By Laura Spiekerman, Co-founder of Alloy
Fintech companies that target their product at mainstream financial institutions need to beat the paradox that they can’t build a strong list of customers until they have a strong list of customers. That sums up where our business was when we joined the FinTech Innovation Lab New York class of 2017.
At that time, our product was live at a handful of small fintech companies, but we needed to attract a major bank as reference for our technology. Most large banks are understandably cautious about the risks of entrusting core processes or infrastructure to small and unproven vendors, so we needed to find one that would take a chance on us.
Enter the Lab, with its deep connections with New York City’s financial institutions. Over the 12 weeks of the program, we gained exposure to people from different departments and disciplines at some of the city’s largest banks. We learned so much from each of them.
Matchmaking with potential partners
The Lab was a great matchmaker, helping us to navigate the cultural, organizational and technological complexities at the banks with which we met. With the support of our mentors, we built relationships with the institutions that could potentially derive the most value from our product.
Through the Lab we met a senior executive at a forward-looking regional bank that had an ambitious digital strategy with designs on growing into a national player. Having worked with a range of startups, he understood what we were trying to do and saw the potential of our customer (KYC) / anti-money laundering (AML) toolset and API.s
Post program, this executive continued to be one of our biggest champions and played a key role in helping us seal an agreement with his organization.
The Lab not only helped us to meet stakeholders at big institutions, but also fintechs facing similar challenges to us or developing synergistic offerings. The chance to share experiences and develop joint opportunities with companies like ours was valuable. These relationships have persisted and grown beyond the end of the formal program.
Looking back on our experience with the Lab, we were an early-stage company at the time we participated, and we may have gotten even more value from it if our business had been slightly more mature. But getting into large institutions and being taken seriously was a major boost to our business.
Winning our first major banking customer has really accelerated our success, and we now have around 60 clients in total. Our first client success—having the endorsement of a major customer—opened many other doors for us. I recommend this program to any fintech that wants to partner with large financial institutions and grow its business. As part of the FinTech Lab family, we continue to have opportunities to engage with the financial institutions and alumni in the Lab.
If you’re applying for the class of 2020, good luck! It’s an experience that can help put you on a faster track to growth and success.