Preface: We talk to Nektarios Liolios, Co-founder and Global MD of Startup Bootcamp — an accelerator program giving startups them access to an international network of the most relevant partners, investors and mentors in their sector. As a strong proponent of FinTech, Nektarios demystifies the common misconceptions that FinTech outsiders have, highlights the necessity of interdependence between banks and startups and pinpoints the key places where FinTech startups fail.
What is important to you about FinTech?
There are three things that are important to me about FinTech. Firstly, growing and nurturing an ecosystem. Secondly, connecting two worlds that usually don’t know how to talk to each other: established banks and the startups. Finally, opening doors to the right people in the financial services industry for the startups.
Why is it difficult to predict ‘rising stars?’
The financial industry is a complex industry, heavily regulated, with lots of gatekeepers. It is really hard for a startup to make it and it takes a long time. It is not easy to compare it with the commerce or media world where you put something up on an App Store and the next day it sells by the millions.
How has the explosion in FinTech startups changed the landscape for newcomers to the scene?
Generally, entrepreneurs are better prepared. They understand they have to be in this for the long run, they recognise they have to be regulated and, most importantly, they acknowledge the value of partnering with the incumbents.
What does London need to do better in order to help more FinTech startups thrive?
London is actually doing pretty well, regulators are pretty cooperative, there is a vibrant funding scene at angel level and the industry has a lot of appetite for newcomers.
What has surprised you about the teams that have come into the Startup Bootcamp programme?
We seem to attract startups that are later-stage than your typical accelerator teams. Entrepreneurs come to us are not primarily looking for funding, but for new business and as a space for them to test their product.
How is Startup Bootcamp unique to any other accelerator?
Our vision is global – we recruit globally and we give our alumni access to our network of investors and partners across the globe.
All SBC programs are funded by a group of industry players looking for innovation. They come with an innovation appetite and capability.
Where do you see teams fail, specifically in the FinTech space?
At the core, not many startups new to the industry understand the market they are tackling well enough. In particular, they are often not fully aware of the regulatory landscape and they underestimate the amount of funding that they require to survive the long sales process.
What is in Startup Bootcamp’s future?
At Startup Bootcamp, our mission is to build FinTech programmes in the markets around the world where FinTech matters the most, growing the network of programmes. We also look towards offering something of value to startups that are not at accelerator stage.
What are some common misconceptions that outsiders have about financial technology?
It’s all about payments and lending. It’s all consumer facing. And the popular, FinTech startups want to get rid of banks.
What is your opinion on the best way for FinTech startups and established banks to relate? For example: is it their job to bring the banks down? Is it better for them to work together and be interdependent?
Let’s be realistic, all the FinTech success stories so far are tackling areas the banks don’t care much about (forex, lending, etc). Despite all the talk about disruption, in reality startups create new value and this can be done by working with the established players.
What can Fintech startups do to cultivate a better relationship with existing banks?
Recognise that banks are different animals and articulate their value proposition to the banks in way the banks understand it.