By Alston Zecha, Director
Having co-founded a mobile payments startup in 2012 before we even called it “FinTech”, it has been great to see the ecosystem maturing, with ever better talent joining startups. But if I had just one piece of advice for founders it would be: don’t forget the basics of business building. Skip the meetups and FinTech conferences, identify a real problem for which people in the real world will pay money (i.e. not just your mates in Shoreditch or Canary Wharf), assemble a team which has prior startup experience, financial services expertise and deep technology skills, build a world-class product and work your arse off.
Financial Services is still in the early phases of digitisation and disruption, and this will take years due to significant inertia from complex business models, large incumbents, strict regulations, customer conservatism and now geo-political volatility. And as some high profile FinTech 1.0 pioneers have stumbled, enthusiasm for investments in FinTech overall has dampened of late. But in the long-run, it’s no bad thing that FinTech has shed the irrational exuberance of previous years. This creative destruction paves the way for FinTech 2.0 winners.
Brexit hasn’t been the Armageddon of Project Fear, but that’s because Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet. I’m an optimist who’s hoping for “the best possible deal”, that is: world-class talent building FinTech winners with access to global markets. But we’ve seen how adept all major political parties (on both sides of the Atlantic) have become at shooting themselves in the foot. So while Brexit is probably not the best news for FinTech in the short-term, despite (or because of?) current geo-political turbulence, we at Eight Roads remain optimistic that many great FinTechs are still waiting to be built.
Eight Roads, fka Fidelity Growth Partners, is a global VC with $4Bn AUM. We’ve been investing in technology for over 20 years, with local teams in Europe, US, China, India and Japan. Though we are not a CVC, given our heritage from Fidelity it should be no surprise that we have deep FinTech expertise. All our European senior investment professionals have FinTech investing and/or operating experience going back a decade or more. Our relevant global investments include Alibaba, Axoni, China PnR, Compte Nickel, Flywire, FutureAdvisor, iPipeline, Kensho, Prosper Lending, River Security, Snapsheet, Xoom.
Eight Roads typically invests in Series A and B rounds. We look to back great teams with ambitions to build a European or global winner and who have the passion, strategic nous and attention to detail to underpin their vision. An Eight Roads investment can be the start of a long-term partnership, so we prefer situations where we have strong shared values and where our global platform, network of industry execs and sector expertise can add value beyond just our deep pockets.