Fintechs, Beware of ‘Innovation Tourists’

  • Diana Asatryan
  • June 22, 2017
  • 0

Now that the industry is (mostly) clear on the fintech “friend or foe” issue, startups are busy pitching their products to the eager incumbents and their innovation teams.

However, a new creature has emerged in this process, which can potentially place more roadblocks on a startup’s development journey. Startups, beware of “innovation tourists.”

“One of the hardest things about being a small company these days is picking your partners,” Jane Barratt, founder of online investing platform Goldbean, told Bank Innovation. “And these days, everyone says they want to partner, but honestly there are a lot of ‘innovation tourists’ out there, and you end up just training people,” without yielding anything in return, she added.

It’s a tricky situation to get around, according to Barratt: “Eventually, you find yourself wondering ‘Why am I training a trillion-dollar asset company?’”

So how should startups avoid these situations?

There is no clear-cut solution, according to Barratt, but getting “as close to the decision maker as possible” is a good start.

“You need to ask, is this person that you are meeting responsible for partnerships? Do they have any ownership of the product roadmap?” she said. “And this last point is very important, because sometimes you go through all the business rounds, and when you do get a hold of the right person, you find out that their product roadmap is full for the next three or four years.”

But the good news is that incumbents are much more open to discussions on new ideas and technologies. Still, it’s up to fintechs to do their due diligence before pitching to FIs.

“Know the problem that you are solving, the partners that you are looking for … and have a product that’s easily adjustable for various needs,” Barratt said.

GoldBean is a graduate of INV Fintech, this site’s sister accelerator.

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