Earlier this week we looked at some of the accelerator programs that are focused on the FinTech space. We have now come up with a list of incubators around the world that are helping entrepreneurs to build their business. Because of the tremendous amount of startup activity, there seems to be some overlap between accelerators and incubators. Some people use the term incubator and accelerator interchangeably and that is not right. There are differences in the way these two are operated. For e.g., an accelerator typically selects a startup (or a bunch of startups) and works closely with them for a defined period of time (about 8 weeks to 4-5 months), while an incubator doesn't work like that most of the times. However, due to the optimism and increase in the number of entrepreneurial ventures that are being rolled out, some incubators are now changing that norm and are holding a cut-off point or a review point anywhere between 6 months to 1 year where they check the progress of the project and decide on providing further support.
According to Forbes, an incubator is physically locating your business in one central work space with many other startup companies. In many cases, the startups in these incubators can all be venture funded by the same investor group. You can stay in the space as long as you need to, or until your business has grown to the scale it needs to relocate to its own space. We tried to carefully evaluate multiple incubators and have built a list below. Incubators that guide startups or ideas into a marketable business and have some exposure to the FinTech space.
Founder Institute (FI) is an early stage incubator that has established its presence in 45 countries. They run their incubator programs in multiple cities in the 45 countries. They also claim that around 80% success of its startup graduates. Unlike many other incubators, FI takes a fee from applying graduates, profiles them and upon selection for the program, the founder needs to further pay some fees to attend the 4-month program. The founders are required to contribute warrants of a certain percentage to the ‘Shared Liquidity Pool’, 30% of which is shared with the graduates of the particular program. Some of the FinTech startups from this program are Peerby, RealtyMogul, and Zipmark.
Startup Weekends, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, are 54-hour events starting with Friday night pitches that end with Sunday night demos and presentations. It provides a platform for collaboration between like-minded individuals, for talks by industry leaders, and provides feedback. They have done over 1,500 events in 726 countries covering more than 13,000 startups.
Main Incubator was formed in 2013 and is run in partnership with Commerzbank in Germany. The program works by accepting invitations from startups, upon selection the terms and conditions are set for the startups to enter the program. After 4-5 months of the initial phase where the team starts building their product with the support (VC Funding, office space, and expert know-how) from the incubator, the investment committee would review the status and decide on further funding.
HitFox – FinLeap:
FinLeap was launched as a FinTech incubator by HitFox in Dec-2014. HitFox was previously involved in building startups in the area of Big Data and Adtech. Savedo, BillFront, Valendo, financeAds, Institut für transparenz, Clark, and FinReach are the startups currently in its incubator. They provide development and regulatory support, seed funding, network, and finance expertise to the startups.
Mincubator is Romania based incubator whose focus is on e-Commerce and mobile services and applications. The ‘M’ in Mincubator stands for Mediafax Group, a leading media platform in Romania. Though they provide office space in Romania, it is not a necessary requirement for companies to be working only from their office or from the same country too.
Yodlee – Ynext incubator:
Yodlee provides Ynext as a 6-month incubator for startups. The features that it provides are – access to Yodlee platform, guidance & assistance, participation in Silicon Valley boot camps, demo day to present the startup to select investors. Accredify, DRAFT, Evolved Bookkeeping, Fidor US, Roostify, Telito, Voatz are 8 startups that were unveiled in their May 2015 Demo Day
Eastern Bank – Eastern Labs:
Eastern Labs lets people build their startups, and upon successful completion, they are spun off the lab to work as a separate entity. However, the members of the labs are bank employees or people hired as employees for the labs based on the idea/prototype they submit to the bank.
Anthemis Group – Anthemis Foundry:
Anthemis Foundry is a design focused incubator of the Anthemis Group, an investment and advisory firm in the financial technology space. The Foundry believes in focusing on some chosen projects at one time rather than selecting batches of startups and having a fixed schedule. Some of its portfolio companies are Atom, Azimo, Betterment, Currency Cloud, Fidor Bank, Moven, etc.
Bank Leumi – Elevator:
Bank Leumi, an Israeli Bank has made a strategic partnership with Elevator Fund to enable its FinTech companies to work directly with Leumi executives who provide guidance for the startups to build their products and also let them use the bank as a beta site
Innotribe is supported by SWIFT and was launched in 2009. It organizes startup challenges every year spanning EMEA, Americas, and APAC. The 2015 Startup Challenge event was held in London, New York, Cape Town, and Singapore. The event was open for both early stage and growth stage startups at each location. Winners at each location would be hosted at Sibos, Singapore for the Startup Challenge 2015 Finale. Early stage startups would be required to pitch their idea to a large audience of decision makers of the financial services world while growth stage startups would host exhibition booths and provide live demos for their products. The number of startups that participated at these events has been increasing YoY. 2011 witnessed 9 startups, 2012-15, 2013-38, 2014-45, and 2015-60 startups participated in the Startup Challenge event.
Sponsors for the event were: HP, Invest Northern Ireland, Level39, Deutsche Bank, Luxembourg for Finance, Wells Fargo, and SWIFT
Tech City UK:
Tech City UK provides a platform for digital technology businesses to be established in the UK. They provide support for startups, established businesses, and budding entrepreneurs. As part of its goal to support new business idea/entrepreneurs, they have a program – Digital Business Academy, in partnership with Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London and digital skills experts, Founder Centric. They provide the know-how for a digital business that helps one to start, grow or join a digital business. Another program, Future Fifty, supports 50 UK-based companies to scale their business.
The Icehouse is a New Zealand based organization which is not exactly into providing incubator programs, but they conduct events, workshops and programs that enable SMEs and startups to grow their business into international standards.
While these are some of the leading incubators, the concept of co-creation or co-development is seeing a huge uptick with corporates developing innovation labs or supporting external labs, entrepreneurs giving back to the startup system by developing nonprofit models where startups can look for education or networking. We plan to cover more of such concepts in the near future.