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Startups looking to sell their good ideas to a corporate need to ensure that they can argue a clear business case with a proven solution and a demonstrable market, says Shirley Gilbey, the head of Rise and Co-creation at Barclays Africa Group.
“Every relationship should be transactional — they (startups) have a solution that we want to offer our customers. There must be value for both sides in the collaboration,” points out Gilbey.
Think about the market and how you would scale across regions says Barclays Africa’s Shirley Gilbey
Ventureburn spoke to Gilbey about what startups should consider if they want to sell their innovative idea, app or web platform to the bank. Here’s what she had to say:
Ventureburn: What are some important tips for startups looking to approach Barclays Africa with their idea for an app, widget or platform?
Shirley Gilbey: They need to think about the market, that is, whether it’s large or growing; how they would scale across regions. We are more interested in startups which can scale into all our territories. Ideas don’t matter until made they come with market traction. Startups need a minimal viable product that has been tested to some degree in the market.
VB: What channels should startups go through and what kinds of things should they have prepared and get in order before approaching the bank with their ideas?
SG: They can approach the bank through Rise (www.thinkrise.com), which brings together the world’s best and brightest startups and experts to create the future of financial services.
Startups need to have a pitch or product deck: a simple document outlining what their solution does and why it would be interesting to the bank, as well as a clear indication of what they are looking for (partnership, funding or mentorship). They must have a working solution to demonstrate.
VB: What is the process one usually follows when one is trying to sell a product or service to the bank? Who does it all have to pass through there, usually?
SG: There are multiple entry points, and multiple teams which could be approached. As an organisation, we empower all our business units to seek, harness and consume innovation. But if a startup doesn’t know where to start, they can start with the Rise team.
VB: In general, how can startups improve the way they deal with corporates? Are there certain things that make them look more professional?
SG: Standard things: be on time, proof read your documents; have a slick presentation, and look presentable. Basically, follow standard business etiquette. Ultimately what really matters is the solution… and being slick about it helps.
VB: What are some common mistakes you see startups that want to sell tech products or services to the bank make?
SG: Coming with an idea with no proven solution and no demonstrable market and asking for funding without being able to make a clear business case for value and what is in it for the bank. Every relationship should be transactional — they have a solution that we want to offer our customers. There must be value for both sides in the collaboration.
VB: How many pitches do you currently get from startups a month on average and what kinds of services and products are they usually pitching?
SG: We look at about 10 to 15 fintechs every month from across the globe, and themes vary, including artificial intelligence (AI), block chain, payment innovation, alternative lending products, alternative savings products, process efficiency.
VB: What kinds of (innovative) services and products is the bank looking for?
We are looking for anything that will enable us to service our customers better.