Google Fintech Startup Weekend
So, what a wonderful weekend I’ve just had down at Google Campus. A group of us went down to help mentor the Startups who got together over the weekend. As well as our lovely lot, there were mentors there from some of the leading names in FinTech, Startup and Design industry like Growth Street, Vestd, Uphold and TH_NK (who Atom worked with).
After a hilarious train ride courtesy of Graeme the Train Guard on Virgin East Coast, we got there just after 6 on the Friday. We milled around, chatted to a few people, and obviously took advantage of the cold beverages available!
Next up was a couple of introductions from some key speakers, with Leigh from Atom’s Marketing team showing what the app is aiming for, how we are looking to bridge the gap between traditional banking and technology available to us now.
Our groups then started with their 60 second pitches and voted for the ideas they thought were the most interesting. This got a bit raucous, with everyone vying for developers, designers, people with FinTech knowledge and people with business knowledge.
We formed and unformed groups, so by Day 2 we were down to Seven teams of heavily caffeine fuelled people who would work on their projects throughout the weekend.
First up for the mentors was a design clinic session. Since we got there earlier than we were needed, we spent a bit of time learning about what the groups were working on and chatting to the other mentors about what they did (not everyone knew each other).
I chatted to a team who were looking at how to simplify bill splitting. They were called Slated. They looked at how to split a bill for a round of drinks or in a restaurant. They worked up some ideas and were constantly validating their thinking by going out to the community and finding out if any merchants would be interested in signing up for their idea.
In finding a couple of other similar services, and talking through the real problem case of it taking too long, looking at the issue of vendor takeup, they decided to laser focus their proposition on how to simplify the experience too.
We also chatted to a team called Connequity, who were looking at the secondary equity share market. Their hypothesis was that there are plenty of cash strapped people working in the startup industry who wanted to release the money tied up in their equity shares to do things like put a deposit down on a property. Sounded very technical to me, but they had some great ideas about how they were looking to execute their business plans.
Day three was upon us, after a fun night out in Shoreditch, we grabbed some Guatemalan hipster coffees from Ozone and headed down to the Google Campus.
Another Design Clinic, but this time a more free format one. I had a great conversation with Isaac who was working on an idea for giving Financial Advice to people who weren’t likely to visit a Financial Adviser in the first place. We had some great ideas and really challenged the concept of financial advice, learning through education and storytelling.
I caught up with the guys from Slated, and the end ‘product’ from them was simple but impressive functionality which would allow the user to ‘check in’ and request the bill to enable a pay by SMS functionality. Really great stuff coming out of that team.
Olli and I sat through some pitch prep with a team called Home Run, who were looking at doing an end to end Mortgage Journey under one roof. It was really exciting to see them run through this, and we loved guiding them along, even with just small things like how many details were on their slides – I can only read so much whilst I listen to you!
All the prep done and dusted, we rushed off to the train station to catch our train. I wish we had stayed for the judging – we missed out on watching it live. Handily we watched a periscope on the train and were delighted to see pitches from the guys we had kept our eyes on.
One idea we were pretty gutted about not seeing get anything was the guys from Betwork – a team of people who were looking to corner the Tipster market in betting so you can share bets you make, and follow successful people with what they do! Unreal.
Remove the rules, everyone wins
Well, it’s great to be out of the office with such a great group of people for one. What really came through in the whole weekend was how a change of scenery can really allow you to explore ideas, chat through them, refine them, and make plans to keep them as a pet project.
All we need is space, a few good people who have the desire to get on, and we can do great things.