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Fintech start-ups coy about asking for money at Wellington demo day

Monday 22nd May 2017

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Seven financial technology start-ups pitching ideas after a three-month accelerator programme drew a big crowd to their demonstration day in Wellington but were strangely coy in actually asking for capital despite two already pulling in revenue. 

The participants in the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator programme wooed more than 500 people at their demo day pitch on Friday, touting their burgeoning ideas as viable businesses. The fintech programme was the first of its kind, run through CreativeHQ's Lightning Lab, allowing participants to develop and validate their business ideas so they could be pitched to the start-up and investment community. State-owned lender Kiwibank sponsored the accelerator, which was co-funded by Callaghan Innovation and software developer Xero.

Callaghan chief executive Victoria Crone, who took over the Crown entity tasked with raising innovation in February, told the audience that a lot of New Zealand businesses aren't prepared for the wave of technological change taking place and that programmes such as the fintech accelerator and Callaghan's grants were there to help address that. 

"We do need to create a mindset, a new capability for New Zealand to break down barriers," Crone said. "Put your hand up when you need some support because there’s a lot of support in this system." 

Flatfish was generating monthly recurring revenue of $1,000, with 1,000 rental properties listed on a platform where property managers and/or landlords can communicate with their tenants to deal with maintenance issues. Chief executive Tal Meser told the audience the start-up has another 4,000 properties wait-listed and expects to generate $100,000 of annual recurring revenue by the end of the year, which would include a push across the Tasman. It would then seek more capital to explore breaking into the UK, with a goal of achieving $1 million of annual recurring revenue. 

Accounting Pod had more than 200 registered users of its accounting simulation education product, and co-founder XingDong Yan said the start-up projected 5,000 students would be using its platform within 12 months to generate annual revenue of $1 million. Accounting Pod wasn't looking to raise money yet, he said. 

Online business insurance broker Teddy was looking to displace existing, fee-charging insurance brokers and had several insurance firms already interested in selling products on its platform. Co-founder Calum MacLeod said Teddy would look to introduce robo-advice once it was legalised by the government in a review of financial adviser legislation. While the company wasn't raising money right now, it could in the months ahead, he said. 

Sharesies was another company that was keen on latching on to the advent of robo-advice. Chief executive Brooke Anderson told the audience that the investment platform would let people make regular small investments in a broad range of funds, giving them access to opportunities which typically have a minimum investment. The platform has 2,200 people waiting to join the beta site when it's launched in the next few weeks, and Anderson said it hopes to launch in Australia within 12 to 18 months. 

Other pitches came from Kiwibank team Wicket, whose research found people in the Millennial generation were an underserved market for life insurance due to the way firms market those products, and Liberac, which wanted to reduce the cost of remittances to the Pacific Islands but subsequently found there was no problem that needed fixing and is now looking at how the convergence of education and fintech products can benefit those communities. 

The National Account Registry saw John Hancock and Simon Hay build a digital identity bank account register for small businesses, and they are investigating how that platform can be used in New Zealand and overseas. 

(BusinessDesk receives assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover the commercialisation of innovation.)


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