StartupBootcamp: A global school

Next week, StartupBootcamp will organize two Fintech Fast track events in Mexico DF and Sao Paulo.

StartupBootcamp is a global network of industry focused startup accelerators. It started in Europe, Denmark and today it is present all around the world with 13 accelerators in 10 locations (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Istanbul, London, Singapore, Miami and New York). Their three month programs give direct access to an international network of the most relevant partners, investors and mentors in their sectors. It won the admiration of Forbes and The Economist, praising their training system for entrepreneurs and an incredible high net worth network.

The StartupBootcamp (SBC) Fintech is the world’s largest accelerator for Fintech Startups. The three month acceleration is opened to worldwide startups with programs in London, Singapore and New York. The accelerator is the first one to receive support from leaders in the financial technology. These include 15 corporate partners, as Mastercard, Banco Santander, DBS Banks, PWC, Rabbobank among others. Yesterday, it was announced Deutsche bank decided to join the partner club too.

I would like to talk about the SBC New York program, whose applications are now open.

The startups selected will receive mentorship from entrepreneurs, investors and partners worldwide and will have access to international markets. In each batch, 10 teams are selected for a three month program to work in the New York facilities and each one will receive USD 20 thousand in cash. The program is led by Jesse Podell, a passionate about Fintech, who travels around the world to “taste” the Fintech ecosystem in other cities.

“Entrepreneurs need to think global from day one”, is a common advice from mentors. Building startups that is global-ready from the beginning will put entrepreneurs in the best position to deploy world changing solutions ahead of the competition. Countries with a small market as Colombia (47 million people) or Chile (17 million people) for example are already practicing this quote when they conceive the product because they want to reach more users. Big countries, as Brazil (200 million) or Mexico (120 million) have the reflex to focus on their local market, ignoring the global potential. International investors feel more confident when they deal with a startup that can be easily adapted to any country. A startup can start small, locally, but it has to have in mind that it needs to grow internationally: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

To be close to the moon, a startup should take every opportunity to be in touch with international accelerators, investors, partners or team members. The result of the melting-pot will bring concepts and approaches that can pivot the initial product or service. International actors definitively add constructive input because they see the problem differently and hence the solution. After all, deconstruction is what makes us to think outside the box.

Therefore, when international accelerators launch programs in the US, Germany, Singapore or Chile, for example, Latin American startups need to apply. Doing the path to be selected and joining other international participants, enrich the life of the startups and train them for new benchmarks. A first advice…Go to the StartBootcamp Fintech New York and apply.

Meanwhile, you can also apply to the StartupBootcamp Fintech fast-track events that they are organizing for the next week. (StartupBootcamp Fast Track Mexico and StartupBootcamp Fast Track Sao Paulo)sao-paulo_Fintechmexico_Fintech.png

StartBootcamp will select 10 teams to perform a pitch during one day and receive feedback and mentorship from StartBootcamp NY team and known personalities from the startup local ecosystem.

This is another opportunity to gather the Fintech community in Mexico and Brazil to share experiences, woes and threats. It is also an opportunity to have a chat with the international experts to learn more about the accelerator program or to look for similar references of your product abroad. Don’t ignore the foreigner, he will definitively bring something new.

To end, shoot to the moon now!  Latin American Fintech startups can also become global references. That’s our mission.

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Nurturing Argentinean innovators

On January 4th, 2016 the Financial Times wrote an article about the switching positions between Argentina and Brazil. The two biggest economies of South America apparently are changing chairs. Argentina lives a great moment now. The new president Macri plans to revive the national economy and with that regain the trust of creditors and investors. On the other hand, Brazil is living a difficult situation with a weak economy and political scandals. The scenario is not pretty at all with an expected inflation of 11% and an expected growth of -2% for 2016. However, while some people cry, others sell handkerchiefs. With this optimism, Brazilian startups ecosystem tries to figure out the opportunities that the current economy can provide and bring innovative solutions to alleviate consumer life.

But this time, I would like to talk a bit about Argentina. After all, it is the country that currently has a huge attention from the international community.

I am pleased to know that despite a slow economy these last years, the Argentinean startup ecosystem tried to evolve. Regarding Fintech, international initiatives took place in the country with the support of local players and even the government.

On May 2015, the Finnovista Pitch Day gathered the Argentinean fintech community to present 5 startups and their disruptive services. This event allows attendants to meet investors, professionals from the financial services environment and other Fintech startups. The 5 start-ups selected to pitch this year were:

  • $ero: independent issuer of electronic money, using mobile technology (www.sero.uy)
  • Kardyt: online trading of credit cards for bank and retailers
  • Invertir.la: mobile app to invest in the Latin American Stock Exchange, increasing the access to more financial products (www.invertir.la)
  • Mondome: comparison tool of the traditional remittances methods with bitcoin transactions in order to send money abroad with the best price (www.mondome.com)
  • Motormax: platform specialized in the research of financing through internet to buy a car (www.motormax.la)

The 7th edition BBVA Open Talent 2015, gathered 652 participants with 193 Latin American entries. Among them, there was one Argentinean finalist, wayniloans. Wayniloans is the first community of loans between individuals with bitcoin technology in Latam (peer-to-peer). It gives more access to credit for the lender and increase the savings for the investors. (www.wayniloans.com)

NXTP Labs, the most active early stage tech investor in Latin America, settled in Buenos Aires, launched its first Fintech accelerator program with 12 startups selected from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay.

