What are some of the traits you look for in FinTech startups applying to Venture Hive?
Venture Hive is an entrepreneur education company. In our accelerators, incubators and other programs, our focus is on developing individuals and enabling founders to build enduring, sustainable businesses that will scale successfully.
We look for teams that are smart, committed, fired up, and tech-savvy; teams that show deep expertise in their chosen fields. The most successful entrepreneurs are usually those who are obsessively focused on the customer, yet open-minded enough to appreciate the value of engaging with others to keep testing and iterating their solutions.
As far as the business itself, we prefer companies that are beyond the MVP stage, are driven by innovation, and seek to be 10x better than incumbents rather than just 10% better.
Why do you think Financial Institutions have such a hard time innovating?
Innovation is a messy business! It’s a concept everyone loves to discuss, yet few are able to capture it in a way they can leverage for significant breakthrough and lasting impact.
Financial institutions aren’t the only ones who have a hard time innovating. The industry is relatively mature, and despite all the discussions to the contrary, it that has gone through massive transformation over the last 2 decades: Just think about online banking, e-brokerage, ATM’s, mobile banking, customized services, all enabled by massive advances in IT and business process enhancements.
When you run a well-established brand with millions of customers and Billion-Dollar portfolios at stake in any industry, risk avoidance, incentive systems, compliance concerns and short term-performance pressures can make it extremely hard to step outside the box, carve out dedicated resources and cannibalize your current profit-makers.
That’s how we see innovation shifting towards start-ups and young companies who are unencumbered by those constraints and can challenge the status quo by launching new business models in less regulated, highly specialized segments of the industry.
In advising a Financial Company on how to build a culture of innovation, what is the first thing they need to do and what is the most important ingredient for success?
Culture is the operating word and it all starts at the top. Leadership has to walk the talk by creating an environment that rewards experimentation and risk taking, where associates don’t hold back innovative ideas because they fear the stigma of failure, and where their ideas actually have a path to implementation rather than oblivion.