Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Global Fintech Accelerator, Human Resources, Startups, Team.

What makes a good startup? How can you see which ones have potential?

As a talent scout and having lead global recruitment team in the past, I see a lot of similarities between talent acquisition and startup search. Here are some insights from behind the scenes of our latest project’s selection phase where our team screened over 3000 startups based on the needs of Bankia, BBVA, Sanitas, Santander and Sparklab of Nationale Nederlanden among others.

Understanding the business needs

Both in recruitment and in startup scouting, it all starts from understanding the business needs. What solutions are the financial institutions looking for right now? What strategy is behind those needs and why is that important for them? And the question everyone is asking today – how will the world look different after Covid-19 pandemic?

The better you understand what your partners need and what kind of technical solutions could answer that, the better the results.

For the latest bootcamp, we had a wide variety of different themes in scope: the banks and insurance companies were looking for practical applications of blockchain, traceability, smart contracts, trade finance and tokenization of assets.

On the other hand, big themes were also financial wellbeing and education, accessibility and preventive health care solutions for insurance and healthcare companies.

New approaches to security and fraud prevention continue being hot topics. And my inner HR was happy to see the rising interest in innovative B2B2E benefits and solutions for the employees. Also, while the covid-19 impacts the whole world, supporting the clients in this changing situation and beyond has become an additional priority.

Photo: Pictureo

Finding the matches from millions

After having a clear direction, it’s a mix of creativity and hard work. Finding the best matches means – not only marketing and promotion – but also hunting the best finsurtech startups around the world for each theme. In practice this means advanced searching, testing variations of keywords, going through thousands of web pages, identifying potential, analyzing the solutions.

Industry knowledge, partners, wide networks and data crunching super search tools are a must. Not forgetting looots of coffee to keep the engines running!

Identifying the high potential

For the last bootcamp we contacted over 1500 potential startups and received over 400 applications from over 60 different countries. During 2020 we’ve so far had 5 online pitching days, with dozens of startups.

The selection is done carefully. The criteria that we use in the assessment phase is not only related to the pitching of the technical solution, scalability and past performance. It’s about the whole team.

In HR terms we talk about identifying high potential (HiPo) talent: SHL’s and Gartner’s research and the traditional SHL Model of High-Potential talks about aspiration, ability and engagement. Harward Business review refers also to the importance of a positive drive.

What we look is: does this group of individuals have the mindset, solution and skills that are needed for being successful to work with us and our partners? Besides top-notch business ideas and technical expertise, a good balance of emotional and social skills is important. Learning agility, problem solution and negotiation skills are highly valued in collaboration and future partnerships.

Also, the roles and dynamics of the team members are important. What kind of expertise does the team have? Which areas do they need to strengthen?

Towards collaboration

After introducing the best startups to our partners and initiating the collaborations starts the real journey – the part that often causes most challenges in startup collaboration. Bureaucratic regulations, long decision-making processes and different cultures and ways of working might cause grey hair at the beginning for both the financial institutions and the startups.

Just like onboarding new team members, this is the critical part and there should be a good plan and resources for both sides for working together.

With an inspirational accelerator program and coaching, we can help in this making businesses grow and collaboration prosper. As long as there’s curiosity and desire to learn from each other and motivation towards common goals, we are on the right path.


What else do you value in collaboration? What solutions are important for you right now? I’d be glad to share thoughts with you – let’s connect in LinkedIn in/virpijalonen or you can find me from Telegram as Viivinen.

Virpi

HR at heart – with an entrepreneurial soul :)

Posted by & filed under General.

It takes creative leaders with strong opinions and human touch to change the world. We are fortunate for having a brilliant mentor network full of people like that. Today we’ll share thoughts about digitalization from one of our new mentors, Rudolf Vogl.

Most of our programs are part of some form of digital transformation program. And those programs require a mindset change from many people. It’s easy to change paper forms into online forms. But that misses the point of digitalization. Rudolf has a brilliant take on this – a digital transformation that is never done, never enough, and in which we’re constantly exploring new opportunities is now more important than ever with the global situation we live in.

Are you thinking digital? 

In the world of start-ups and fintechs everybody wholeheartedly would say: YES! In the world of the “old economy” – banks, production industry – senior leaders would say: Of course!

I believe both are wrong! 

Thinking digital is not what you have by nature because you are under 30. You also don’t have it because the board decided: We must become digital!

Thinking digital is a mindset developing, evolving, changing. For many years I served as senior HR leader in the banking industry. During that time, I experienced the power of corporate processes. I lived through an amount of transformation activities under the label of “digitization”. I want to prove that thinking digital is neither a matter of age nor technology.

“Thinking digital is a mindset developing, evolving, changing.“

Rudolf Vogl

It is about how we manage the increasing amount of data and latest technology with our body and brain. The current version of the latter is about 100.000 years old!

Thus, in the core of digital thinking must be the human aspect.

What does this mean for start-ups? Their new products have to provide customers (=humans) with better outcomes or more meaningful experience. Like with many other – physical – products on the market, not every new app is a real advancement in customer experience. 

In classical corporates the same applies. The meaningful experience for demanding customers should be in focus. Yet, traditional product development is driven by cost constraints. “Ordered” innovation cannot deliver or cannot deliver in time.

“The meaningful experience for demanding customers should be in focus. 

Yet, traditional product development is driven by cost constraints.”

Rudofl Vogl

Surviving in the digital age means developing a dual strategy:

  1. Building up digital competence with leaders in the organisation – a longer term effort but a must
  2. Creating new ways of cooperation with small units as the chance.

All companies must launch their successful products in the digital world. In the cooperation of big and small units it’s about immersion into the other’s world. This only happens via human relations, the bridge both sides must cross.

I love to help building those bridges and digital competencies wherever needed. 

Rudolf Vogl, Smartbird

About the writer

I have spent my professional live in public service and then in three different types of industries. The last 15 years I was heading the corporate HR function for a big bank. Now with “smartbird” – still in formation – I have started my journey into the digital age. As a “baby boomer” I want to proof that a digital mindset is not matter of age. And with repositioning soft skills into power skills I want to develop managers and organisations for future and return and beyond.


Rudolf Vogl, Smartbird
& Nestholma Mentor

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Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Global Fintech Accelerator, Press release, Programs.

Press release, Alicante, January 17, 2020

Digital District makes a firm commitment to the Fintech sector with the organization of the I Bootcamp Blockchain & Fintech Accelerator @ Alicante

Valencian Community’s Digital District will organize the first Bootcamp Blockchain & Fintech Accelerator in Alicante, which will take place from March 23 to 25 in the premises of Digital District with the participation of the main national and international finsurtech startups and multiple banks and insurance companies.

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Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Fintech, General.

It’s amazing how much the financial industries have evolved. The way we transact business has never been smoother.

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