The tables have turned: VC Pitches @ Money Talks #IFweek

Big turnout today at the Innovate Finance event at Level39, where entrepreneurs, FinTech enthusiasts, interested parties have come to see who and why is channeling money into finance innovation projects.

Of all the intros, I found Gerard Grech’s (Tech City UK) to be the most noteworthy, with him presenting the UK VC funding landscape: 20x increase since 2010, high growth segment on AIM.LSE, 42% of EU unicorns are in the UK, two 500 million + exits – Deepmind, Naturalmotion Games – to Google & Zynga. And that the Future Fifty program raised 22 rounds and 675 million in 16 months. Pretty impressive achievements given its relative short lifespan.

5 minute VC pitches

After the intro sessions, we moved on to the 5 minute pitch sessions by VC representatives, which was sort of a ‘turn the tables on the investors’ endeavor. The organizers made it very difficult for them by keeping a strict time check with personalized (and somewhat ridiculous) music that was turned on at the end of each pitch. Many entrepreneurs who participated in pitch events were happy to see their judges going through the same things as they did. Long story short, here’s a summary of what I deemed worthy of mentioning from each of the pitches:

Zach Tan at InfoComm (State-run Singapore initiative)

  • He’s here to promote the opportunities in SE Asia – middle class (consumer class) growth and wealth expansion
  • They are privatizing former public sector legacy service and infrastructure providers & expanding the e-commerce sector
  • UK has a natural mind-set advantage in SE Asia, thinking beyond the homeland
  • “American companies are like aircraft carriers, EU start-ups are like speedboats”, the waters may not be suitable for the first ones

Nicolas Sharp at Passion Capital (early stage tech VC)

  • Announced a 45 million fund, strategy similar with the first fund – small seed investments (invested 124 million in 42 companies at a valuation of over 400 million)
  • Invested in 10 companies last year out of 3000 they see
  • They claim to treat people really well and want to help
  • All numbers are public, the term sheet is one page plain English and used in 5 MBA classes

Michael Treskow at Accel Partners

  • 300+ investments, 30+ years’ experience
  • Invested all over the world (25 countries)
  • They focus on increasing the percentage of NON-US companies in the fin-tech sector

Mariano Belinky at Santander InnoVentures

  • They released a Fintech 2.0 paper with some key trends:
    • Smart data
    • Friction-less processes
    • Internet of Things in banking
    • Distributed Ledger (blockchain)
  • Entrepreneurs shouldn’t struggle with compliance and ma banking quirks
  • Santander’s OpenBank – .8 million customers, 5.5 billion in balance

Rob Moffat at Balderton Capital

  • YOOX and Betfair IPOs
  • European focused VC
  • Former Goldman Sachs and Google employees, a couple of entrepreneurs
  • Invested 4 million in Crowdcube

After all the pitches were over, we witnessed a feedback committee Q&A, withBill Simmons at Crowdcube – CFO, Nezahat Gultekin at Atlantic Bridge Capital (Senior adviser), Russ Shaw at Tech London Advocates (Founder), Louise Beaumont at GLI Finance (PA and Marketing), Alain Falys at Yoyo Wallet (Founder). This was a bit less structured and the VCs received further grilling from the Q&A guests. Again, I captured what I deemed worthy to remember.

  • VCs don’t see themselves as in competition, but in collaboration especially at early stage – seed / series A. More competition can be found at series B or larger rounds, when your graph goes hockey stick.
  • The entrepreneur needs to do the work, the VC needs to be the part time psychologist, mentor and financial stake provider, you want to partner with someone that has been in your field
  • The Chairperson that manages board relationships is crucial so that entrepreneurs can work together with investors
  • Risk & how VCs manage it: is this team right for now, 1 year time and 5 years’ time, cofounders and why they have chosen them, credibility of the founders
  • Metrics are crucial for Series B, preIPO stage
  • Check for the first questions that VCs ask, check for the personality fit, investment strategy, follow-up rounds, business understanding
  • Entrepreneurs need to ask more questions, grill the VCs more
  • Don’t build growth on high CPAs, but on technology investment focus and competitive CPAs to drive growth

Last but not least, what is an industry event without some predictions? Here’s a take at the opportunity in FinTech from the VC representatives:

  • Asia – payment, block chain
  • “Plumbing” – SaaS, IaaS – allow other companies to build on what you build
  • Frictionless data, IoT banking, Smart data (yes, that’s Santander)
  • Selling to financial institutions themselves
  • Insurance
Be Sociable, Share!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *