Eight innovative startups, two great banks, and two eager startup ecosystem partners all met for the first time at the Copenhagen Fintech Accelerator kick-off day. The kick-off is the beginning of a six-month-long journey to find the most innovative fintech solutions.
“We are partners. Not competitors.”
So said Jon Schäffer, Group Head of Strategic Partnerships, Danske Bank at the Copenhagen Fintech Lab Tuesday morning. And that pretty much underlines what this day was about.
On the second floor, the lounge was alive with the giddiness of new beginnings. Over coffee and croissants, the eight companies that were chosen to be the first batch of the new Copenhagen Fintech Accelerator embarked on their shared journey to transform some of the old, established and highly regulated industries of banking, housing, and legal.
Good partnerships demand full trust
On stage was their new collaborators consisting of Copenhagen Fintech Lab, Accelerace, the other founders in the group – and of the banks, entities that in the past would have been competitors. But in this setup, co-creation takes center stage.
“We are used to cooperate with our partner banks. We know there has to be full trust to make partnerships work. We have to get involved, we know it takes compromising and a willingness to find a common solution,” said Pernille Engelborg, First Vice President, Digital Partner Solutions in Totalkredit, that works together with 55 different partner banks of all sizes.
Now, Nykredit has entered into a new kind of partnership with Danske Bank, too, stated Lars Boe, Head of the Product Department of Totalkredit. And with Copenhagen Fintech Lab and Accelerace that runs the incubator and accelerator.
The most tailor-made accelerator for fintech companies
So what is in store for the eight companies? A highly tailormade program, designed for the individual’s need, but with a strong sense of community. The competition is healthy. We make each other better. We’re in this together.
Read more: Accelerace strengthens focus on fintech with new accelerator
What makes this accelerator different is not just that it is the first of it’s kind in Denmark working to attract and retain foreign talent. It is also more than the usual cookie-cutter three-month accelerator.
“Before you entered, we already had a high-level understanding of what we will go through with you. And we will tailor this experience to you as we go along. We are a toolbox that can be made to fit your exact needs,” said Søren Lottrup, Partner, Investment Manager and Business Accelerator in Accelerace continuing:
“We are your interim co-founders. We don’t take equity, but we will be part of your team. So you have to open up and let us in for us to have the biggest effect and be able to make the most effort.”
Assume, test, iterate, update, repeat
Accelerace is highly inspired by the world of sports. Talent is good – but training is everything. In Accelerace, the belief is that the same reasons for success that count in sports, count in entrepreneurship: The amount and of practice, the quality of the practice, and the right social context.
The accelerator is built on hypothesis-driven innovation, on Lean Canvas; a 1-page business plan template created by Ash Maurya that helps startups deconstruct their idea into its key assumptions, adapted from Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas and optimized for Lean Startups. Many talk about Lean Canvas. Not many know how to execute it. Accelerace does – and have worked closely together with Ash Maurya, who will also be visiting Symbion in the days of the fintech kick-off.
All eight startups presented their ideas and solutions in front of the partners and each other. And almost all of them ended their sharp 2-minute pitches by mentioning how much they looked forward to working together. To learn from each other. And to have access to the resources and knowledge the banks contain and are willing to share with the startups.
“There will be time in the program to slack. It is there on purpose so that you can engage. So spend your time wisely and get to know each other,” said Anders Handlos Grauslund, Business Accelerator and Investment Manager, Accelerace, before he let the startups loose to enjoy lunch and the first slack time.
Which the startups eagerly used to interact, laugh, and share stories from all around the world.