From the get go, ABN AMRO + Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator Managing Director, Allard Luchsinger looks for startups in the fintech space who can build companies that solve big, messy problems.
“We are looking for these unstoppable founders building companies at the intersections of fintech, sustainability and digital assets and who have a strong urge to leave a positive impact on this planet,” said Luchsinger.
It’s why ABN AMRO and Techstars invest a considerable amount of time and effort together in screening and interviewing the finalists. To maximize their chances of finding strong candidates, the program team leverages the sourcing capabilities from the global Techstars sourcing team. At the same time, the ABN AMRO team targets specific fintech ecosystems across Europe through in person events. This approach engages key fintech startup ecosystems while also attracting applications from the top startups at a global scale.
Once the class is set, the team ensures founders understand the expectations and reality of a startup. And while every effort is made to facilitate fruitful collaborations and opportunities with ABN AMRO and other Techstars partners, it is important to acknowledge that not every startup will secure a proof of concept or pilot. By setting realistic expectations from the outset, the program creates an environment where founders can focus on growth and product market fit, regardless of specific outcomes.
“After companies graduate from the program we continue to support them, and while a pilot is often a logical next step, it is important their product is ready for it,” said Laurens Hamerlinck, innovation partnerships lead at ABN AMRO.
Another key aspect of the Amsterdam-based program are the mentors. ABN AMRO leveraged Techstars’ global network of mentors in addition to engaging employees from across the ABN AMRO organization that have knowledge that spans across the banking sector. Even though products and technologies might not be fully built out when they start the program, mentors have more opportunities to make a stronger impact on startups by refining product market fit. Founders are also able to gain a better understanding around what it's like to operate in a regulated industry and make necessary changes to further refine their product.
By embracing a diverse range of mentors, the program has created an environment that fosters innovation and provides founders with a wide array of perspectives and expertise across different business functions which will hopefully create a solution that can positively impact their business and the client experience.
There’s also the overarching concept of being founder first and the need for mentors and those engaged in the program to have a give first mentality.
“It’s part of every conversation I have with a founder,” said Hamerlinck.
“You try to give something, even if they are not interested in our accelerator, or they are not the right fit because part of the give first mentality is to still help them, mentor them, and create that positive experience.”
This approach has allowed ABN AMRO to engage with startups and entrepreneurs beyond just their accelerator program and instead with the larger startup ecosystem as a whole.
ABN AMRO, and Techstars partnership embodies a supportive and collaborative environment that nurtures both the growth and success of startups and the longevity of the bank. Together, they are building a future where innovation thrives, and entrepreneurs are empowered to make a lasting impact.
To learn more about the ABN AMRO + Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator and the impact the program has had on their business and employee culture, download the full Innovation in Action Case Study.
If you’re interested in leveraging our expertise to reach your innovation goals, get in touch today.