What happened next?
The Innotribe Startup Challenge began in 2011 at Sibos in Toronto, after recognising an increasing need to connect the start-up community with the banking industry. As a result of the Challenge, one start-up has since taken $12million in funding, with others working in partnership with major banks and developing global projects, in the US, Canada and Europe.
Designed to introduce the most promising financial technology and financial services start-ups to SWIFT’s community of more than 10,000 banking organisations globally, the 2011 Challenge saw 10 finalists selected from over 100 applicants. The finalists were flown to Toronto to present in front of an invitation-only audience of decision makers from the world’s largest financial institutions, serial entrepreneurs, investors and media.
With Sibos 2012 fast approaching, let’s take a look back at how the Innotribe Startup Challenge helped last year’s finalists to develop and become major players in the industry today.
The 2011 Challenge ‘top startup’ honour was awarded to GuardTime, whose software generates keyless signatures that provide a provable audit trail for electronic data including proof of time, origin and integrity. Mike Gault, CEO, says “Innotribe is one of the best run and most compelling start-up events with real monetary awards and great opportunities to work with SWIFT on solving real problems for the industry.” This is evident in GuardTime’s business as they have since been contacted by many different organisations, from VCs offering financing deals, new partners wishing to work with them and from financial institutions themselves.
The ‘top innovator’ honour in 2011 went to Truaxis, the founders of Statement Rewards creating transaction-based services to deliver a win-win-win scenario for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. Truaxis is continuing to use big data to transform the relationship between banks, retailers and their customers into a more positive one for all parties. Shehzad Daredia, Head of Product, commented that “the Innotribe event was extremely beneficial to business and gave us a seal of approval from some of the industry’s top critics. This industry-wide acknowledgement of our service has been immensely useful in starting discussions and building partner relationships.” They have since started multiple conversations with banks, credit unions and other companies in the banking space.
Success doesn’t end there. You don’t have to be the winner of the Innotribe Startup Challenge to receive recognition and funding, as almost all of the other finalists from Toronto have gone on to reach dizzying heights. The Challenge not only opens the door to opportunity for start-up businesses but helps to facilitate the expansion and growth of both start-ups and young innovators.
The Startup Challenge was a step that helped move Wave Accounting forward, a company that has been working to address the day-to-day challenges and workflow of small business owners and solo entrepreneurs. Kirk Simpson, CEO, said “I like to believe that some players in the banking industry began the event with no knowledge of Wave, and left knowing who we are and what we do.” Wave has since taken $12m Series B in the spring of 2012 and new features and improvements are continuously being added with Wave Payroll being rolled out in Canada in early 2012.
miiCard, whose user-centric federated identity solution serves as a digital passport, is now being recognised as a global player in the fintech community thanks to the Innotribe Startup Challenge. Stephen Brannan, Director, who pitched at Sibos in 2011, said “miiCard has had two successful funding rounds in the last year, the first £500k in September 2011 and the second £1.6 million in April 2012, demonstrating the market’s recognition of the need to solve the problem with ID verification. We intend to continue to develop as the industry standard in real online identity verification.”
Since the Startup Challenge in Toronto, Cellfony has begun to find investors and banks to work with, and are now working directly with a major bank on a breakthrough project. Jean-Luc Leleu, CEO, is hoping that this project leads to the opportunity to set up another company within the next 12 months.
TransferWise, a financial service built for people, not banks, converting money for nothing, found that the Innotribe Startup Challenge offered a great chance to meet other start-ups and industry thought leaders. The event provided good press coverage which helped to generate further networking within the industry. Since 2011, TransferWise has raised $1.3 million from leading VC investors and strategic angels.
The mission of the ChangeIt program from Formulating Change Inc. is to incubate philanthropy by making charitable giving part of everyone’s everyday transactions. David Beaton, CEO, says “the Innotribe event was fantastic for us. The key piece of feedback that we received was to build out the business case for banks on how ChangeIt fully supports and enhances their corporate social responsibility strategies. This valuable advice has helped to accelerate our growth.” The company used the experience as a vehicle to open doors which have led to strategic partnerships, and expect to have signed a major bank in the US and Canada in the next year. Mr. Beaton added: “Currently, we are building a footprint across Canada with credit unions, but in time we see ChangeIt as a program that every bank should adopt.”
The driving factor behind SynerScope is the sharp increase in the need for data analytics combined with a global shortage of analytical experts. SynerScope solves this problem by providing domain experts to do their own complex data analysis. To do this, they have designed, developed and implemented the world’s fastest interactive visual analysis system. SynerScope participated in the Innotribe Startup Challenge at a very early stage of the company, and Jan-Kees Buenen, CEO, says that the Challenge “provided feedback that the company should focus on developing the business plan on all fronts, with a product that addresses real problems in the financial industry.” Since Sibos, SynerScope have engaged with three banks as a direct result of the program, and have successfully completed POCs on AML and trade sanctioning surveillance. They are actively looking for ‘A’ round investments from VCs to expand operations in the coming months.
Duo Security’s two-factor authentication is the simplest and safest way to secure any Internet login or transaction and prevent online fraud and account takeover. In the last year, Duo Security received $5 million in the second round of funding from Google Ventures, True Ventures and Resonant Ventures. They have recently announced a partnership with Internet2 to offer an easy-to-use and low cost two-factor authentication technology to protect information and access to services on college campuses.
The achievements of all the companies, both start-ups and innovators, involved in the first Innotribe Startup Challenge at Sibos in 2011 demonstrate the value of the initiative. Whether by gaining feedback from leading VC investors, starting conversations with banks or generating funding, the Startup Challenge is significantly valuable in offering exposure and networking opportunities to other businesses and banking professionals in this highly competitive industry. It is proving the effectiveness of the new network we aim to build, where start-ups are getting exposure to FIs and ease their development within this ecosystem.
The success of the Startup Challenge has resulted in the expansion of Startup Challenge 2012 to America, Asia and Europe to find the best and most innovative start-up businesses to compete at Sibos in Osaka, Japan. The Challenge has selected a top startup and top innovator as winners at each showcase, and a round of online voting will determine the final 9 businesses that will compete for a $50,000 prize.