Last week it was a new European Edtech accelerator pitching for startups. Today a new fintech incubator has been announced, by pan-European accelerator Startupbootcamp, which will be based in London, a stone’s throw from the City’s Square Mile financial district.
The three-month programme — which is accepting applications from startup anywhere in the world for its first intake, due to kick off in August — is backed by a roster of corporations, including financial services groups Lloyds and Rabobank, and payment giant MasterCard.
That big brand backing is what makes this FinTech bootcamp different from all the others, argues Startupbootcamp (itself just fresh from opening up a branch of its bootcamp in Istanbul).
Other fintech bootcamps like the Techstars-Barclays tie-up announced back in December, also located in London. Or London’s FinTech Innovation Lab, launched back in 2012. The U.K. capital’s status as a global financial hub is evidently translating into being a hub for fintech startups and fintech startup bootcamps too.
“We stand out by being the first true accelerator program backed by multiple brands,” says Startupbootcamp of its new fintech incubator. “These are well-established financial services companies whose main goal is to find exciting and relevant companies and to help them succeed.”
What are these big name partners providing exactly? A number of things — from expert advice, to “a reality-check for the startups”, to an opportunity to act as pilot customers, to access to data and APIs. And — potentially — follow-on investment, too.
From the banking establishment point of view, the logic can be summed up thus: ‘if you’re at risk of being disrupted by them, buy into them’.
“Hopefully, we will see more than 50% of the startups taking on the partners as customers and/or investors after the program, as we have seen in other Startupbootcamp program. It’s not always easy for startups and big brands to engage, but we have learned how to manage it and in the best cases this can be a highway to scale for the startups,” the incubator adds.
The number of big brands involved… is a reflection of the growing need to engage with the startup community
Startupbootcamp also flags up the difference between its own accelerator brand and modus operandi and other European incubators as a factor that sets its fintech offering apart from others in the region. Namely, its focus on a slightly later stage that a lot of rival incubators.
“While there are clearly a growing number of FinTech accelerators and startups across Europe, Startupbootcamp tends to attract slightly later stage startups and have a higher focus on generating real revenue and building growth companies,” it says. “This is different to other program’s that tend to be more focussed on graduates and product development. Or those who call themselves accelerators but in reality are more of a shared office space.”
Another differentiator for Startupbootcamp Fintech, as the new kid on the financial services startup block is called, is that it’s run by entrepreneurs, argues Startupbootcamp — setting it apart from corporate fintech incubator programs which may lack crucial startup experience.
“The team running Startupbootcamp Fintech have themselves founded more than 20 startups, made five exits and raised tens of millions in funding,” it tells TechCrunch.
Startupbootcamp Fintech is led by Managing Director Nektarios Liolios, former Innovation Leader at Innotribe, SWIFT, who brings in more than 15 years’ experience in the financial industry. Nektarios is joined by Chief Operating Officer Markus Gnirck, a serial entrepreneur with focus on early-stage startups, and Chairman Carsten Kølbek, a seed investor and the founder of Startupbootcamp.
The 10 startup teams that get selected for the program will each get €15,000 in cash to see them through the program period, plus free office space at London’s Rainmaking Loft, a 10,000ft² startup hub in St. Katharine Docks, next to Tower Bridge. Also included: mentorship from 100+ entrepreneurs, investors and corporate partners affiliated with the program. And legal advice from law firm, MJ Hudson, and public relations advice from Clarity PR.
Startupbootcamp takes 8% equity for this investment of money and mentoring.
“Right from the outset, we were determined that Startupbootcamp FinTech should focus its efforts on developing earlier stage companies, providing them with support from a broad range of financial organisations,” said Liolios in a statement. “We want to nurture talent, great ideas and innovation, and for us that also meant involving as much of the financial community as possible. That’s why our mentors, investors and partners are made up of individuals from right across the financial services spectrum.”
Are the partners that this latest fintech accelerator has been able to attract a sign that established banking and payments brands are (finally) waking up to potential of startup disruption?
“We increasingly see an awareness among the big brands to engage with startups,” says Startupbootcamp. “The number of big brands involved in the Startupbootcamp FinTech program is a reflection of the growing need to engage with the startup community.
“And they need a platform to do that. This is where Startupbootcamp comes in — offering a complete solution for engaging with startups, sourcing new technology and deal flow, and working with open innovation.”
Commenting on Lloyds’ involvement in the accelerator in a statement, Alessandro Hatami, Director of Digital Payments and Innovation at the bank, said: “Through this partnership, we hope to help smaller fintech businesses get access to the expertise and funding they need in order to grow. We will work with Startupbootcamp to advise startups on how to become more effective in working with large financial institutions, especially by providing insight on customers’ needs and expectations.”
Harrie Vollaard, Innovation Director at Rabobank, added in another supporting statement: “The landscape within the banking industry is changing. We see that the FinTech industry is going to have an increasingly greater impact. With this partnership we have the opportunity to participate actively. It’s an excellent way to collaborate and build up best practices and knowledge together with startups.”
Although Startupbootcamp FinTech doesn’t start for several months, the incubator will be running a global innovation program, — aimed at nurturing talent, ideas and developing earlier stage FinTech startups. This program will comprise a range of events taking place in FinTech hotspots across the world, including New York, Singapore and Shanghai — which will include FinTech hackathons, networking events for later stage startups to rub elbows with FS execs, and worldwide pitch days where startup communities around the world will be invited to pitch in front of Startupbootcamp FinTech experts.
At the end of the bootcamp itself, the 10 teams will pitch during a Demo Day that will be attended by several hundred investors, plus the mentors and other “key players” in the startup scene, says Startupbootcamp.