more and make more friends while discussing business objectives, goal setting for set of hours, having those beer and coffee meetings with whole team or sub-team and keep things in motion
If there is some other team working on other area of interest to you, go ahead and approach them and help them as well if you can afford apart from your time with your team. There are no hard & fast rules and all of us are looking to learn and contribute
- Mentoring Feedback Updates
Mentoring feedback during Startup Weekend could cause significant changes in solution than earlier, be prepared for those in advance and have that conversation from your co-developers or event organizers if you wish to. Agility to amend solutions based on feedback is rare skill and there is no better time to practice it other than being at Startup Weekend yourself
- Karma whether you believe or not
Be prepared if you get caught in a team where things may not be good, there may not be teamwork, or someone just wants to take advantage of your skills to concept proof something for him/her. Either you should have quit that team on Friday evening itself, but do not loose yourself in agony and just keep doing and building what you are awesome at and make it good learning experience for yourself. When the time comes for final pitches on Sunday afternoon, everyone will know whose contribution to team has been most, and there are always recruiters and other people who definitely won’t miss out your awesomeness
- Life After Startup Weekend
Even if you do not win, most of individual journeys still do not end with Startup Weekend. I still cherish some of my best friends whom I met at such hackathons. A creative burst and refreshing zest of developer life that I enjoy with those buddies is extremely special long after the event is over.
About the Author:
Amandeep is Vice President of Engineering at ERNIT and also he was the first employee to join ERNIT early 2016 after coming from unique experience of working in small to large software organizations across Europe and Asia. As passionate Fintech hacker at multiple international hackathons, at Startup Weekend Amandeep had participated over 5 times and he recounts his experience refreshing every time. Currently he is part of body of Nordic Startup Weekend organizers and provides technical assistance to Startup Weekend participants