In mid-April I had the pleasure of attending the Canadian Fintech BDC 2.0 Summit in Toronto — a two day event showcasing the most innovative Fintech solutions Canada has to offer. The event invited 48 of the best startups from across the country to pitch their Fintech business ideas, competing for the $100,000 investment prize. If one conclusion could be drawn from the Summit, it’s that Fintech in Canada is booming. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
With a swarm of talent coming from Montreal, it was great to see some of the brightest minds in Fintech showcase their ideas on the big stage to industry professionals. The incorporation of the reverse pitch battle, in which four global financial institutions had 10 minutes to convince startups to partner with them, was an interesting addition too. It was a testament to the fact that Fintech is penetrating the inner workings of the banking system; its providing technology solutions to the problems banks didn’t even know they had.
Last week, we attended FormFintech’s first #Ascension Cohort 2018 Demo-Day – another amazing group of dynamic and innovative leaders. What has been remarkable is the support network that these Fintech groups have at their disposal. The Angels, institutions and the AI labs and researchers that are now becoming part of the Fintech community is something to really marvel at. This point was further solidified by the announcement of the Holt Fintech Accelerator.
Having said that, while the technology and the ideas being presented were in and of themselves brilliant, there is a notable lack of discussion on how these products were really going to get any notoriety in a competitive business landscape. Out of 48 pitches in Toronto, the question surrounding customer acquisition strategy reared its head just 3 times! Indeed there appears to be a gap between development growth and market growth for the majority of these startups. No one was talking about their marketing campaigns, their sales decks or their content strategies. Yet they should be. The greatest Fintech idea in the world still needs an audience and customers to make it a success. If no one is aware your business or product exists, you’re setting yourself up for a long uphill battle before you’ve even got off the ground.
Another potential grey area for me also appeared to be the identity of some of the businesses within the Fintech industry as a whole. Many of the products and ideas that were pitched could very well be functional, and highly successful, outside the realm of financial services — the retail sector being a prime example. Ideas can change, adapt and grow, and solutions can be carried over and applied to different industries. Rather than remaining strictly under the umbrella of ‘Fintech,’ perhaps we should be encouraging the cross-industry potential of many of these Fintech businesses in order to widen the growth opportunities, or medium-term play.
Both nights were a real confirmation that this industry is riding an exciting wave of opportunity and expansion. Final thoughts from a marketer’s perspective? If you’re a young Fintech getting started and reading this, get your name out there!
- Brand awareness will be as important as product development: set aside time for your marketing efforts.
- Build your network of connections: find out events, meetups, go everywhere and meet everyone.
- Produce and distribute content, be active on every social platform you can think of: build a network of freelance copywriters and start your content game.
- Go for lunch (and learn), ask for advice, seek out mentors – make it a point to have at least one meetup a week with someone who can help you better understand what you can be doing to grow your brand.
And do it all without paying for it.