Soisy & Swascan: two Italian fintechs accelerating with Startupbootcamp

Soisy and Swascan, two startups who’ve just concluded three intense months of acceleration at the Startupbootcamp FinTech & CyberSecurity Program in Amsterdam are Italian, and from our community! As we were curious about their experiences in the program, we caught up with them once they returned to Italy. How would they describe their 13-week journey in Amsterdam? What were their biggest highlights? Read on to find out!

But first, here’s a bit of context on Startupbootcamp, the global accelerator for startups. And who better to give us a closer look than Joost Bergen, the Managing Director & Co-founder of the Startupbootcamp FinTech Program in Amsterdam. Here’s what he had to say

1) What makes Startupbootcamp’s FinTech & CyberSecurity program unique?

Startupbootcamp is the world’s largest network of multi-corporate backed accelerators that helps startups scale internationally. Currently, we run over 20 industry-focused programs across 22 cities, worldwide. Specifically, in our FinTech & CyberSecurity programs, we empower innovation and facilitate effective collaboration between startups and corporates, coming from the banking, insurance and regulatory sector.

To date, we’ve worked with over 700+ startups and counting, across all the different programs and in the last 7 years, our FinTech-focused programs have been active in 7 cities across the globe.

What makes us unique is the way we work with the startups that enter our programs. Our focus is always two-fold: Firstly, we help them define their value proposition in the best and most precise way possible; Secondly, we connect them to potential partners, and support them in a growth process that makes them prepared to present themselves to potential investors.

All our accelerator programs conclude with a Demo Day. This is an event during which startups get to pitch their progress and solutions to over 300+ people. Of course, their journey with SBC doesn’t end there – after they ‘graduate’ from our accelerator programs, they join ‘Startupbootcamp NXT’ support program, where they’ll remain in our global ecosystem and are able to benefit from the various opportunities that are offered.

In 2018, relay, one of the startups we worked with 5 years ago, was acquired for 3 million Euros. We’re all really proud to have been part of their journey, from the early stages. What’s more, together with the other players in the Amsterdam FinTech ecosystem, we’re glad Amsterdam is considered as the main Startup hub in mainland Europe.

2) How do you select the startups that will participate in the program?

We look at the team, and then the team and, thirdly … the team. It is clear that for us the team is the most crucial element in our selection process. We select startups with a good and balanced team, with people from different fields working in synergy. The ideas and technologies used are also very important.

3) Looking at the FinTech startup ecosystem, what are the key challenges you’ve seen?

Many startups do not have a value proposition that is recognizable in the market. Often the ideas they pursue aren’t aligned with the needs of the market. Funding is another challenge that startups in this sector grapple with – they often don’t know how to raise adequate funds to move from idea to a market-ready product or service.

4) In the current international, economic context, what should a startup do to stand out?

For a startup, it is very important to know how to propose concrete technologies and solutions that can solve the problems of their potential customers or partners, like the big banks and financial institutions. It is essential to introduce yourself by clearly explaining what you do and what impact your business will have on end customers and on the financial and operational efficiency of the prospect partner and their end clients.

Essentially, a startup must be able to clearly explain the key benefits their product/solution offers, and what makes them unique compared to competitors. To be able to collaborate with banks and other key players in the financial sector they must also be able to demonstrate how they’ll be able to positively impact their respective businesses.

5) What are the top 3 tips you have for startups that are about to join SBC’s programs?

Be clear on the following:

– what is the problem you’re trying to solve?

– why is your product/solution what the market needs?

– what value do you bring to the market?

During the program, each startup will have the opportunity to better articulate their value proposition and learn how to explain why they are unique. Only 2% of startups who apply become part of the program. These are the ones that have the most balanced and motivated team and the clearest ideas on how to put themselves forward on the market.

Startupbootcamp according to Soisy

Let’s hear what Andrea Sandro has to say. He is the Product Development and Founder of Soisy together with Pietro Cesati and Marco Anzelmo. This startup is a peer to peer lending platform where everyone can take out a loan in order to purchase products in physical or online shops and has recently tied up a record crowdfunding campaign with another member of our community: 200Crowd.

1) How would you describe the Startupbootcamp experience to a startup that is interested in taking part in the next edition?

Startupbootcamp is a vortex that drains so much of your energy and at the same time infuses you with the same amount. It is a charge of pure adrenaline diluted in 3 very intense months. It is a huge network of people that we imagine as a great river, where you have the opportunity to capture the “fish” you want. In such abundance, the challenge is to balance the divergent phase with the convergent phase. It is necessary to really understand what you need. If you have a problem, however, you are sure that somewhere in that river will help you find the ideal solution.

2) What would you recommend to a startup in order to maximize the advantages of participating in the acceleration program?

Keep in mind what you are looking for and why you are participating in the program. Goals that are too general to be able to “grow” or “accelerate” are likely to generate unpleasant surprises. Once you have been selected you need to focus your resources on identifying the most promising opportunities you can find amongst the many that arise during the three months as they are all interesting but at the same time also distracting.

3) What should be expected and what should not be expected from the acceleration program?

What to expect: lots of networking, an excellent training on pitch and presence on stage, high-quality workshops and access to a network of corporate partners.

Don’t expect all your problems to be solved within those 3 months – during the accelerator, you will be laying down the foundations for growth, and as a company, you have to then spend the next months exploring this further

4) Has this experience changed your plans for the coming years?

We now better understand where it makes more sense to focus our resources. It was also an opportunity to validate, review and refine some of the internal processes of discovery and product design.

5) Can you list 3 things that you are bringing home after the acceleration program?

