If you’re nurturing an idea for a FinTech startup or if you’re already engaged in one, can I suggest you take a very close look at Nordea’s Startup Accelerator programme?
I’ve got a specific, vested interest: On the 1st of September, I’m joining Nordea to become joint Chief Digital Officer. More on that in a future post.
Back to Nordea. If you haven’t come across them, they’re big. Their About section describes it thus:
Nordea is the largest financial services group in the Nordic and Baltic region. Nordea holds leading positions in corporate and institutional banking as well as in retail and private banking. We are also the leading provider of life and pensions products in the Nordic countries. Nordea is one of few European banks with an AA- rating and is also among the ten largest full-service banks in Europe, based on market capitalisation.
This is the second year they’ve run their Startup Accelerator for FinTechs – you can find out more about the great startups from the 2015 intake on their site.
The Startup Accelerator, run in conjunction with the startup specialist Nestholma, is an intensive 3-month on-site programme designed to take your business idea and flesh it out through a combination of mentoring, training and funding opportunities.
If your startup is selected to participate in the programme, you’ll get a seed investment of 12k Euro to get you started, with the possibility of follow-on funding up to 150k Euro from Nestholma.
Plus you’ll also receive IBM Bluemix credits to help with your technology setup. I’ve had a look at Bluemix – and every super-geek I’ve spoken to really rates it. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to sit down and do some coding with it myself. Perhaps in the long winter nights in Copenhagen, I might get that chance.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the Nordea Startup Accelerator is the access to a wide variety of individuals — from executives at Nordea, big partners such as TCS, to FinTech and entrepreneurial experts.
During the upcoming selection week, travel expenses of up to 1.5k Euro per team will be reimbursed and both lunch and evening meals are also supplied.
One of the hardest, hardest challenges for any entrepreneur (and I’ve been there) is trying to get heard and trying to find the right person to speak to at a potential customer – such as Nordea. I know from long bitter experience the difference it makes to have a warm introduction.
The Nordea Startup Accelerator offers potentially way more than a simple warm introduction though, particularly if you look at the key focus areas (or themes):
1. Emerging technologies like Cognitive computing / Artificial intelligence in banking and Financial usage of Blockchain Technology
2. Digital life and pensions
3. Bank’s role in the sharing economy and new value chains
4. Bank’s role in enabling rapid transaction and contracts
5. Compliance and changes in regulation: e.g. MiFID, PSD2, AML, KYC
6. Surprise us!
If your startup — or that of a friend — is focusing on any of these themes, it’s definitely worth a conversation with the Nordea Startup Accelerator team. I’d imagine that any startup with an offering covered by these themes will be of interest not just to Nordea but many other financial organisations.
There’s not a ton of time to hang around though. You need to apply (that’s free of charge) and you have to do so quickly — before 7th of August. If you’re selected, then the next step is to prepare to fly to Oslo for the Selection Week. If you’re selected, then you begin the 12-week programme a few weeks later on 12th September all the way through to 2nd December.
I’m hoping to be closely involved with the Nordea Startup Accelerator on-going. I’ve a keen interest in each of those themes and I’m particularly looking forward to attending the launch day on 22nd of August.
I’ve had a look at the application form — it doesn’t look too onerous. I reckon I could complete that pretty quickly — and I’m talking minutes, as opposed to hours.
Here’s an overview video of the Nordea Startup Accelerator with a bit more information:
If you’ve any questions whatsoever, or if you’d like to chat, the team are standing by to hear from you. They’re particularly responsive on Twitter too (@NordeaStartup). You’re most welcome to drop me a note and I’ll connect you too – I’m firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do pass this on to any colleagues who might be interested.
Thanks for reading. Bring on Oslo on the 22nd of August!