By Kartik Varma, Managing Director of ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator
Techstars and ABN AMRO are excited to open applications for their inaugural year of the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator that will kick off in the spring of 2021. As the world of finance is ever changing, there couldn’t be a better place to be based than Amsterdam, the birthplace of many financial innovations over the past centuries, to further redesign the financial sector and build a better future for consumers and businesses.
Financial innovation is in the DNA of the Netherlands. We’ve seen this most recently with the world's fastest growing payments infrastructure company built from the ground up behind the dikes of Holland, which had one of the most successful fintech IPOs. But this and other recent success stories are just the continuation of a culture of innovation that began a long time ago, traced back as far as medieval times.
The first company ever to IPO and issue stocks and bonds through a stock exchange was Dutch. Our modern day stock market’s roots come from the Dutch Republic, where the first fully-fledged stock market was established and developed. The term ‘Dutch auction’ derives directly from the auction’s invention in the Netherlands. Local merchant bankers in the Netherlands were the first to develop securitisation and sophisticated methods for structuring loans based on overseas property as collateral. In fact, in the 18th century the purchase and development of property in the newly-designated capital city of Washington D.C. was financed by mortgage-backed bonds underwritten by Dutch merchants. The first mutual funds in the world were established in 1774 by an Amsterdam-based businessman forming a trust under a name that translates to “unity creates strength”.
The history of financial innovation in the Netherlands serves as our inspiration as we combine the two powerful networks of Techstars and ABN AMRO to offer ambitious entrepreneurs a strong and global platform to help achieve their dreams and make an impact in the world.
So, if you’re wondering if the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator is right for your fintech startup, the resounding answer is: “Ja natuurlijk!”. Amsterdam is one of the most digitally savvy cities in the world, full of youthful and vibrant energy. Its pro-business culture and world-class infrastructure with incredible global connectivity are a great complement to the value and connections ABN AMRO and Techstars will bring to founders participating in the program.
Today, fintech means so much more than transferring money or investing savings - it is a technology stack that operates as a fundamental backbone of our economies, touching all areas of our lives. There is a new economy being unleashed by an information technology revolution, along with the obvious challenges of climate change, cybercrime and financial inclusion, that needs new and enduring financial solutions to power this era. We want to partner with entrepreneurs who share and believe in our ambition that financial services have a critical role to play in creating the world’s desired future.
Specifically, we are interested in entrepreneurs addressing innovations and solutions in digital assets, data privacy, cyber crime and digital safety, financial health and inclusion, reinventing the customer experience for convenience and supporting the client journey in life and business, and financial products and services that facilitate progress towards a circular economy and energy transition away from a carbon-based economy.
Above all, we want to engage with exceptional entrepreneurs across all areas of fintech. We welcome applications from founders around the world, of all races, ethnicities, genders and cultures. At Techstars, our vision is to create equitable access to innovation and entrepreneurship through a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
ABN AMRO is extremely committed to disruptive innovation and fintech, and is already running a €100m venture fund to invest in the sector. The accelerator’s proximity to ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam will provide founders access to industry experts, technologists, data scientists and business sponsors across the bank that can offer startups highly personalized feedback and business development opportunities internally and across its vast client network. Time is money for a startup, and the Group Innovation Team at ABN AMRO has the capability to work with startups in a productive environment dedicated to innovation where startups’ products or services can be deployed internally for proofs-of-concept and live pilots within 24 hours.
At Techstars, our programmes are designed to help founders gain traction through deep mentor engagement, rapid iteration cycles, and fundraising preparation. We accept 10 startups per programme, enabling us to offer each startup a customised, high-touch experience based on the unique needs and skills of each founding team. Our portfolio of over 2,200 startups have raised more than $10 billion in funding. 84% of these startups are still active or have been acquired. Techstars can materially improve the odds of your startup's success. You can learn more about the benefits of our accelerators here.
Our accelerator is a three-month programme that will operate out of Amsterdam and start in the spring of 2021. For its first year, the program is likely to operate in a remote (virtual) format, depending upon COVID-19 conditions. But, local health, safety and travel guidelines permitting, we will welcome the option to switch all or part of the programme to an in-person format.
Like all Techstars’ accelerators, the anchor of our programme is “mentor madness”. Selected startups will have the opportunity to engage with dozens of Europe’s top fintech mentors who will advise on business models, go-to-market strategies, technology, pricing, scaling up, IP, and fundraising. Many of our mentors go on to become angel investors and advisory board members of the startups they advise.
During the programme we will host masterclasses led by experts on practical subjects including term sheets, marketing, sales, branding, legal, and tech, and also run curated sessions for founders’ stories. You will meet founders from some of the fastest growing fintech companies and the leading VCs in the sector.
Our programme culminates with a Demo Day showcase where participating companies will perfect their company pitch and engage with investors, clients, media and other members of the ecosystem.
Every startup that joins our programme is offered the same terms: we invest $20,000 in each company, and offer an optional $100,000 convertible note. In return for joining the programme and access to the Techstars network for life, we take 6% ordinary stock in each company. Techstars is the only accelerator programme that offers an equity back guarantee in the case you are not satisfied with our programme.
If you are excited by our fintech programme, we look forward to interacting with you. Starting early October we will be hosting virtual activities in different cities across the world. Please check this page periodically for our updated Meet & Greet schedule, and keep an eye out for our 1:1 virtual Office Hours booking schedule here.
Or, if you’re ready, apply now!