In a world that seems more fragmented than ever, I was heartened to learn more about the delicate inter-dependencies that make innovation in business happen more quickly and effectively than ever. Partnership, collaboration and even friendship are at the heart of global business innovation.
At a packed post-Brexit panel event in London at the end of June, we heard from entrepreneur Monica Kalia – a former Goldman Sachs banker who stepped two years ago into the disruptive FinTech space to co-found Neyber.co.uk – and Barclays Head of Rise and Group Innovation, Lubaina Manji, alongside me and Thomson Reuters Global Head of Innovation for Financial & Risk Amanda West.
The speed of financial technological innovation means that big companies and banks have to collaborate with entrepreneurs and academics to keep up with the pace of change. At the same time, startups and academics need the business input to scale, fund and provide relevance in highly regulated markets.
For a company like Thomson Reuters, being part of this puts us at the forefront of where financial and risk, legal, and tax and accounting professionals are moving or will need to move to in the future.
FinTech startups: Recommendations for success
Below are some lessons from our discussion that showcase the increasingly inter-connected FinTech innovation ecosystem:
- FinTech entrepreneurs can’t afford to work in isolation. They need access to capital market investment and often need to work with banks and lenders to do so, and therefore it has to be a partnership.
- All entrepreneurs need to persuade investors that they have a disruptive model that is going to change the status quo.
- FinTech startups must demonstrate the ability to grow in a regulated environment in order to survive.
- Deep subject matter expertise is paramount – for both intrapreneurs innovating inside businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Selection into an innovation program like Barclays Accelerator, that cultivates tech startups, has clear criteria: “When we select startups for the program, we have four priorities: one is the team, two is the team, three is the team and four is the proposition!”
- Startups, working with big business, need to be able to ‘pivot’ and reflect market needs; however…
- …Kalia warned: “I have seen startups that have had exposure to mentors on accelerators and they’ve ‘pivoted’ when they shouldn’t have. If you fundamentally believe your model is right, you have to say ‘Sorry, I’m going to go for it.’”
Cultivating ideas for the FinTech market
I’d say that the same is true of ‘Intrapreneurship’. It takes a lot of tenacity for our employees to take ideas through to market. They have to continue to pitch to sponsors and supporters. They need to work tirelessly to encourage their peers to accept and support their ideas.
It is rewarding to see innovations at Thomson Reuters playing squarely in the space of our FinTech panelists and focused on the hottest and some of the most game-changing topics of our time: including cognitive computing, cloud, blockchain and the internet of things (IoT). We are unlocking employees’ passions, and will continue to do so, be it through partnership, global innovation challenges, enterprise-wide workshops, hackathons and seed funding programs.
At the same time we’re ensuring we work with FinTech startups and academia through our network of Labs and partnerships with programs such as Barclays Accelerator. As one of our panelists put it:
“Being part of the global innovation ecosystem makes sense for us all. We’d be foolish not to be a part of it.”
Technology has opened up the world and opened up person-to-person connections. Little can stop that.
And at a time when partnership and collaboration can seem in short supply in the wider world, it’s rewarding to hear that everyone can benefit in business from the art of innovation, and we really are all in this together.
Visit Innovation @ ThomsonReuters.com for more on how we bring together smart data and human expertise to find trusted answers.