3 key takeaways from the NadiFin fintech accelerator experience
At the end of last month, I attended phase one of the NadiFin Fintech Accelerator Programme 2019, representing Gecko Governance along with my colleague Michelle McGuire, Gecko’s head of compliance. It was jointly hosted in Luxembourg at the LHoFT ( Luxembourg House of Financial Technology ) and at the ICT Spring Europe 2019 global tech conference in the European Convention Center.
Nadi-what, I hear you ask? NadiFin is a two-phase fintech accelerator, the second of which started on 10 June 2019 in Dublin. Powered by MiddleGame Ventures and Farvest in partnership with LHoFT, the programme brings together a variety of start-ups from around the world that operate in the fintech space.
A highly interactive curriculum has been developed to provide entrepreneurs with the tools needed to further scale their businesses. Ultimately, at the end of phase two, one start-up will receive a €100,000 investment from MiddleGame Ventures. But, interestingly, it’s the start-ups themselves who will decide which company takes home the investment through a peer-voting system.
For those who have yet to go through an accelerator programme, it’s a demanding but incredibly rewarding experience. Coffee in hand, we set off at 4am for the 6.15am Sunday flight to Luxembourg. No sightseeing to report on yet, folks – after finally getting settled into the hotel and going over the final draft of my presentation, it was already time for bed.
The bus from the hotel each morning got us into LHoFT for an 8am start. There’s no hanging about in the fintech world!
Upon arrival at the uber-trendy LHoFT building in downtown Luxembourg, it was time to get to know each other. We individually stood up in front of all the other start-ups and spoke about the journeys we had taken to get where we are now. Not the company’s journey, but our own personal stories. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience which helped us all become familiar with one another from the outset.
The rest of the day was spent listening to each company present their business pitches about what they do, giving product demos and working through the presented curriculum. The remaining days flowed in a similar fashion, covering various different topics including investor due diligence, customer discovery, market mapping and company financial narratives.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
One of the highlights of the week was getting the opportunity to give a two-minute Gecko pitch on the fintech stage at the ICT Spring conference.
Unaccustomed to public speaking as I am, the 300-strong crowd felt like 3,000. Taking deep breaths, I took to the stage, turned to face the crowd and the two-minute pitch was over in a split second.
I’m really looking forward to phase two of the NadiFin accelerator programme, starting next week in WeWork Labs’ Charlemont Exchange location. We learned a lot from the Luxembourg experience but some of the key takeaways were:
- Present your company with one clear vision in mind. Although your company may solve many different and equally valid use cases, try to concentrate on one main overarching theme and provide context for this vision so that your audience will understand your ‘world’.
- Present your product demo with the audience in mind. While it may feel natural to simply run through everything your product does, again try to be considerate of your audience and have the product demo relate to them. Try to visually represent the general pain point you are solving to give them context.
- You’ve got a great product that solves a real problem but how do you scale? As a start-up you may be eager and feel it is necessary to explore different business verticals and market opportunities but be careful not to spread your resources too thin. Focus on building out your robust core offering; that 70pc of functionality that the majority of your clients can use. This can then be scaled efficiently and expanded upon gradually reflecting market trends.