In late May, Nadeem Shaikh, the founder and CEO of Anthemis Group in the UK, was invited by NongHyup Bank to help Korean fintech startups enter foreign markets more easily.
Since we have a fintech center at Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy and Innovation, his visit to our center was also arranged and 10 Korean fintech startups welcomed him at the center together.
I had the honor of hosting the pitching event for Korean fintech startups. Since Nadeem and his Anthemis Group are well known for investing in fintech startups, the 10 Korean fintech startups were also pleased to have the opportunity to pitch to him at the center.
All 10 fledgling fintech firms have already been recognized as promising startups and their technologies are impressive and innovative. If even one fintech startup were to be selected by Anthemis, that would be a great opportunity.
All the audience gave a big hand to him and he introduced himself briefly. Each Korean fintech startup began pitching its technology and business in turn, with all of them doing so in English. They were very passionate about introducing their startups and impressing Nadeem.
It was terrific and very touching at the same time, because I could feel their enthusiasm and hunger. “Great, they are showing they’re hungry and innovative enough,” I thought to myself. “That’s it, and all the Korean fintech startups really nailed it!”
I asked Nadeem to share his evaluation or feedback on all those magnificent-looking pitches. And he got up and approached the podium. He asked me if he could be very honest about those pitches. His comments were very insightful and sharp.
First, many startups tend to be too obsessed with their innovative technology in their pitches. Though having innovative technology is undeniably important and impressive, it’s not everything that investors are looking for.
At the end of the day, technology can be caught up with more quickly than you might want to believe. Second, he said convincing investors why the preexisting technology should be replaced by the new technology was essential. Introducing your new technology and not mentioning how you are going to persuade financial institutes to accept it is not attractive to investors.
Last but not least, what many fintech startups forget to do is to present their own business models with an emphasis on revenue and monetization. Simply presenting your innovative technology won’t be enough. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but was definitely helpful advice for startups seeking investment.
What he pointed out was right on the money. When startups develop or find innovative technology, they have to know that it is just a starting point. They should not be oblivious to working on good business and revenue models.
By David Sehyeon Baek
David Sehyeon Baek is the chief of the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy and Innovation’s international affairs, cooperation and public relations. The views reflected in the article are his own. --Ed.