La Carica delle 101 meets the FD community: energy, vision, synergies and new horizons

Last November, a confidential meeting was held between La Carica delle 101 and some startups of the FD Community: an opportunity to offer them a confrontation with experienced professionals and the chance to reflect on their own growth path and how to continue it, not acting by default but making the right choices that the context requires, moment by moment.

As is often the case, the day proved to be satisfying, as Giovannella Condò, Founder of La Carica delle 101, Notary Public and Co-Founder of Milano Notai, said pointed out: “Fintech has been a discovery and certainly an object of great interest for our community. It is an ecosystem that has been too little explored and is growing fast. We met startups with interesting business models and well-prepared and ambitious startuppers, with a desire to bring the business to the scale-up phase”.

We were so impressed by the success of the meeting, and sorry not to be able to share it live for obvious reasons of confidentiality, we decided to bring you the post-event impressions of some of the protagonists, as if you had met them at the bar immediately afterwards.

Happy reading!

When you have been working on a project for a long time, you risk losing objectivity and contact with some of the elements that are fundamental to the value proposition of a product. It is therefore necessary for every professional to confront the outside world, trying to see things from a new and creative point of view. The power and whirlwind of 101 women can sweep you away and accompany you towards new visions…
Alan Gallicchio – Ecomate

This experience has been very positive and stimulating. The fact that I was able to interface with a group of women only soley on issues that are fundamental to our business was something very different from what I am used to, as our team is predominantly made up of men. Their professionalism helped me to look at my startup from a different point of view, bringing out many interesting ideas that deserve to be developed and implemented.
Matteo Anthony Destantini – SplittyPay

Beyond the nice atmosphere that was created during the meeting, the comparison with the 101ers helped us to have more confidence in some strategic choices related to the scalability path of Ener2Crowd, and to bring out some misalignments between the message proposed to the market and the values and vision of the company. Also in this case, the depth of the interlocutors and the punctuality of the interventions and comments helped us to understand which elements to focus on to make our mission even more engaging and impactful. From an open and shared reflection, we found the strength to take immediate action.
Giorgio Mottironi – Ener2Crowd

And you find yourself in front of women with different experiences, skills, positions and backgrounds, yet all united, ready to support you and team up for your goal, which suddenly becomes theirs too. So a real commitment emerges, a real will to confront each other, to propose solutions and new approaches. “Nobody can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to reproduce it.” (H.E. Luccock)
Romina Zorzini – Trakti

It was certainly a great opportunity and pleasure to be part of the 101 charge. We had the opportunity to receive feedback and put our product under stress at a crucial stage where any feedback is precious. I think it’s a wonderful project that allows anyone in the world of innovation to engage with people who are extremely knowledgeable and willing to help.
Daniele Mogavero – Corptape

It was a very positive experience with the 101’s charge. A group of exceptional women who, with experience, attention and a different point of view, provided us with precious ideas and contributions regarding the sharing of our OpenMall project, the social commerce managed by AI in 3D and XR with avatars and virtual assistants that evolves in a persistent and synchronous metaverse. We thank 101 for the strong interest shown and compliments received and the Fintech District that made this possible”.
Gennaro Calì – OpenAI

I really liked the way the event was organised, and it was great to be able to tell about Switcho to professionals who had already looked at our startup’s document before the meeting and had had a preliminary preparation meeting. Thanks to this process, I was able to quickly explain the project and receive so much valuable feedback and insight in just one hour of conversation.”
Redy Vyshka – Switcho

The Outsiders Inn was an inspiring but also brainstorming event with the 101 people in the room. Everyone contributed according to their own experience and I’m sure we all took away something away: an idea, a test, a discovery. This is the strength of the group. The different experiences put together create new knowledge. As an entrepreneur, I take home a list of experiments to do. On the other hand, you can’t improve without trying, failing and trying again.
Ester Liquori – Ghostwriter

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A selection of professionals for FD startups

Thanks to its network, Fintech District is inaugurating a new activity in support of the startup community which now counts 150 members. It ismaking available to them,free of charge, the skills of many professionals coming from different fields.

After investigating what could be the needs of fintech, its most poignant and painful points, FD has built important partnerships with professional firms that, as from today, will be helping Fintech companies become stronger, finding and pursuing new business opportunities.

Preparatory work for the project started months ago but never before has it been so necessary and important to support the Italian ecosystem in the face of “extra” unknown events related to the pandemic. All these in addition to those that are already part of the path of a company that must conquer its market and strengthen its position.

Exploring the group of professionals available, each Fintech can ask FD for a free needs assessment and analysis and then take advantage of this service by choosing the areas and offer based on the needs assessment and gap analysis. At this point, it can book a meeting with the professional it considers most useful. At present it will be a call but hopefully this will soon be a flesh and blood meeting at Copernico Isola for 32

The three areas identified by FD are Talent&People, Organization, Growth.

