In the throes of Fintech week at the end of last month, I helped originate and organise a Lloyds Bank Plc. hosted #WeAreFintech event, where 11 brave companies volunteered a one-minute pitch on why they thought that we would be amazed by their progress (in a few years’ time).
The ensuing debate created by the pitches ranged from inflamed valuations, to how ICOs are disrupting the fintech space, on to verticals to watch – with particular interest in AI and Crypto.
It is difficult not to be consumed by the myth of Unicorns in the start-up ecosystem. Businesses throughout the scaleup landscape, even when they appear to be potential unicorns, leave investors sceptical and often, those same investors, so eager to find a unicorn, do not believe the ones presented to them will exist for long and they certainly remain, shall we say, sceptical about their valuations!
But who doesn’t love to dream, especially when extant Unicorns like Uber, WeWork (famously referred to as the biggest short in history by one fund manager who hoped it would go public for that very reason), SpaceX, Robinhood, Magic Leap, Deliveroo, Reddit, Quora and Revolut show the way to the club! A fuller list of hailed Unicorns and their valuations with dates can be found on Wiki here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unicorn_startup_companies
Amongst our driven one-minute pitchers some that stood out to me personally were:
Gibran Registe-Charles, ex-Goldman Sachs, (who has also been influenced by the Fintech for Good ethos) is creating a ‘Wealthify’ style platform, called Capratio, designed to assist the under-represented and low income/average earners within the UK, in part, by teaching them how to save and invest for their pensions.
James Flavin is hoping to keep your attention with KiteEdge for the Asset Managers among us. KiteEdge takes Wealthtech to different level using cognitive ontology to interact with the end user. Find the briefest of introductions to cognitive ontology here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_ontology
Glint also caught my eye, with Jason Cozens at the helm of this app – he is helping users buy anything with a Mastercard – part of the difference is that they use their own gold bullion/coin resources to underpin their purchases. The bullion can of course be stored anywhere in the world. Perfect for those of us who are disciplined enough to diversify our portfolios and take advantage of mid-term market volatility.
A quick mention for the rest of the pitchers! Trezeo, Loqbox, Photocert, Veblen, Coriunder, Coinypay, Reputation Transfer and Bigcrowd.
The panel had a mix of talents with a broad spread of viewpoints from the world of Fintech:
@Eddie George (not the former Governor of the BoE) who Runs New Finance, the largest fintech meetup in the world in over 15 countries. @Steve Plant who has an FX market challenger platform, WhichFX. @Toby Unwin whose company Premonition.ai valued at 100M, might itself be thought of as a nascent Unicorn. Glints CEO, @Jason Cozens, and @Arifa Khan who runs Himalayalabs, which is launching an investment platform called Himalaya Capital Exchange.
London is a dynamic city, I feel excited about the prospect of future Unicorns forged from within its creative and commercial furnace coming into our lives.