With Techquartier, a bridge between Germany and Italy

One of the innovation hubs with which we work with is Techquartier, located in Frankfurt. In this interview, the managing director Sebastian Shafer tells us about its activities with the startups and what he expects from the MoU signed with Fintech District last November, during the Salone dei Pagamenti.

What is Techquartier’s mission? what are your key values?

As an innovation hub, our mission at TechQuartier’s is to empower people with tools and technologies that will help them drive innovation. We believe entrepreneurship is the core competence of the 21st century, and our mission is to unleash these entrepreneurial forces through the most accessible and impactful innovation experience possible. Our key values are diversity, authenticity, curiosity and risk-taking, self-reinvention and adaptiveness, and most important of all, playfulness!

What activities do you offer for fintech startups?

We work closely with our partners – global financial institutions, consulting firms, universities, and even a football club – to co-create acceleration programs which fintech startups can access. These are free of charge, and no equity is taken. During these programs, which range from 3 days to 3 months, they meet with corporate decision-makers, investors, regulators, mentors and other fintech founders to validate their business model, go-to-market strategy and potentially, enter into collaboration with them. We also provide access to very affordable workspace in the heart of Frankfurt’s financial district, as well as to a growing number of international partner hubs.

What do you expect from the MoU with the Fintech District?

As with other international partners, we have very high expectations! The focus will be on action and tangible results. We want to be able, in a year from now, to clearly state examples of collaborations between our ecosystems, whether between corporates, startups, academics, experts or investors, Think visits, programs, events, proof of concepts, partnerships. We signed the MoU on the margins of the Salone dei Pagamenti, where I was talking this past November. My topic was on how ‘How Fintech Hubs’ collaboration can increase European competitiveness‘. I came back to Frankfurt excited about the openness and vision of the Italian stakeholders who shared the stage with me.

How do you consider the Italian fintech ecosystem? Are there any types of fintech startups that are of particular interest to you?

Milano, just like Frankfurt, is a relatively young ecosystem, one that is full of promise. There is talent, there are corporate partners and banks eager to work with startups, there is a strong base of SME (which in Germany we refer to as the Mittelstand), there is a lot of expertise (in the case of Milano, especially in the payments area.) In our opinion, the Italian Fintech scene appears ripe for rapid growth. In terms of Fintech areas of interest, we are especially interested in predictive solutions, beyond banking, payments, process automation, as well as authentification and fraud detection for banking. The biggest tech focus is on Big Data and Artifical intelligence.

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Blackfin Tech: interview with Julien Creuzé and Michele Foradori

At the end of September we hosted BlackFin Tech who met some startups from our community at our headquarter in via Sassetti. In the interview, Julien Creuzé and Michele Foradori (BlackFin Capital Partners), talk about what struck them and why the Italian fintech ecosystem is interesting.

What is BlackFin Tech and what does it do?

BlackFin Tech is the fintech-insurtech VC fund of BlackFin Capital Partners, an independent investment firm, established in 2009 and run by 5 partners: Laurent Bouyoux, Eric May, Bruno Rostain, Paul Mizrahi and Sabine Mathis. The core mission of BlackFin Tech is to support bold entrepreneurs aiming at shaping the new financial ecosystem. With a commitment from its LPs of over €180M, BlackFin targets European best-in-class ventures supporting their growth with a sound expertise in the financial and insurance sectors as well as a wide-ranging network across all major European Financial Institutions.

What motivated you to become a partner of the Fintech District and what do you expect from this agreement?

Blackfin’s DNA is that of a European fund and, among all the countries, Italy is one of those we want to follow in the front line. An initiative like that of the Fintech District is a sort of lens on the Italian fintech ecosystem that allows funds such as ours to create quick connections with the national business fabric. What do we expect from the Fintech District? We would like to be able to consider it as the key partner for making ourselves known in the market and at the same time a catalyst that supports us in creating a solid network with the main Italian investors, be they VC or business angels.

BlackFin Tech

What are the most interesting markets for you today?

So far, we have focused mainly on France, Germany, Benelux and Holland. Our goal is to open up to all European markets. Specifically Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, UK and Scandinavia

Why is the Italian fintech market particularly interesting for you?

Having not yet reached a level of maturity ‘like other European countries, the Italian market has, in our opinion, excellent potential for development and growth. Some Italian fintechs have already had great resonance at European level, attracting the attention of numerous investors and proving to be players who can compete at a European level. Also, for this reason, we are convinced that Italy is an absolutely relevant market for our purposes. Not only that, but the fact that Italy is still “barely beaten” by international investors makes it even more of an opportunity for BlackFin. It is therefore essential for us to position ourselves, both as a trusted partner of Italian fintech / insurtech and as a partner for their internationalization in Europe.

In the meetings held on September 26th at the Fintech District, what idea did you make of the Italian fintech ecosystem? What impressed you?

The meetings with some startups of your community at the District in recent weeks have confirmed what we already thought of the Italian market. It is not very mature but has great potential for growth. Talents and ideas are not lacking, but both the creation of an ecosystem and the arrival of capital are necessary. The positioning of BlackFin on the Italian market wants to be a stimulus and a signal for Italian fintech entrepreneurs.

Having said that, however, what will happen in Italy in the coming years remains decisive: the direction in which the country will go will tell us if a fintech ecosystem can really take off in Italy or not. At the moment it is still difficult to foresee this accurately and give an answer. On the day of the meetings held at Fintech District we were pleasantly impressed by the number of Fintech companies it succeeded in attracting, actually becoming the reference point for the Italian Fintech system. Of all the initiatives we interacted with, we were struck by the desire to create high value-added products / services which improve the end consumer experience, be it a person or a company.

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