In the second week of December, FinTechstage Buenos Aires took place with 400 attendants and gathering personalities from the Argentinean Finance environment but also international speakers to bring together a group of financial innovators ready to debate about the challenges and opportunities of Fintech in Latin America. The conference treated several themes as blockchain, innovation in banks, acceleration of fintech startups, cibersecurity and finance inclusion. Personally, I do believe that the latter has a great potential in Latin America, considering that roughly 50% of adults (Latin America and the Caribbean) remain outside the formal financial system. Let’s remember that the unbanked population generated innovative solutions in Africa, boosting the Fintech environment and creating worldwide benchmarks. In addition to the panels and the networking sessions, the event showcased a pitch competition among the participants of the Fintech Accelerator Program run by NXTP Labs. The winners were:

  • BitCourt, from Argentina: A platform to create, notarize and digitally sign contracts between parties using the blockchain technology (www.bitcourt.com)
  • Olly, from Chile: A smart turn on / off credit card app that prevents fraud and gives you full control over your transactions (www.getolly.com)
  • Pagos de Última Milla, from Argentina: A B2B payment hub (www.flexibility.com.ar)

Several initiatives were listed in this text showing that the future of the country is very encouraging. Mariano Mayer, representative of the Argentinean Production Ministry, said at the FintechStage Buenos Aires: “we need entrepreneurs to create innovation. Argentina needs to grow; to grow it needs to change, and for that, we need you”.

I will also recognize the active participation of the local and international banks in the country. They are organizers of events, attendants, mentors, speakers, investors and partners. When all the groups work together, incredible results emerge. The Argentinean Fintech community had a nice 2015 and we are confident that 2016 will be much better…

Ricardo Linier's Cartoon

Ricardo Linier’s Cartoon

Fintech…no sorry call me “Insurtech”

The press loves to write about the complicate relationship between startups and banks and how this is changing the financial services market. But, what can we say about “Insurtech”? The Fintech movement was supposed to cover all the startups providing financial services, nevertheless the startups providing insurance services preferred to differentiate themselves and created their own label. The “Insurtech” can put the insurance market to another level where technology will define new products, play with big data and push further the customization.

In Latin America, this movement will may be slower. First of all the insurance market in Latin America is very different compared to the US or Europe. The culture of purchasing insurance policies is just starting. The last years, the middle classes in these countries have grown up developing the insurance culture and appealing international players to settle around. In 2014, the Insurance market in Latin America grew of 2.2% compared to 2013. Even if 2015 was considered as a difficult year, the insurance market should grow again.

The challenge is double:

  • Insurers need to get more clients and there is no generation exclusivity
  • It is all about technology

For example in Brazil, less than half of the insurers use technology or digital channels to sell products or provide insurance quotations.

What are the actions taken abroad to help the Insurtech to disrupt the ecosystem?

Big funds and accelerators are aware about the role of the Insurtech wave.

Sequoia Capital announced in December 2015, his investment of USD 13 million in Lemonade, a peer-to-peer personal insurance in the US. This is one of the largest seed investments in the firm’s history. If they took this risk, certainly Lemonade is creating disruption and is a company that we need to follow in the future.

Axa, one of the top worldwide insurance companies, created the incubator Kamet in order to boost technological innovations to serve insured people. They plan to invest 100 million euros on the project; the program should start on January 2016. This is another initiative to add to their Axa Labs in Silicon Valley and Shanghai and the Axa Strategic Ventures entity.  The company planned to give another step to dig in innovation and technology and contribute to the Insurtech. Axa recognizes that technology is changing the value chain of the industry and they need to act fast.

In Latin America, there is a first initiative launched by Porto Seguro, the top one insurer in Brazil. In September 2015, they inaugurated an accelerator called Oxigênio (oxygen) in a partnership with Plug and Play Tech center from the Silicon Valley. Oxigênio plan to work with 10 startups per year. The first 5 companies will start in January 2016. The first 3 months of the program will be spent in Sao Paulo and then 3 months in Silicon Valley. The companies selected will be able to do business with the companies of Porto Seguro group, to be mentored by executives from the group and active players of the technology market and to use the tools and facilities of the company. Porto Seguro plans to invest 50 thousand dollars in each startup selected.

To get more information please go to the site http://www.oxigenioaceleradora.com.br

There are few examples of insurance startups in the market but we hope that thank to these initiatives, new Insurtech startups will emerge in the Latam ecosystem.

To be a good player in this industry, remember:

  • Focus on the customer, because he is the king (what does he needs)
  • An engaged player (go with the customer all along the contract, not only at the beginning and at the end)
  • Get/Provide data and more data (insurers need data)

If you have considered these three points, your Insurtech startup is on the right path. OxigenioAceleradora