St. Louis, in American history, is known as the gateway to the new territory most famously embodied in the Gateway Arch. It feels appropriate that SixThirty, a proud MEDICI partner and FinTech seed fund and go-to-market program, has taken and entered a new level for matching financial services incumbents and promising startups.
I caught up with Atul Kamra, SixThirty’s Managing Partner, to understand the rationale behind their recent partnership announcement. You can read the entire press release at the end of the article. We see a lot of innovation programs, accelerators, and incubators; what I like the most about SixThirty’s approach is the focus on execution and implementation. You’ll see this emphasized by Atul, and in a world of ‘money raised = success,’ it’s nice to see a team focused on just getting it done.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Patrick Rivenbark: How is this partnership deal and what you’re creating differentiating you from these well-known programs like TechStars, Y Combinator, or 500 startups?
Atul Kamra: We consider ourselves the leading – if not one of the leading – FinTech seed fund and business development programs in the world. I think the thing that differentiates SixThirty the most (and has consistently differentiated us) is the willingness of our corporate partners, mentors, and senior executives to actually work in the trenches with our portfolio company founders and CEOs.
This is not about sprinkling fairy dust or about window shopping. When you look at leaders at Reinsurance Group of America (RGA), World Wide Technologies (WWT), BNY Mellon Pershing, or Edward Jones, their executives are integral to the (SixThirty’s) process of building a pipeline, evaluating the pipeline, selecting, and investing. Their leaders and high-potential talent engage with us in mentoring portfolio companies, refining how they go to market. And if appropriate, they absorb that innovation or leverage their buying power and use these ideas in their businesses or with their own customers & clients in the B2B space.
This reinforces and deepens that conviction and ability to execute on the on behalf of our portfolio. At the end of the day, we’re in the business of making the most promising FinTech ideas go from great ideas into great companies. It’s about that collaboration and the work in the trenches that differentiates us.
PR: How does this change your selection process going forward?
AK: Over the years, we’ve been able to attract more mature ideas to invest in the late seed, pre-A, and A stage, and that strengthens our ability to attract the most promising ones. We work across the FinTech/InsurTech sectors, and bringing in more, diverse players actually shines a light on an idea for the other partners around the table. In many ways, bringing World Wide Technology (WWT), Detalus, Enterprise Bank, RGA, and the Bank of New York Mellon – Pershing to the table increases the value that our partners get from each other.
When you look at finance, insurance, and the health space, almost all the incumbents are staring at the same data set in trying to serve their customers better. An example: life events – all of them are very interested in life events and each of them comes to the events with different solutions. Our partners and portfolio companies hear the perspective of each (sub) industry and how they’re approaching customers’ life events. This just opens your eyes to what you’ve been doing and creates the opportunity for a more holistic view of how to serve the customer versus just bringing a point solution. It strengthens our ability to evaluate ideas as well as the understanding of our corporate partners and how they can collaborate to advance their client experience.
The other thing I’d say, from a corporate partner standpoint, is that if you look at WWT, RGA, Mastercard, or Bank of New York Mellon Pershing – they all have a global footprint. They have global ambitions and they have global and regional customers. This strengthens our ability to attract portfolio companies and entrepreneurs from all over the world, as well as better position and engage the regional businesses of our partners. That’s an interesting facet for SixThirty.
PR: What challenges in the go-to-market strategy in the past years drove you to want deeper, integration partners? Does it actually enable or does it at all enable you to invest in companies you wouldn’t have felt ready to help in the past?
AK: Yes and no. Bringing someone like WWT to the table is a fantastic differentiation to combine our go-to-market program with WWT’s advanced technology center, which is a secure experimentation incubator for an idea or proofs-of-concept for incumbents. This combination gives us phenomenal capabilities to execute and, therefore, attract the most promising ideas from all over the world.
