Fintech Startup Weekend Sydney: Creating a Complex Financial Product in 52 Hours.

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you how much I value technology in the financial sector. Those who know me best will tell you how I’m always trying to validate new ideas for payment gateways, high frequency market trading consoles and real estate platforms, just to name a few. I firmly believe that the financial technology industry both here, in sunny Sydney, and abroad is not just ripe for disruption, it’s already being disrupted.

This is, more or less, why I decided to attend the Fintech Startup Weekend. In it’s purest form, I attended because I believe that Sydney is a hub of some of the most forward thinking financial technology developers, designers and doers in the highly globalised industry. The opportunity to witness future leaders pitching ideas that have the potential to topple banks, change financial models and the alter the very experience we as consumers interact with cash is pretty mind-blowing stuff.

To exemplify the merit of the weekend, I want to share my personal experience. On Friday, I walked into 50 Bridge St with a concept. It was a pretty straightforward idea with little more than a few sketches in a notebook, vague market research, a domain name and a business model written on the back of a Victoria Bitter beer coaster. I pitched the idea alongside dozens of other enthusiasts and, much to my surprise, managed to attract a team with skill sets ranging from legal consultation, financial services, property development, financial planning and fund management.

Throughout the weekend we pivoted as every validating startup does. We shifted from a crowdfunding real estate model to a financial product that has the potential to allow the masses to afford property in the greatest city in the world. To cut a long story short, we created a mechanism that takes a traditional mortgage bond and combined it with a options contract. This created a strange bridge that allows the majority to afford a home through forced savings and a rather clever option product.

To be honest, we were pretty damn proud.

This brings me to the second reason why I attended Fintech Startup Weekend – to learn. While the team and I believe the idea has legs, whether or not it takes off is a very different story. This is due to the one simple fact; teamwork means everything. The dynamic, chemistry, diversity of skills and natural ability is what will make or break an idea. I was lucky that people saw opportunity in my idea and gambled on nothing but a 30 second elevator pitch. However, this is only one small piece of the puzzle; I was joined by people whom of which I consider far more intelligent than myself in their respected backgrounds. I realised that I cannot do everything on my own. It simply isn’t possible.

We were pushed for 52 hours to ensure we understood the problem that we were attempting to solve. Having built a startup in the financial services space only two years ago, I understand the unquestionable fact that validation is the key to success. What took me nearly 24 months, half a dozen international flights, countless hours of programming and ungodly amounts of coffee to validate my first startup, it took me 52 hours last weekend. That’s a figure that can’t be argued with.

I’ll conclude by saying a massive thanks to H2 Ventures, Stone and Chalk and Techstars for a tremendous 48 hours. For those who may want to take part in a Startup Weekend (or even start a business), here are a few pieces of advice that I cannot recommend enough:

  • Validate, validate, validate. Think you’ve validated enough? You’re wrong, get the f*ck back out in the real world and validate some more.
  • Feeling confident in your own abilities to run everything yourself? Don’t. You need people. Smart people. Hardworking people. Like minded people.
  • Never underestimate the value of someone who’s older and has more experience. Never assume they know less about the world in it’s current state. They know more than you and the fact that they’ve been succeeding or failing in business since before you we’re born makes them invaluable.
  • Communication is of paramount importance. Simplify your proposition and business model. People will never understand your idea as well as you do. If you you can explain your business to a small child or a canine then you’ve achieved this.

mattjones ()

Co-Founder and CTO of Mosaic.