8

February


KFA Team

And They're Off: KFA Launch Event

It’s kickoff! Yesterday was our launch event for KFA! Participants were warmly welcomed and given their first opportunity to meet KFA’s sponsors and partners. There was a great consensus about KFA’s startups potential, along with a common vision in making New Zealand, and specifically Wellington, a FinTech hub on the global stage.

Kristen Lunman gave an overview of KFA’s goal of stimulating FinTech and innovative tech startups in New Zealand. She then introduced KFA’s unique model, which allows corporates to be involved with the FinTech startups, ultimately benefiting investors, sponsors and participants all round.

Thanks to Shawn O’Keefe  for this great pic of Kristen.

Kiwibank was next to the stage. Peter Fletcher-Dobson discussed how Kiwibank was born 40 years ago to disrupt the banking industry and make Kiwi’s lives better off.

“Our mission matches the goal of FinTech, including the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator. It’s about disrupting the financial industry in order to help people”, Peter stated.

“You couldn’t ask for a better platform. The programme will be a fantastic experience with a wonderful crew, high calibre mentors and great business partners who are looking to give back and help you with your exciting journey,” Peter told the participants.

Mark Stephen from Kiwibank then tag teamed in. He offered up some words of wisdom to inspire the KFA cohort.

“You can’t anticipate where you’ll end up at the end so don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself. Draw on the expertise and insight around you…make full use of the resources uniquely available to you, including the mentors.”

“We want this to be extraordinarily successful…from a Kiwibank point of view we’re hoping you’ll be challenged…we’ll be on a shared learning journey too, so we’re hugely excited for the opportunities ahead,” Mark enthusiastically said.

Rod Drury, CEO of Xero was next up. He suggested that the KFA accelerator cohort could benefit from distribution assistance from the excellent channels Xero has already built in major banks in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and even the US.

“We’re hoping you’ll build some really exciting apps that we can help you take to market. We’re pushing a lot of banks to open great APIs…we don’t see FinTech in competition with banking, these are fantastic partnering opportunities and this is the message we want out there,” Rod commented.

When asked what his hope for KFA was, Rod reiterated his expressed interest in “really cool little companies that can leverage the channels that we’ve built. We’d love to see more New Zealand companies working alongside us to put NZ FinTech technology on the map.”

And with that Richard Perry from Callaghan Innovation made his way to the stage. He sees a lot of potential in the KFA teams and opportunities for New Zealand to position itself on the global market.

“It’s really important to us to see this venture grow and be successful…the tech sector is an important part of the New Zealand economy,” Richard explained.

His advice to the KFA teams was also an important saying to those at Callaghan Innovation. Translated from Maori it was to “Explore the unknown in pursuit of excellence”.

Kyra Coombe from Mastercard was next in the lineup. She emphasised that Mastercard is a technology company meaning they “really appreciate how important it is to grow the FinTech eco-system so that we all win”.

Finishing off our fantastic group of speakers, we were privileged to have the Hon. Minister Paul Goldsmith along.

“New Zealand is an innovative country and economy, but while we’re excellent at coming up with ideas, we sometimes struggle in converting them into large, successful businesses. The exact purpose of the KFA is to translate those ideas into a great business.”

Thanks to Liberac for this fab picture of them and Minister Goldsmith.

He finished with some great words of wisdom for the KFA teams.

“Never lose sight of the fact that you’ll only succeed if you actually give people what they want - everyday people want something more so deliver them something more, something better.”

The KFA teams then took turns delivering the pitches they had been hard at work constructing and the event ended with a well deserved drink and chats between the KFA teams and the esteemed guests.