Here are the professionals the Fintech District startups will meet.

  • BonelliErede, market leader for legal and tax services in Italy, brings together its digital innovation expertise in a dedicated Focus Team focusing on 4 key areas: innovation, fintech, insurtech and start-ups
  • Carbonetti and Partners is a boutique firm highly specialized, inter alia, in Corporate and M&A, Banking and Finance regulation and Capital Markets law
  • Leyton advises clients all aspects of innovation funding, energy consultancy and capital advisory
  • Linklaters is a leading global law firm, combining legal expertise with a collaborative and innovative approach to help clients navigate constantly evolving markets and regulatory environments.
  • NoDoubt is an Independent Consultancy Firm founded in 2015 and active in Human Resources & Organization.
  • StartupbootCamp – Joost Bergen is an entrepreneur, investor and Fintech lead at Startupbootcamp. Joost brings a wealth of experience in the Corporate Banking ecosystem on how technology enables the delivery of value, operational efficiency and reduction of risk.
  • Value4you offers training on traditional and innovative finance issues to founders, entrepreneurs, managers and administrators and provides CFO services to companies to fuel growth.
  • Wexplore is an HRTech company specialized in providing technological and human solutions to drive the development of organizations and their people.

As we wait to know which new pages of history of our ecosystem will be written thanks to these collaborations, we invite you to discover all the services we are offering to the fintech startups of the community in this page

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Open Banking for fintechs: what are the benefits?

Open banking is one of the most pronounced words in the fintech sector. In 2020 we should see concrete results after the entry into force of PSD2 on 14 September 2019 and the many promises made for of following months. Marco Scaccia, Business Developer at Fabrick, held a mentorship session on this, to the startups of our community, to explain what open banking can mean for a fintech with examples and case histories.

Why is open banking considered “revolutionary”?

Because it offers an opportunity to all European Financial Institutions at a very special time for traditional banking players. Industry players know that, for example, margins from transactional services are increasingly shrinking. This can put many banks, that have relied on these revenue lines for decades, into difficulty. These “commoditization” dynamics are also occurring on other fronts. Open banking allows banks to “open up”. Indeed, thanks to PSD2, it obliges them to do so. This offers many opportunities for creating new value-added services and shifting investments to the construction of new use cases.

What concrete opportunities do you offer fintech operating in Italy?

From my point of view, fintechs should not necessarily be perceived as a competitor of banks. On the contrary, they are very often the essential partners of Financial Institutions that want to take advantage of the opportunities provided by PSD2 and open banking in general. In this context, Fabrick puts itself forward as a reference platform connecting the ideas and technological skills of fintech with the needs and investment capacity of incumbents. This is the first concrete opportunity for Fintech and, at Fabrick, we are seeing these synergies more and more frequently.

The second opportunity is definitely PSD2. The two major innovations it introduces are AISP and PISP.

  • AISP (Account Information Service Provider) are third party providers (TPP) accredited by the regulator of the reference country (Bank of Italy in the Italian case) that can perform multi-account information operations, potentially within all European payment accounts. AISPs can also analyze the data obtained to gain insights and develop value-added functionalities to propose to their customers.
  • PISPs (payment initiation service provider) are TPP that, on the other hand, initialize payments within accounts. PISPs must also have a specific license in order to operate. It is clear that both AISPs and PISPs have the possibility to rethink traditional banking services and to create new ones.

Two tips you would give to fintech to make the most of things

The first piece of advice is to think about your business strategy with, amongst other things, a view to a partnership with banks and trying to understand how the technical skills developed can be complementary with traditional banking services. For open banking to be truly successful, the relationship between fintech and incumbent will be fundamental.

The second one, with reference to the opportunities dictated by PSD2, is to choose a partner that is able to simplify the activities necessary to operate as AISP and PISP. An example could be by adopting a model that simplifies the regulatory and compliance requirements of fintech. This would allow them to focus on their core business. The PSD2 solutions provided by Fabrick are able to provide fintech and banks with the technology infrastructure and simplify compliance aspects.

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Mapping Milan Fintech with Endeavor

Mapping Milan Fintech is a unique study, carried out by Endeavor Italy, which analyzes not only the presence of fintech in Milan but also the relationships that entrepreneurs have with each other and with the territory and institutions. Gloria Seveso, Manager – Entrepreneur Selection & Growth of Endeavor Italy, illustrates the key points

What are the distinguishing features of this fintech study compared to other similar researches? Who are the main recipients?

