This week we were excited to kick off the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator Market Validation Course, with inductions across both Auckland and Wellington. It was great to have the chance to meet participating teams at the GridAKL on Monday and Creative HQ on Tuesday, then spend the day with them, learning the basics of Market Validation and setting goals with organisers, Jeff Mann (previous Programme Director of Lightning Lab Auckland), and Natalie Robinson.
“Our mission with this course is to shift the way teams think about building their startup, from the ‘build a product, then put it in front of users’ approach, to asking users about their problems, finding the one worth solving and then, with their help, building a great solution,” says Jeff.
Market Validation Course Induction
Talking to the Customer
Week one’s focus was to help participants understand why it’s important to do market validation and start to conduct customer interviews. Already, we can see that teams within the course are starting to appreciate the depth of knowledge and insights that can be gained from asking people to talk about their specific problems.
“It’s a jaw dropping moment when you realise the basis to building a highly successful product is actually only ever about listening to customers and solving their problems,” says Jeff Mann.
Although applications for the programme are still open, we’ve found some pretty spectacular teams. “I am seriously impressed by the quality of teams on this program and the types of problems that are being addressed. We have high hopes that with the right approach there are a number of founders that will go on to build something pretty epic in the Fintech space,” says Natalie Robinson.
If you want to conduct your own Customer Interviews, but don’t know where to start, check out this helpful intro blog post from our friend Justin Wilcox.
Sonja, Leighton and John from Sharesies
One of those teams, Wellington-based Sharesies, is a mix of Kiwibank staff and friends. They are hoping to build a platform that allows people to pool funds and invest in a high growth portfolio. The ‘Powershop of investment’, their original idea came from their insight working within Kiwibank and the solution is inspired by team member, Leighton Robert’s, private group fund.
“For the last 10 years, a group of 15 friends and family members have been investing around $50/week in a shared fund. When there’s enough money in it, we invest,” explains Leighton.
With a the rise in property prices around New Zealand making it hard for many people to afford their first home, Leighton believe that Sharesies will give that portion of Kiwis a way to increase their net worth. “At the moment, interest rates are so low, but it’s hard to get into property because of the prices, which means that your money isn’t working for you.”
Sharesies team member Sonja has a background in startups, working at Xero, then in reward programme company Collect, before moving to Kiwibank. She’s always wanted to start her own company, and is currently in the Market Validation team at Kiwibank.
“We entered the course to learn if we have the discipline it takes to continue into the Accelerator programme.”
The Market Validation course will run until December 12th, where teams will meet again in Wellington to demonstrate their learnings to the organising team and interview for selection into the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator programme. Remember, you’re still eligible to apply for and get into the programme even if you aren’t a part of the Market Validation course! Get your applications in now, before the 2 December deadline.