“It was a very interesting day. We met many mentors from different environments that are connected to fintech industry – lawyers, investors, startup founders. We received valuable contacts as well as many useful comments on how to proceed further with our project. We are very happy. This is the first serious competition we’ve been taking part in. And we won! Of course, success of the business is not connected with success in competitions, so we are concentrating on building a sustainable business as well as commercialization and development of our system. We are planning to make our product available already this year,” says Martins Vaivars, co-founder and CEO of the Toneboard. Company has created the tool that uses speech recognition and an analytical capability to mine verbal interactions with loan applicants. It can make it possible in the future to get loans just with the help of conversation.
The event Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2017 is organized by Rietumu Bank in cooperation with Latvian Startup Association Startin.lv. Organizers received more than 50 applications from startup companies all around the world – US, Israel, Germany, all Baltic countries and even Africa. Seven projects were chosen as finalists - Crassula, Toneboard and ForexTeam (Latvia), Paytailor (Estonia), Welltrado (Lithuania), GetZuper (Germany) and Tap2Pay (Israel).
Team from Latvia - Crassula - has created a software API platform for building payment solutions and FinTech innovation. ForexTeam is free mobile app providing intraday trading signals for currencies with possibility to copy signals in user’s metatrader account. Paytailor is a mobile payment system, which makes mobile payments easy. Welltrado is an innovative alternative investment marketplace showing unique investment opportunities through emerging financial technology. GetZuper is a platform to create meaningful connections between people and their money. Tap2Pay is an online tool that enables payments via a favorite messenger. The customer receives an invoice to pay right inside a chat.
“We are happy that this competition is getting recognized internationally. Teams are ready to travel to Latvia just to spend the day with mentors and get recognition from industry experts. This fact proves that Latvia is becoming the centre of fintech,” says Member of the Boards of Latvian Startup Association Jekaterina Novicka.
These teams worked together with mentors for a day. They helped them to define product more precisely, discuss future development opportunities of the business model as well as get ready for pitching at the end of the day. Mentors were Valter Vohma and Henrik Trasberg from the law firm Hedman Partners, Alexandr Voloshin from Rietumu Bank, Cristobal Alonso from Startup Wise Guys, Martin Hendre from Tera Ventures and Andris K. Berzins from TechHub Rīga. There were also representatives from local fintech success stories among mentors - Martins Valters from Mintos as well as Liga Treiliha and Matiss Ansviesulis from Creamfinance.
“It is hard to create appropriate business model in fintech industry. The most important thing for the team working in the early stage startup company is to deal with all business challenges. For example, if you are creating product for payment proceeding, you will have to be able to proceed millions or even billions of payments to get profit. Also there should be huge investments made and creative approach to business. When I’m talking to teams, I always consider whether they could deal with all these challenges. Regarding the winning team – they have a huge potential for the exit and this was their main competitive advantage,” mentoring session is summarized by one of the keynote speakers and the co-founder of the company Creamfinance Matiss Ansviesulis.
“I was surprised by the quality of teams. There were many participants with good experience, clear vision and confidence. I think that they need little help in positioning their product as well as formulating the potential market. I hope that they received good advices here,” says keynote speaker and mentor Shaul Davis from UK Department of International Trade.
“There were presented good and interesting projects during the competition. I hope that they are going to succeed. Bank and fintech industry will have closer collaboration in future – that is opinion of Rietumu Bank. So we are going to take part in organizing and supporting similar events,” says Member of the Board and Vice President of Rietumu Bank Ilja Suharenko.
About the jury of competition
There were industry experts in jury - Deniss Filipovs from Bank of Latvia, Janis Janevics from Latvian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and Impramatur Capital, Janis Skutelis from FlyCap, Renats Lokomets from the Latvian Sartup Association Startin.LV, Matiss Ansviesulis from Creamfinance. The main prize – 5000 eur – was presented by main supporter of the competition and Member of the Board and Vice President of Rietumu Bank Ilja Suharenko. The second prize - opportunity to attend London FinTech Week 2017 – was presented by UK Department of International Trade and it’s representative Tiina – Maria Araja.