This study deploys a methodology developed by Endeavor Insight, with the support of various research institutes and universities including Kaufman Fellow, The World Economic Bank, and Columbia University. The focus is the network analysis, which offers an overview of main actors and the connections between them. Besides using pre-existing sources, the study is based on primary data, collected through surveys and direct interviews with entrepreneurs and representatives of support organizations. Therefore, the study captures the perceptions of the main players in the fintech ecosystem, hence highlighting qualitative aspects that are generally overlooked by other reports. With this regard, our goal was to raise awareness of those subjects who play the role of enablers to the challenges that fintech faces in our Country.

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Which one of the results surprised you the most and why?

The most obvious result is that Milan is struggling to launch fintech companies that are capable of scaling-up. Indeed, this is not surprising since it is a common characteristic of many sectors and at the Italian level. Among the over 80 fintech companies born in Milan in the past 5 years, only 5% have reached or exceeded 50 employees. This is a significant limitation considering that the effective growth of the ecosystem is proven to be driven precisely by these companies able to scale.

A more interesting result concerns the perception of meritocracy and the criteria needed to succeed. Less than 10% of respondents believe that gender (i.e. female or male) is a critical trait to be successful in fintech. Yet, less than 10% of companies in the sector have female founders.

Fintech that are struggling to scale-up. What are the three main reasons identified and, for each of them, how to make a change?

  1. Access to capital – Most venture capitalists look at fintech as a difficult sector to invest in, mainly due to the need for large set-up capital due to compliance with the regulation. Furthermore, international investors are often held back by a strong focus on the local market of Italian fintech startups. What can be done, is to create structured opportunities to interact with international investors and to increase the attractiveness of the local ecosystem.
  2. Access to non-banking talents – Companies in the startup and scale-up phase struggle accessing talent, especially with technical and managerial skills with previous experience in the scale-up space. This applies for instance to crucial positions, such as HR. To turn things around, institutions need to invest in attracting foreign talent, which includes encouraging the bring-back of Italian talents abroad. Both economic and legislative incentives are needed, yet these are not enough. We need to think about programs aiming at communicating the attractiveness of Italian companies.
  3. Regulatory compliance – Over 50% of respondents pointed-out regulatory compliance as the main challenge in the sector, mainly due to the uncertainty of the regulatory framework. Organizations like Italia Fintech are doing a brilliant job by bringing the fintech startups’ needs to decision-making tables. It is essential to create windows in which regulation is lighter, so as to respond to legislative needs without stifling innovation.

In this scenario, what role does Endeavor play / could play?

Endeavor is an international organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs in the Countries in which it operates. Our core activity is to help companies that have passed the selection process through mentorship, support in fundraising and international expansion. The value of an ecosystem is recognized above all by the presence of so-called unicorns. Therefore, the role of Endeavor is to encourage their birth and thus generate a positive impact on the country’s economy.

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Artificial intelligence in the future of fintech

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly important player and is transforming and strengthening many sectors of our ecosystem, including the financial and insurance ones. We asked Francesco Basciani, data scientist of IBM and expert in the subject, what could be the possible developments in fintech and which new job opportunities could arise. Basciani is also one of the mentors in our mentorship program offered for free to the startups of the community. If you want to know more click here. But first, read the interview!

AI is developing fast but there is still great unexpressed potential. What are the biggest challenges for “unlocking the potential of AI” in 2020?

The application of AI models within companies is bringing benefits in terms of process automation, improved customer service and the discovery of previously unknown insights. The main ingredient to make profitable and proficient use of AI, is certainly the most important data. The more data you will own and the more you will be able to make it consistent and easily usable, the more you will be able to develop a data-driven approach within the company.

A limit we find today, however, is the non-applicability of AI in strongly regulated contexts where, in many core processes, the objective cause-effect relationship of the phenomena is required. This is one of the themes of the future: to make AI explainable. If we overcome it, there will be a great development of Augmented Intelligence.

What problems does the AI solve in the financial world today?

The application of AI in the financial and insurance sector is also allowing to improve the quality of services to the customer and reduce time and costs through better management of risk and fraud. The fields of application are many, from capital trading to fraud detection. On the latter, many traditional players are opening up to the use of increasingly innovative techniques to anticipate and discover new fraudulent patterns. This is a great challenge for the future.

And, which ones could it resolve, or contribute towards resolving, in the future?

In general, the fields of applicability of IA are numerous. With the advent of the 5G, the explosion of the IoT and increasingly simple access to large computational resources, the problems that the AI can help to solve are many and varied. The most important issue will surely be understanding the role of AI in the process of improving services such as Robo Advice, anti-money laundering or fraud detention (increasingly advanced).

This evolution also has an impact on new job opportunities. How do the profiles that companies have to choose with the necessary skills have to change?

