I think we all can agree, Monday we were all a part of something exciting, and many of us felt that we were in on the ground floor of a dialogue that is just in its nascence. When Seth conceived of this idea, his vision was to get “Startup CEOs, policymakers and industry leaders” all together in one room to “define the future of financial services”. We may not have all have the same exact vision of the future, but I got the feeling we left the day with most of us agreeing on a many things as well. For instance: If we want to have successful innovative financial technology companies- delighting the customer (while staying fair & compliant) is the key to success. Financial inclusion for the underbanked and underserved is not just good for our society, it’s very good business, too. We also agreed that the conversation needs to keep happening and we all have a great appetite to learn from one another.
Let’s consider a bit more about who was in that packed room.
We have have had the opportunity to spend time with many of the most successful fintech CEOs in the country (by any measure: dollars raised, exits, customers served, greatest tech innovations, reputation in the industry), but also just as important to relevant conversations int space- founding members of the teams including heads of product, regulatory, communications, marketing and more.
The “industry leaders” in the room probably would never speak of themselves that way, but the participants some of the most engaged and powerful VC’s in the space, key technologists, widely followed influencers, and heads of innovation at the largest global financial institution that have ever gathered in such a setting.
Regulators & Policy Makers
I can speak for both of the former groups that such an opportunity to chat informally about our beloved industry with so many hardworking, thoughtful and curious folks from such organizations as FDIC, Treasury, Fed, DOC, the list goes on and on, has never existed for us.
For those regulators & policymakers who wish to lean in a bit deeper, I’m presenting below 10 ways to stay plugged-in to what is happening in Fintech startups. If you believe in a “give first” attitude and have further curiosity in the space, here are a few ways to stay involved:
- Twitter the best place to follow the ongoing conversation. Yes you can even join pseudonymously if you like and passively consume the content. Fintech influencers are curating the very best links and trends and they all think globally. You can also check out Twitter “lists” so you can see the streams of folks who are quite influential in the space. Here’s a 50 person list to get you started.
- Listen to podcasts, and maybe even offer to speak on one, or, suggest and introduce guest speakers to the producers. Brett King was in the house and he has the #1 Fintech radio show in the world! Another one of my favorites is the Andreesen Horowitz podcast.
- Join Angelist and start learning more about the companies that are working on these interesting problems. Every startup in the world that has customers or is raising money, you’ll find them here. For more consumer centric product-based startups, there is also no more engaged site than ProductHunt right now. Join that, too.
- Attend more meetups and events, obviously! Did you know that locally Bill McNulty of Capital One runs a 1,000+ person community called DC Metro FinTech Meetup that is one of the top 5 fintech meetups in the country? You can plan trips around fintech meetups and in other cities as well. Speaking as a former meetup organizer, we do this 100% for the love of community, and all of us have full time jobs that keep us very busy, so there isn’t always one planned. That said, the distribution for these groups is hard to beat- and you can always suggest topics for future meetups or even as to host & plan one by coordinating with the organizers.
- Join more linkedin groups and participate in the conversation. Groups can get very granular as well. Linkedin groups are very useful to promote events, ask questions, and find other interesting professionals who you can connect with. You can join as many as you’d like and filter your email alerts accordingly.
- Beef up your blog reading. Here is a huge list of blogs you can check out. You may have even met Chris Skinner Monday, who was in attendance- one of the most prolific fintech writers in the world.
- Find sub-topics that matter to you most and become a thought leader or an agitator. Do you have something to say about financial inclusion that no one was talking about? Think there is a huge opportunity for people to start government-facing startups? Cared that the crowd didn’t have enough women? Blogging short and informal notes about your ideas or experiences is so important, and you don’t have to be Keats either. Try writing posts for your organization, or, maybe the easiest start is to publish small posts on Linkedin (with all the appropriate disclaimers of course). Blogging will get you to get a following little by little, and on Linkedin you already have hundreds of connections who will see it day one.
- Reach out cold to people you are interested in meeting and ask them for coffee. They will be receptive. Probably 75% of the people in that room were there because Seth cold emailed them (and who was ignoring an email from Sfirstname.lastname@example.org anyway!). Emails for startups and VC’s are pretty easy to find, and here’s a free tool you can use that makes it even easier.
- Offer to mentor at fintech accelerators. Besides 1776, you can get in touch with fintech specific Accelerators & incubators for your next trip to NYC, SF or even London as well. If you’re lucky with timing, they might have portfolio companies in residence and in-program so you can meet many teams in person at one time who are in a very intense and open learning environment. Also, their program management is usually very easy to get in touch with as well and receptive. I just happen to run the NYC branch of the leading global fintech accelerator myself 😉 I’ll personally be looking to do panels, find great speakers for master classes and even plan field trips to DC. Get in touch!
- Stay in touch with Seth. As he mentioned, his hope is to do another DFR next year, but he needs your feedback, ideas and contacts all year long. There is no one trying to further this conversation or bridge these three types of professionals they way he is. Hopefully, now you have a few new tools or ideas to get even more relevant and email him about!
Hope this helps!