By Maria Gotsch, Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the FinTech Innovation Lab New York and President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City
This week we selected finalists for the FinTech Innovation Lab New York to present to our partner financial institutions. Their success will be determined, in part, by how well they address the considerations that are top of mind for CIOs and CTOs, who are usually very interested and hopeful that new innovations are both compelling and useful. However, CIOs and CTOs are having an internal dialogue when they are evaluating new technologies and a fintech CEO needs to answer some basic gating questions when they walk into the office of a senior technology executive at a major financial institution. Based on seeing how senior tech executives at our 43 financial institution partners have interacted with the 58 graduates and hundreds of applicants to our FinTech Innovation Lab program, a good entrepreneur will have answers to these questions:
- How will the product fit within my existing technology environment? Does it compete with an internal build?
- Does this product reduce or increase complexity of our technology stack? Will it allow me to remove something?
- How will this product impact our migration to the cloud (which means you as the entrepreneur should try to figure out where that organization is in their journey toward the cloud)?
- Will the product meet our regulatory and compliance requirements—since regulatory requirements around security, data handling, etc. extend throughout our vendor chain.
- If the product is powered by artificial intelligence, is the methodology explainable to the regulators? Or have we added a “black box” that will take time and effort to explain before we can deploy it at scale?
- Our institution’s data is like gold … how is this company working with, storing, and protecting our data?
- Does the company have a light-weight pilot—one that does not require extensive integration into our systems and access to our data?
- How important is this solution to the business unit? Is it “a nice to have” or is someone yelling at someone else about the problem that this product solves?
- Beyond being a cool technology, what value does this solution bring to our organization? What is the return on the cost of the product—either costs saved or new revenues generated?
- Does the company have the financial resources to survive what can be a lengthy evaluation and procurement process? Just as Rome was not built in a day, technology at a major financial institution is not bought in a day.
A smart entrepreneur will have the answers woven into their presentation or part of the framing questions they ask in the meeting. A wise entrepreneur will turn their presentation into a thoughtful discussion where the entrepreneur does as much listening as they do talking. That wisdom also includes transparency about what your technology can do and what it cannot yet do.