Surely soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the labor market because of the high speed with which technologies are changing. For this reason, a strong analytical ability will be increasingly required, together with a strong curiosity and a great ability to seize the opportunities that innovation offers.

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Giulio Montoli helps you manage your shareholders

We talked about the role and management of shareholders in the fintech industry together with our mentor Giulio Montoli, head of LVenture Group‘s Acceleration Program. There are 3 main mistakes to avoid: do you already know what they are? Read it on and find out!

What are the priorities a startup must keep in mind when managing its shareholders?

It depends a lot on the type of shareholder. Whether it is an actively managed fund or not, whether it is a professional private individual or not, whether it is a syndicate and of what entity. There are many types of investors and each has a different approach. A general rule that can apply to all is trying to get the best in terms of value added by “smart” investors and contain the “dumb” investors as much as possible.

Three mistakes not to make?

  1. Treating investors as “milking cows” by calling them out only when you need funds
  2. Do not define action perimeters before the investment. It is very important to define with transparency the type of contribution is expected from an investor in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  3. To insert in the board (or in important positions) people with experience of traditional enterprise but not in management of investment in startups.

Do you think the fintech sector has special characteristics in terms of shareholders?

The only difference is the more frequent presence of industrial investors in the captables of companies. This is good, from a certain point of view, because it means more skills and ability to bring value to the business. At the same time, it can be a threat to the decision-making independence of the founder team because there can be a misalignment between the industrial interests of the investor and those of the startup.

Taking advantage of your role as head of acceleration program I want to ask you if the role of acceleration programs is changing in your opinion?

The business model of an accelerator is very complex and cash intensive, which was not taken into account in many business plans. In recent years there has been a natural consolidation of the market: many companies have withdrawn from this last or have completely changed model. Today, the number of accelerators that are really active in the field of investments have been reduced, but those remaining have expanded. The interpretation we give to our work varies from player to player: we have chosen not to bind ourselves to a particular verticalisation in terms of investment but to focus on the quality of the offer in terms of the network and skills of the management team. Other players have moved with vertical programs on certain industries acting as sponsors. Personally, I don’t think the direction of the investments should be decided top-down or at a table.

Let’s end with your opinion on the Italian fintech ecosystem: how is it evolving?

The Italian ecosystem of startups has always been characterized by a heavy under-capitalization of even the best realities. Fintech startups generally work with very low margins or with negative unit economics in the early stages of life and growth: to support similar business models, investments which until a few years ago were almost impossible to obtain in our country. Today things are changing a bit both thanks to the interest of companies and because the availability of capital for startups is increasing. In my opinion, there are still gaps in the various stages of funding but I am very optimistic about the future. We also have a better offer today that can support Fintech startups in the early stages of development.

  • Giulio Montoli is a mentor of the mentorship program that Fintech District offers to community startups, free of charge. If you want to know more, click here.
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Pandian and the art of retaining talent in teams

How can one build a team and retain talent using compensation management? This is a real dilemma for a successful startup since the concept of team is one of the most important factors that determine the fate of an entrepreneurial adventure. To answer this question we chose Enrico Pandian.

In March he was the protagonist of the session of the mentorship program the Fintech District offers to the startups of its community. We also decided to interview him so that his valuable advice could remain available to everyone.

What are the main criteria that should guide us in building a startup team?

Hiring people who reflect the initial corporate culture. It’s not easy when the team starts to be structured.

Three characteristics that a team must have to function.

Humility, honesty, integrity

What is the best thing to do to retain talent in your team?

It is necessary to take into account the fact that the life of employees is strongly influenced by the situation of the startup. I personally put them at ease but at the same time, I also create challenges to test their limits.

Does compensation management help to retain talent in a team?

It’s a practice that certainly brings more and more important benefits but for me, the main tool for retaining talent in this day and age is corporate life.

How can you make it convenient to work in a startup?

It already is (convenient), for those who want to take risks! For certain a tax exemption on working on innovative startups would help even more.

In a video of yours published on LinkedIn, you advise 30-40-year-olds to choose a career in a startup instead of a big corp. Can you explain to us the reason for this? Does it apply to all sectors, including fintech?

In the video, I wanted to show, numbers in hand, the growth in a startup vs. a big corp. I know that it can be difficult to understand it, I see it in the talks I'm doing in these months: the culture of stock options is completely missing.

About Enrico Pandian

Enrico Pandian is the founder of Supermercato24, the platform for day-to-day home shopping delivery, founded in 2014, but not only. Pandian can be defined as a serial entrepreneur. He started 17 different companies, 3 of them were very successful, the other 14 taught him the value of failure. With Checkout Technologies, his most recent entrepreneurial adventure, Pandian aims to eliminate the mechanism of passing through the supermarket checkout by combining artificial intelligence, facial recognition, behaviour recognition and deep learning.

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