Marc P. Bernegger: What Makes Fintechs Successful?by Marc P. Bernegger August 9, 2016
You cannot ignore it: Fintech is a boom. According to Fintech News Switzerland, there are 185 digital finance firms in the Swiss market. As a contrast, our neighbor German has more than twice as many shown by a study by Barkow Consulting last year.
Meanwhile, even more Fintechs should be in the market. The support for the industry is evident through the 300 million Euros investments in German Fintechs.
Yet the first Fintechs are already dying. The online payment service Paymill and the payment Fintechs Yapital and Click-and-buy are only a few examples for the Fintech flops that shake the acclaimed industry.
I myself co-founded two internet companies, the nightlife-website usgang.ch and amiando, an eventmanagement tool. Both now belong to large corporations – usgang.ch to Axel Springer and amiando to Xing. Since 2010, I have had the opportunity to be close to many Fintech investments in both Switzerland and Germany.
Again and again the question arises: What makes a fintech successful?
In my opinion: a company builder. I am saying this from the perspective of both a former founder and investor. Instead of supporting a startup through risk capital only and hoping for the unsurpassable high flyer, a company builder is engaged intensively in each venture.
There lies the important difference: a company builder is not an accelerator in which companies undergo a coaching period. It is also not an incubator that aims to grow companies which leave the nest.
A company builder analyses the market, searches for gaps in digital offerings, and develops solutions. The implementation of the solutions is only possible with the right founder. This has nothing to do with the “on-our-way-home-in-the-train-we-had-a-great-idea” founder romance, but it concentrates on a work-related promising ideology. FinLeap, a Berlin-based Fintech company builder, where I am a member of the advisory board, proceeds in that manner.
With more than 700 applicants every month, a huge number of potential employees approach FinLeap. Since its founding almost two year ago, FinLeap employees 250 employees from more than 30 nations and has successfully founded nine ventures with the next projects already in the pipeline. All of them grow, found cooperations between them, win over banks as customers – or operate with a full banking license themselves, like solarisBank.
It is an amazing experience for me as a FinLeap companion to not only have a focus on one project, but to be parallelly involved in many exciting business models at once. As a result, we often see synergies and cooperations between the ventures. For the founders, the advantages are clear: Instead of being occupied with salary statements, legal issues or marketing, they can fully concentrate on the core business- with a seed funding between 0.5 and 5 million as a basis.
The majority of founders at FinLeap are not just-graduated students, but are carefully chosen industry experts. One of FinLeap’s ventures Savedo, a marketplace for fixed term deposits in Europe, is the perfect example. Its co-founder Christian Tiessen has already successfully co-founded the online design shop cascandra, and later on fab.de, leading them up to the exit. Christopher Oster, managing director of online-insurance broker Clark, co-founded the platform for holiday apartments Wimdu and additionally possesses many years of experience in strategy consulting for the Boston Consulting Group.
These represent only two examples of the many present at FinLeap.
So to answer the question: Expertise and passionate entrepreneurship make a Fintech idea successful, but a company builder can contribute on many levels.