What happened in Vegas…
I just returned home from several exciting days in Las Vegas for Money 20/20, where a collection of more than 10,000 attendees – from across of the fintech ecosystem – came together to discuss the latest and greatest in payments and financial services. Like everything in Vegas, it was massive and it was awesome. Most importantly, it was a great opportunity to connect and reconnect with the entrepreneurs and companies that are making big things happen right now.
Money 20/20 gave us a chance to formally introduce Capital One Growth Ventures to the fintech community and share our vision for what it means to invest strategically.
I spoke on a panel with fellow investors where we discussed, and sometimes debated, the value of corporate VCs, how they fit into the financing process, and the importance of cultural alignment when engaging in strategic investments. I am always a bit surprised to hear people raise questions about the value that corporate VCs offer and question whether the ‘corporate’ dimension brings with it too many rules and rigid ways of thinking that would stifle innovation. From my personal experience as an entrepreneur working with Capital One, I can answer that with an emphatic ‘no.’ Capital One and Capital One Growth Ventures were built through the lens of a startup – asking the question “What problem are we trying to solve and what is the best way to solve it?” That spirit continues to drive our evolution today.
Given that I was on the other side of the table as the CEO of my own startup, Bundle, I remember the mix of excitement, anxiety and doubt leading a new business can bring. You have a great concept that you believe in but you need a viable way to test and scale it, you’re looking for a partner you can trust that also trusts you in return, and you’re eager to get to the next step. It is not for the faint of heart, and you have to be thoughtful about who you choose to support your vision.
While at Money 20/20, my colleague Lauren and I sat down with well-known fintech advisor and innovator JP Nicols. Together, we discussed some of the findings from our inaugural Startup Barometer survey, which asked 151 tech startup owners and decision-makers about how they’re faring and what they need most to succeed. When we asked these entrepreneurs what they expect when they work with an investor, the most common responses were commercial relationships (69.5%) and connections to a broader network of experts and resources (61.6%). At Capital One Growth Ventures, access to different lines of business within Capital One is central to our approach and can open up a world of new opportunities for both the startups and Capital One customers.
When we invest, our primary goal is to help startups gain traction, evolve their ideas and, in doing so, deliver breakthrough capabilities for Capital One and delightful experiences for our customers. The Growth Ventures team finds great value in the interaction itself, where we are able to explore new ideas and learn alongside these talented entrepreneurs and innovators. Whether it is in the payments space, the security space, or when dealing with big data, we think through how we can create value for all involved.
Money 20/20 was a fantastic experience and its size and scale are a testament to the vitality of the fintech community right now. Conferences and major events that bring together thousands of companies create invaluable opportunities to start and sustain a larger conversation about what we are doing, how we can do it better, and where we’re headed. For us, what happened in Vegas will definitely not stay in Vegas. The atmosphere and the energy reinforce for me what an exciting time it is to be working in the fintech industry.