Kristen Lunman

So You Wanna Get Into FinTech?


Ok, you’ve heard of FinTech, that lovely portmanteau of financial technology. You know it’s a growing industry that uses innovative technology to design and deliver financial services and products from lending and financial advice to investment management and payments. And you’ve got a good idea and you want to get started in making this idea a reality. Where do you start? The KFA is here to help. Let’s get cracking.

Focus + passion + good idea = awesome FinTech potential

I’m a big believer in passion when it comes to the success of a company, FinTech or not. Yes, it’s an overused word, particularly in CVs, but whatever you want to call it – fervour, zeal, intensity, excitement (I could go on and on here) – if you don’t have it for your product or idea, people will pick up on that and you won’t find the funding or support you need to succeed. Passion means you’re excited by your own idea and it’s this energy that can turn your idea into something extraordinary.

Now passion isn’t something you can learn. But chances are if you’re interested in FinTech, you’ve probably already got it. The best kind of passion I’ve seen in the FinTech scene is a combination of two things:

 1. A passion to find a solution to a common problem.

2. A passion to make life better for others.

Passion, for me at least, has people at the heart of it when considering how to fix something that’s broken in the financial sector. Take a look at Xero for instance. Xero created a way to help small business owners run their own accounting, saving them time and money. And it’s one of New Zealand’s best FinTech companies. Be like Xero.

So, passion is vital but without focus you’re not going to get anywhere. Focus helps you with the everyday work of organising your FinTech startup. Starting your own company from scratch and chasing after business opportunities left by gaps in the market requires a certain level of dedication and effort. You’ve got to be in it to win it. Without proper focus you won’t be able to attract the best talent to your team to help you bring that vision to market.

And speaking of vision, what exactly is that idea you’ve got? Have you honed in on an issue that needs fixing? Have you crafted the perfect solution? Is there a market? Am I asking too many questions?!


I could ask you about a million more.

Your challenge is to identify future trends and formulate what needs to be done to capture and ride them. Hello ideas!  But then you’ve got to make them real, and this what turns an idea into innovation, and some kid with an idea into a visionary. Remember, patience is a virtue. So, if the tech doesn’t exist yet to turn that idea into a reality, bank it. Your time will come.

Consider getting into an accelerator programme

Okay, I’m biased as the Programme Director of the KFA but getting into an accelerator programme is where it’s at if you’re looking to get into the FinTech game. And you’ve got options. There are FinTech accelerators and hubs and incubators all over the world now, and most of them take internationals. While they’re similar in many ways, you can find an accelerator that meets all or most of your needs. Yes, you’re going to have to give up some stake in your company, but it’s worth it to have access to mentors, networks, and other teams that will help guide and inspire you. Getting into an accelerator is one thing, but what you accomplish once you’re in is on you.

Let me simplify: do the work.

Most accelerator programmes are four months long. Let your passion and focus guide you in working the hardest you’ve ever worked before to bring your vision to fruition. This is your time! Bring the hustle. An accelerator program can get you to those breakthroughs faster than you could do it on your own.

Want more? Here are some tips to get your FinTech idea off the ground:

1. You can’t be all things, at all times, to everybody.

It’s easy to get caught up in the FinTech buzz. So much so you want your idea to be all things to all people. FOCUS! You can’t have it all. The good news is that you’ve got your idea which means you should already know what area of FinTech you’re looking to enter:

  • Insurance
  • Investing
  • Blockchain
  • Lending
  • Payments

Bad news: finance is a very competitive industry and these areas have strong incumbents. Solution: target a particular niche and expand it using the passion, focus, idea equation.

2. Your bank isn’t the enemy

Fun fact: people kinda hate traditional banks because they’re seen as caring more about their money than their customers. These stereotypes are just that, stereotypes, meaning that smart, game-changing banks (I’m looking at you Kiwibank) are doing their best to improve the financial system. If you’re planning on coming into the finance arena guns blazing on a mission to take out the banks, think again. Regulation works like this: you want to disrupt the banking system, become a bank yourself. Why not work together with your bank by providing the ideas and tech to make banking better?

3. Make friends

Isn’t it crazy how so many kindergarten life lessons apply to just about everything?! Introverted? Join the club, but it’s no excuse. Go to a conference, go out for drinks with our KFA teams, ask for introductions. There are so many people in the FinTech ecosystem who are happy to spend time with excited people who want to join the movement. Get out there. If you’re not connected, look to make connections with people who are. Make friends with incumbents! Just remember that making friends is give and take – don’t be the person who is all take and no give. We’re all here to help each other out.

4. Be flexible

I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but it’s possible that your first FinTech idea might not work. Yes, you’ve got a great idea, but you’ve got to be able to try out different angles in getting it to market. Persistence is one thing, stubbornness is another. Most of the world’s most successful FinTech firms attempted numerous business models before they found success. Get ready to abandon your big idea and embrace the unknown. Be ready to change, research, test, try and optimise your way out of your comfort zone.

Feeling inspired? That was my evil plan. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with the KFA.