The 3D Fintech Challenge is an immersive, seven-week accelerator program designed to accelerate high-performance technology startup companies in the financial services sector, an area known as FinTech. The 2013 competition focused on analysis of big data; in 2014, the emphasis was on investment management.
London-based financial technology startup Kusiri won the 2013 Challenge, but the mentoring its leaders received from a wide range of senior financial services executives and industry experts led the company to transform its enterprise-only, due diligence search platform to a cloud-based service available within 24 hours to any user worldwide.
“We had thought when we went into the Challenge that we would polish and refine what we had,” Kusiri CEO Tim Clark said. “Instead, we grasped the opportunity to completely rethink our business proposition, which has contributed to us trebling our revenues and more than doubling our team size to 14.”
Challenge finalists run the gamut from those with prebuilt products that are already earning revenues to small startups with little more than a good idea. Finalists benefit from master classes and ongoing commercial mentoring from leading financial and software industry experts. All finalists pitch their solutions to industry participants and venture capitalists, and the winner is selected by a panel of senior industry players. James Stickland, director of Innovation and Investments at HSBC Global Banking and Markets in London, was one of the Challenge judges. If one theme applied to all the Challenge participants, Stickland said, it was: “How do we enable efficiency and take cost out of the business?”
Brendan Bradley, chief innovation officer at Eurex, a global derivatives exchange, was a judge and mentor on the 2014 Challenge. Each mentor firm, Bradley said, helps one startup evaluate its business plan and refine its offering.
“There’s a dedicated process to build a prototype around the idea the firm has and introduce it to a whole network of banks and financial institutions,” Bradley said. “A lot of tutoring goes on about such things as how to protect your intellectual property rights or how to pitch your idea to venture capital firms.”
Charles Pardue, a former executive at US bank JPMorgan Chase, is now founder and CEO of Prophis Technologies, a London-based startup that won the 2014 Challenge. The company’s iPad application enables client-facing personnel of asset management companies and private banks to communicate more effectively with either institutional investors or high-net-worth individuals. Prophis was paired with AllianceBernstein, a global investment management and research firm with billions of dollars under management. “The mentoringprocess created an environment equivalent to having reached a point in the sales process where someone is interested in your product idea and wants to ensure that it develops in a way that is meaningful to the mentor’s business,” Pardue said. “I felt the whole process worked very well, and the level of support was terrific.” ◆
Editor’s Note: The 3D FinTech Challenge was conceived, managed and sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, which also publishes Compass. Click here for more information and video interviews with Challenge participants and mentors.