From startup to lift off: How these founders are navigating growthOctober 5, 2022 | By Vicki Hyman
When the pandemic reshaped our relationship with the digital world, fintechs rose to the challenge, and global investment soared to record levels, remaining robust.
But with the broader declines in the technology sector and uncertainty stemming from inflation, supply chain challenges and the war in Ukraine, investment has slowed, and a recent KPMG report says that fintech investors will be more discerning going forward, focusing more on profitability and cash flow.
So what it does it take turn an idea into an innovation and an early stage startup into a company that goes the distance?
For nearly a decade, Mastercard has been working with fintechs through its global Start Path engagement program to give them access to insights, assets and connections to help them grow, with more targeted programming for open banking and crypto startups and founders from Black and other underrepresented communities. That’s in addition to regional programs such as Start Path Empodera for female founders in Latin America and the Mastercard Lighthouse FINITIV accelerator in the Nordics.
We asked five of these founders for their thoughts on sustainable growth in the face of shifting market dynamics and ever-evolving trends and technologies:
What’s the biggest mistake a startup leader can make when embarking on the company’s growth phase?
"Fall in love with the solution and not the problem. Not being able to identify the moment in which you must change your product so that growth is real and has impact."
Dulce Frau is the co-founder and CEO of Chile-based Locales Conectados, which seeks to decentralize the economy by connecting consumers to neighborhood businesses through digital wallets that work without an app or internet and without charging commission for sales. Locales Contectados is an alumnus of Start Path Empodera.
What has been your most valuable lesson to date as a startup founder/CEO?
What is a trend in fintech that you find the most interesting?
"With digital customers becoming more digitally fatigued every day, users are becoming more picky and harder to impress. We’ve seen how multiple fintechs are innovating in simple onboarding processes and more direct communication channels. Fintechs are trying really hard to bring great experiences (i.e., personalized account manager, WhatsApp conversations for questions and marketing, videos and reels explaining their benefits, short, easy-to-understand terms and conditions, one-step logins, etc.). And they take it beyond the traditional digital channels, even going as far as doing physical enhancements to the digital experience (gift deliveries with your new credit card)."
Maite Muñiz, Truora
"I love how everyone now is truly valuing the power of community and in that of high personalization. Everything that I do is based on this principle and I love to see it more and more. People now say 'Community is the new product.'"
Beatriz Acevedo, SUMA Wealth
"The development of blockchain technology and how it will continue to evolve. After last year’s web3 hype and the disappointment that followed, especially in relation to crypto and NFT’s, there has been a general cooling of sentiment towards blockchain. The last cycle was based upon a lot of opportunistic behavior with a lot of people not really understanding what they were investing in. So it will be exciting to see how real use-cases will be developed on top of this technology, rather than just this opportunistic approach that we’ve seen in the recent past."
Raiha Buhanan, Gigapay
What technology do you think has the most potential for transforming your sector?
"I think the challenge is not in the technology itself, but in the ability of the market to make that technology reach the largest number of people, especially those who are financially excluded. Creating technology for the sake of creating it makes no sense if we don't strive put it into the hands of people and respond to their needs, particularly those who have the lower income and represent the majority of the world’s population."
Dulce Frau, Locales Conectados
"Responsible AI I think can change the world, but in fintech specifically having the ability to build a smart and highly personalized product, particularly for communities that have not trusted the financial system, can be very powerful. AI-enabled financial insights should feel like a family member is coaching you."
Beatriz Acevedo, SUMA Wealth