The KFA team

What makes a good FinTech accelerator programme?

We’re entering the 9th week of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator Programme! How time flies when you’re on the hustle to build the best future FinTech companies in New Zealand… As New Zealand’s first ever FinTech accelerator, we’ve got some knowledge to share on what makes a great accelerator programme.

Wait a minute. What’s an accelerator programme?

Our KFA is like a “seed accelerator”, which are also known as “startup accelerators”. Basically, accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based programs that include a heap of perks from mentorship to educational components (eg Masterclasses) that end in a public pitch event or, for us, a demo day. One of the best parts of accelerator programs are that they’re open to anyone with a great idea and a good smattering of potential, passion and drive.

Accelerator programmes around the world typically run over three to five months, which perhaps is implied in the name. They focus on intensive and fast product development to establish startups and get them ready for investment. For us, the KFA complements the services offered by Creative HQ and Lightning Lab, Wellington’s premier incubator.

Our goal is to help New Zealand FinTech companies get the investment they need to compete on a global scale.

What accelerators offer

Oh so much.

A good accelerator program offers specialist mentoring, coaching and business support in some form of the following:

  • Coworking Space

Um, yes please. Free desks for your entire team in a dynamic coworking space known as Creative HQ? Not to mention free coffee, tea and sometimes wine (if you’re lucky) for the duration of the 3-month program.

  • Living Expenses

Just a cool $20K in cash per team to cover living expenses during the program so that teams don’t have to stress out about working full-time while they’re working on their company.

  • Corporate Partners

We give our cohort access to our corporate connections for potential pilot projects, partnership opportunities, and as customers. Yeah, Kiwibank is backing us and we’re not afraid to mention it whenever we can. Without the support of our sponsors, our accelerator programme wouldn’t be what it is today. Kiwibank and Xero have their own teams involved in the programme too.

  • Tailored Mentorship

We carefully select mentors from the FinTech industry to provide hands-on support and valuable introductions to each of our teams. In some cases, they’re able to build solid friendships and working relationships that go beyond the programme.

  • Masterclasses

Expert-led sessions covering all scaling fundamentals - from business model canvas, lean methodology to fundraising.

  • Demo Day

This is where we celebrate the achievements of our cohort along with hundreds of investors, corporates, mentors and press attendees to boot! Our Demo Day is May 19th, and we seriously can’t wait.

Accelerators: not for everyone

Look, at some point in every startup’s journey the founders start to wonder if they should join an accelerator. It’s totally natural given how many accelerators are popping up all over the world.

And while this may be our first cohort, we’ve realised that the accelerator may not appropriate for every startup. If you’re thinking about being part of our second cohort, or you’re looking at accelerator programmes overseas, you should ask yourself exactly what you want to achieve from being part of such a programme. I suppose what we’re saying is that your decision to apply for an accelerator should be as well thought out as your MVP.

It’s been said that accelerators are no more than desks and a cheerleading squad. Ouch. We beg to differ. This is no summer camp! Our teams have three months to get the most out of what we have to offer. This takes a level of commitment that some people don’t quite understand. We do. It’s not easy; we’ve seen our teams struggle, and we’ve seen them shine. But we know we’re doing something right because every day we’re showing up.

And until these three months are up, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.

Thinking about joining an accelerator programme? Find out more here.