Posted by & filed under General, Global Fintech Accelerator, Technology, workshop.

We live in an odd reality these days. COVID-19 is keeping the vast majority of the world inside. Most organizations are compelled to work online when they can. I think I’ve never had such a significant number of discussions about remote online work (and I’ve had a few)!

I’m constantly frustrated when individuals simply surrender and acknowledge online versions of things as a compromise, as a way of getting only part of the value. But I understand them. Majority of the online events are just long and disappointing streams of video, with poor facilitation and even poorer interaction.

So, what’s the solution?

The key factor according to us is to rethink the concept based on the value you want to get. We think the key is to rethink the concept based on the value you want to get. We recently agreed with Distrito Digital / SPTCV to transform the First Bootcamp of the Blockchain and Fintech Accelerator (planned for the end of March and postponed) into online activities.

When we started the discussions to transform it online, we realized that there are three significant values that stakeholders would get from the event:

  • Get to know intriguing innovation opportunities from startups and financial institutions, a.k.a. “the show”. The main group getting that value would be the local ecosystem, who would attend the opening and closing events, or would follow through social media.
  • Negotiate potential collaboration projects. The main group getting that value would be the financial institutions and startups.
  • Find and engage additional stakeholders – investors, media, and so on in an interactive environment. This benefit applies to all: startups, financial institutions, participants, etc. With that in mind, we decided that to get the value of the bootcamp, we would need three types of activities.

It’s all about business

The biggest value of any good startup activity is the business you end up getting from it. The startups that we engaged for the bootcamp were anticipating meeting their counterparts in the financial institutions. The participants from financial institutions were keen on meeting interesting startups that might bring a good business case to them.

Putting people together on a stage does nothing in that direction.

So instead of that, we have transformed the workshop part of the event – which was intended for these stakeholders – into a series of collaboration days, in which the startups discuss with the financial institutions the case of working together. We are at present running these collaboration days with our partner financial institutions, and of course with the startups. We also support both sides in defining the business case together and support in making the collaboration work.

It’s all about people

The second thing that we thought was about the real value of attending an event. Events area social phenomenon. You go there because you get to engage with other individuals. You go there because you might meet somebody interesting over coffee. We participate in events because it’s a stimulating activity, because of the people involved – most of the time, other participants.

In contrast, many people think of webinars as videos that they can watch live… or watch later. While that has value (see the next point), it’s only a fraction of the value. And because of that, in our event, we plan networking and interactive activities so that participants can have a more stimulating experience than just collective video watching.

It’s all about the show

I’ve intentionally left the actual online video stream for last for perspective. After all that I’ve written, you’d be excused for thinking that I dislike this part. But you’d be wrong, I strongly believe in the value of video connection.

But we have to treat it with as much care as we treat a live show.

In a physical event, you have a master of ceremonies, you have a strict timing, and someone has thought of what ought to happen each second. There’s a technician taking care of sound and lights. There are numerous details that we take care of.

And we do the same in online events. It’s not a glorified online meeting, in which the facilitator somehow is supposed to act as a technician, people jump in to start sharing their screen, and discussions are a back and forth without paying too much attention to the flow of the event.

We’ve been doing online activities for quite a while. In our Nordea program, we connected online the Stockholm and Helsinki sites, to create a connection between the startups in each location. In our accelerator with OTP Bank, we streamed some of the sessions. We have run several workshops already since the break of COVID19, with good results.

When you have the same attitude of professionalism towards online as you have towards physical events, the final event engages the audience much more.

Where can I see this?

You might be thinking: “big talk, where can I see this?”. If you’re reading this before June 12th 2020, it’s your lucky day: we’ll be having the Virtual Bootcamp on that date, between 9:00 and 12:30 CET! You’ll get to attend our online event – that we’ve put much care into – and interact with other participants!

As for the collaboration days… if you’re working in a financial institution, or in a startup, by all means, get in touch, and let’s see how we can get you to go 10 times faster!

And if you’re reading this after June 12th, greetings future-ling, check out our homepage to see what the next hot events are!

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, Banking, Fintech, General.

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