Fintech innovation lab (PFNYC)

Fintech innovation lab

There’s a ton of startup advice out here — the revered Paul Graham essays, Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology, and Hacker News community discussions, among many others. But it’s not universal, and leaves certain founders with too little guidance.

As early stage startup founders & executives, we’re told to “move fast and break things”, to “ask for forgiveness, not for permission”, to be highly capital efficient and not dilute ourselves too much, and to get an MVP (read: crappy first pass at a product) out there quickly, all while doing our best growth hacking and generating as much hype as possible.

These mantras are solid advice for many startups, but are a tall order for any founder, let alone a fintech founder. Fintech, and specifically fintechs serving or partnering with financial institutions, is simply different from other tech verticals. Getting a product live is no small feat, and frequently involves tackling things like a SOC2 data security audit and serious capitalization (friends & family rounds won’t cut it!).

In other words, there’s not a whole lot of startup advice out there for you. You’ll find yourself with a product you’ve poured your heart & soul (and your waking hours/savings) into, with banks telling you they can’t be your first customer because you haven’t demonstrated a similar use case before that’s been audited by the FDIC, or because you haven’t previously deployed on-prem, or because you only have $500K in the bank and they’re afraid you’re about to run out of business. And that’s only if you’re able to get a bank to talk to you.

In comes the Fintech Innovation Lab. Cofounded by Partnership Fund for NYC and Accenture, and designed to help startups navigate big financial institutions and vice versa, they’re the matchmaker who helps us founders cross cultural, hierarchical, and technological barriers. Their selection process includes their bank partners deciding which startups they’d most like to work with or find most relevant to their business & challenges, so as a startup you immediately know you won’t be spinning your wheels. Moreover, the mentors help you find your champions, and help you understand the bank’s needs and processes so you no longer feel like you’re speaking different languages and living on different planets.

For Alloy, we were able to get into larger financial institutions, and truly start to be taken seriously, with PFNYC’s help and guidance. Time will tell what the ROI is, but so far, even the level of conversations we’re having with these banks has helped us raise money and gain credibility in the market.

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