In New York City on Wednesday, executives at leading financial services startups spoke about building a successful startup in today's increasingly challenging global environment. The event was part of the Cornell Entrepreneurship Network, an extension of the university's professional business network.
Among those who participated in a panel were Alejandro Cremades, the co-founder of Onevest; Phil Degisi, the chief marketing officer of CommonBond; Todd Latham, the chief marketing officer of Currency Cloud; and Savneet Singh, co-founder of Gold Bullion International. Their companies are involved in multiple fields within the red-hot financial services startup sector, including marketplace lending, crowdfunding for startups, and a digital commodities purchasing platform.
Fintech has sparked more than its share of innovation in the past few years, as well as billions of dollars in venture capital spending. From late 2014 to the end of 2015, some 64 U.S. companies took in about $800 million, according to venture capital researcher CB Insights.
Here are three things the experts on the panel said all startups should do be doing now.
1. Stick With It
Cremades, whose company connects entrepreneurs with potential investors using an online platform, said you have to keep plugging away in the face of your struggles.
"Ninety-five percent of your days will suck," Cremades said. Nevertheless, you shouldn't accept no for answer. You also need to hone your listening skills--with investors, and especially with customers. "They will help you shape up what you put out in the market, so you strike the nerve you need to strike," he said.
2. Think Big (Really Big)
Singh, who built an online trading network that allows investors to purchase and store gold, said you have to go after a vision that can grow with you.
"The saddest thing I see happen is when startups get into businesses that aren't big enough for their time or their team," Singh said. "The businesses may be 3 to 5 years old with 5 to 10 million dollars in revenue, and they've raised money, but it's a terrible place to be" if the industry is limiting. Do your due diligence and think big, he said.
3. Get Your Money Now
Latham, whose company Currency Cloud lets business owners send money and make payments in dozens of countries, said the angel and venture capital markets are starting to grow cold. Only the best businesses, with the strongest business models, are likely to succeed in the coming years.
"There is money to be had certainly, but we are seeing the appetite for spending is waning," Latham said. "People want to invest in a sound business, and if you are not one, you will fall by the wayside."