What’s always on my mind is the fact that time is the biggest constraint we have in the startup and collaboration space with incumbents. Our partners are force multipliers which, ultimately, accelerate relationships and reduce the time-to-value for our portfolio companies and for them (incumbents).
Think about RGA, they insure some of the world’s largest insurance companies and they bring that network to the table. If you look at Bank of NY Mellon – Pershing, they are the leading clearing providers for the broker-dealers and leading custodian for RIAs. They not only bring their own ambitions to innovate but also the ambition of their clients and customer. Similar to WWT, they serve *Fortune *200 companies who want to better serve their customers. Detalus and Enterprise Bank enable us to help the sub-$10 billion bank and credit union market, which is a huge opportunity. Our partners bring an understanding of adoption issues for our entrepreneurs. They (can) share the barriers to entry in their organization (and industry) along with key adoption and integration drivers (and constraints). Bringing that visibility to an entrepreneur enables a more precise go-to-market strategy.
Finally, our partners’ leadership engagement with these young companies is critical. Our entrepreneurs and partners are ready to work on real solutions, not just talk about them or ‘window shop.’ Optimally use the most constrained commodity we have which is time – we think that this creates a real distance between us and any other program in the seed/pre-A/A space.
PR: Thanks for the time, Atul. We know it’s precious!
AK: Thank you. I enjoyed it!
SixThirty Welcomes New Partners
BNY Mellon’s Pershing, Detalus, Enterprise Bank & Trust and World Wide Technology Join SixThirty’s Business Development Program for Global FinTech Startups
**ST. LOUIS, March 22, 2018 – **SixThirty, a global financial technology (FinTech) venture firm based in St. Louis, today announced that it has reached agreements with, BNY Mellon’s Pershing, Detalus, Enterprise Bank & Trust and World Wide Technology to join its roster of premier global financial services and technology partners.
SixThirty invests up to $250,000 (with the potential for follow-on investments) in select late seed-stage B2B FinTech startups that have a working product and are poised for growth. In concert with the investments, SixThirty provides its portfolio companies with an eight-week business development and go-to-market program.
As part of the program, leaders from BNY Mellon’s Pershing, Detalus, Enterprise Bank, and World Wide Technology will mentor SixThirty portfolio startups on topics ranging from sales, design, channel partnerships, vendor management due diligence, pricing, and technology, with each serving as a “force multiplier” of exposure. They join a growing group of SixThirty partners including UMB, Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) and State Farm.
In partnering with SixThirty, incumbents gain an understanding of emerging technology and business models in the FinTech space, while also having the opportunity to work side-by-side with the selected entrepreneurs for the SixThirty program. By offering mentorship and direction, they help guide SixThirty portfolio companies in their go-to-market strategy.
“We are thrilled to welcome globally recognized financial services leaders to our dynamic and like-minded group of partners at SixThirty,” said Atul Kamra, Managing Partner at SixThirty. “As we progress from the era of disruption to the era of collaboration in FinTech, our ability to build an ecosystem that connects startups with established financial services and technology standard-bearers provides entrepreneurs with invaluable and transformative mentorship while allowing our partners to securely experiment with and absorb innovative new technologies.”
SixThirty, which has 34 companies in its global portfolio – with solutions spanning banking technology, insurance, wealth management, lending, payments, risk, compliance, blockchain, security, and fraud – will kick off its Spring 2018 Business Development Program on April 17, 2018.
SixThirty is a global FinTech venture fund that works with financial technology-based startups and provides them with mentorship and connections to the leading these organizations join SixThirty’s Investment Committee which evaluates the C-Level executives from investment pipeline and selects FinTech startups to invest in financial services companies in the country. The startups receive up to a $250,000 investment in exchange for a negotiated percentage of equity. SixThirty’s portfolio companies receive individualized attention. The commitment of mentors and partners to work in the trenches with founders on their business models and accelerate their commercialization continues to be a differentiator for SixThirty. For more information please visit www.sixthirty.co.
Contact: Netanel Spero, email@example.com, 212-279-3115