A network of high-value contacts, contacts for future investment rounds or partnerships, more awareness about our product and how to develop it.

Startupbootcamp according to Swascan

For Swascan these also have been three intense and fruitful months. Co-Founder Pierguido Iezzi tells us about them. Swascan is the first CyberSecurity platform in Cloud, SaaS & AMP, Pay for Use that helps companies identify, analyze and solve the vulnerabilities related to websites, web apps, networks and source code.

1) How would you describe the Startupbootcamp experience to a startup that is interested in participating in the next edition?

The program was very intense. It allowed us to look at our CyberSecurity Testing platform from every point of view, understand strengths and weaknesses, understand how to value the former and intervene on the latter. This has contributed to both the personal and business growth of the team.

2) What would you recommend to a startup in order to maximize the advantages in participating in the acceleration program?

To receive a maximum return in terms of expertise it is important to have your goals and priorities clear in mind. Do you want to carry out a first pilot project of your solution? Do you want to check if the target you are addressing is correct? Swascan’s solutions, for example, have been addressed to both a Large Account and an SME audience. Do you want to understand if the commercial strategy is correct and if there can be complementary channels? Do you have to structure a financial model that guarantees sustainability?

3) What should be expected and what should not be expected from the acceleration program?

It is an excellent moment of self-analysis and comparison with professionals who provide an external point of view to the project. Models and structures are provided that can be applied to the components of the business. One should not expect indications to be given or decisions are taken on behalf of the entrepreneur. SBC provides the tools and the vision to do it. For Swascan, expectations were met: we were able to convey our identity as a dynamic platform of Security Testing through a qualified and highly specialized network.

4) Has this experience changed your plans for the coming years?

Startupbootcamp has given us the opportunity to access some international contacts interested in the solution, now we are following these up by defining the subsequent commercial strategies. We are also talking with some investment funds interested in the rounds we are going to open to ensure an even faster international growth.

5) Can you list 3 things that you have brought home with you after the acceleration program?

Training: thanks to SBC we managed to get an overview of our IT security platform adding key elements for correct positioning.

Networking: getting in touch with decision makers and prominent people of the CyberSecurity sector has allowed us to widen our horizons and customize the offering to include the needs of larger accounts.

International vision: operating with an international perspective, Swascan offers its services through qualified partners all over the world and aims to expand its network more and more.

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The perfect startup pitch according to Maurizio La Cava

An investor pitch is not just any kind of pitch. It has specific characteristics and, often, also the “power” to decide the success or failure of an entrepreneurial initiative. That’s why, for the next “Talking Heads” appointment on March 21st, we invited Maurizio La Cava, CEO & Founder of MLC Presentation Design and Startup Pitch Strategist. Maurizio created the Investor Pitch Canvas: a tool to create the perfect investor pitch presentation. We interviewed him to get some advice in advance.

To take part in the event sign up here!

A definition of the Lean Presentation Design method and its distinctive properties

You know the feeling when you are starring at the white slide in PowerPoint not knowing what to do and how to position elements in order to maximize the visual effectiveness? Often it happens you do not know what information to include and in which order to present it. Unfortunately, you are always in a rush as presentations are done last minute.
Normally, we start by choosing fonts and colours that we like. The next step is combining them as we like and creating layouts that look beautiful and effective to us. But are you sure that a slide that you think is well done is actually effective on your audience?
Lean Presentation Design is a methodology that changes the way in which presentations are created. With the Lean Presentation design, you’ll change your approach from creatively designing slides to logically solving layouts. Thanks to the Lean Presentation Design, anyone, even less creative people, can build an effective presentation by logically solving layouts.

Who is this method for? Is a special background necessary to learn and apply it?

Lean Presentation Design is a problem-solving method for making objectively effective presentations. It is specifically dedicated to non-creative people who need to communicate their projects in a persuasive way but does not have a creative background.

What are the main criteria with which you evaluate the effectiveness of a presentation?

In my opinion, a presentation is a dialogue between a speaker and her audience, with a specific objective. A presentation is a means that allows to communicate ideas to others and push those who listen to do something they would have not normally done without the presentation.

Why is it important for a startup to know how to make effective presentations? What specific characteristics should these have?

Funding is essential for startups. To explain an entrepreneurial idea and get it to be financed, the founder must be able to keep investors interested and persuade them to invest. An investor pitch is an “extreme” presentation because there is little time available and the stakes are often very high.

What specific characteristics must an investor pitch have?

Unlike many presentations related to more structured realities, the investor pitch, to be successful, needs a very specific communication logic. What to say and what not to say? In which order is it better to communicate information to attract investors attention? In my opinion, there is a logical, benchmarked scheme of information that answers these questions: the Investor Pitch Canvas.

Three mistakes not to be committed when preparing a presentation

  1. Focus on beauty and not on effectiveness.
  2. Do not have a well-structured communication flow.
  3. Use a self-standing presentation for a speech that brings people to read instead of listening.

In the financial sector, must presentations have specific characteristics? Are there any “winning” trends?

A presentation is like a tailored suit, it must be sewn onto a specific audience. There are communication strategies that can enhance the effectiveness of each presentation but, beyond the graphics, a good presentation is the result of a useful dialogue between people.

Presentation design: Italy vs the world. How much is known and considered?

Like many other cases, the United States has played a first mover role. Some of the best-known references are Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, authors of multiple publications on the subject, including Slideology and Presentation Zen. Observing those who move first allows us to learn faster and gives us the opportunity to create something truly innovative. Lean Presentation Design is the first “made in Italy” methodology exported abroad that has the ambition to make presentation design accessible to everybody, even non-designers.

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