The journey from start-up to scale-up for NZ fintech firms is tough enough even in the best of times let alone in the current challenging circumstances. But now YouDo, and other founding partners, has made the ride a little easier for local fintechs with the new pro-bono support program, The Golden Ticket, snapped up for the first time by, Kernel Wealth…
Why fintech enterprise needs industry support
YouDo is a proud sponsor of the Golden Ticket program, designed to provide pro bono support from a panel of experienced firms to help the most promising fintechs in NZ achieve their business goals.
Despite a launch date that coincided with a global pandemic, we remained on schedule to go live with the program at a time when industry support for start-up firms is more important than ever.
Our first Golden Ticket holder, Kernel Wealth, came to us with a vision to empower Kiwis through investment. Kernel already had built a minimum viable product but it was clear the program partners could offer the start-up the right expertise and practical support to confidently scale-up its business.
Now at the other side of the inaugural Golden Ticket process, it’s worth reviewing what happened – from the perspective of support partners and Kernel – as well as the lessons learned for the next tranche of the program.
Tranche one – our journey
A practical approach
The founding Golden Ticket partners – YouDo, Alphero, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Arcanum, and FinTechNZ – are all seasoned industry experts.
We knew there was no need to reinvent the wheel in designing the program. Instead, we focused on refining the approach to our start-up support scheme and basing it on solid principles such as the need to be:
• industry-led and delivered by experienced practitioners;
• strongly practical with a real walk-away value; and,
• entirely pro bono, with the collective understanding that everyone involved would benefit from the program in some way – both the ticket-holder and the partners.
But we also built the Golden Ticket program to be sustainable: in practice, that meant keeping a careful balance of value and time for everyone involved; choosing one ticket-holder per quarter; and, delivering the support across a three-month period so everyone could maintain a quality approach.
Furthermore, we targeted start-ups at a very specific stage where our input could make the most impact and deliver results aligned with the fintech’s business needs.
Kernel, for example, boasted a nimble and accessible investment platform, a team of passionate experts as well as ambitious plans to scale-up.
The game plan
The program kicked off with a series of workshops where the support partners and Kernel identified where the firm was in its product lifecycle before mapping out future plans and requirements.
Subsequently, Kernel spoke with each of the Golden Ticket partners every two weeks to flesh-out the concepts and develop detailed action plans and recommendations
Kernel absorbed several small lessons though the workshops and ongoing communication with support partners that collectively added up to some significant insights.
Finally, we tailored a set of outcomes to match Kernel’s specific needs to deliver solutions around legal support, platform design, user experience as well as flagging a potential machine-learning capability.
The first Golden Ticket round was effectively a soft-launch; a chance to both support and learn from Kernel. As it turned out, the process outperformed all our expectations.
Each of the partners just rolled up their sleeves and delivered over-and-above. As the program ended, we had a real sense that the collective experience of the support partners had prepared Kernel for the next step on its journey; the fintech walked away with some substantial practical tools to build a stronger future.
Equally, Kernel arrived with some well-developed plans but remained open to input from each of the partners. The launch partners, too, gained invaluable feedback on the program from Kernel, helping us to determine what worked well and how to refine the process for the next Golden Ticket holder.
Just the ticket: how Kernel got on board
For Kernel founder and CEO, Dean Anderson, the Golden Ticket program couldn’t have come at a better time. Dean says while the business was ready to scale according to its ‘Generation Two’ vision, there were still many details yet to be nailed down.
The Golden Ticket has been hugely valuable for Kernel, enabling us to engage with all the different parties,” he says. “It’s really rounded out and touched on all the key points that we need to address as we continue to scale our products.There have been a huge number of takeaways that we’ve already started implementing and that you’ll probably see come to market.”
In fact, Dean says one of the most valuable things was the happy friction between Kernel’s preconceptions and the support partners’ advice.
I’d say the challenge to your existing thinking is the key outcome of this. It’s caused us to think about things differently and we’ve actually taken a different approach with some of what we’re planning to do.”
He says Kernel had a chance to plug some gaps, changing not its products but the ways the company delivers them to clients.
We had a strong sense from the start that we would get value out of it. I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to go and register, and anyone who does come into it, to have an open mind.”
Did the program deliver?
In a word – yes.
The Golden Ticket was set up with a simple goal in mind: to help one more start-up survive and thrive.
We’ve certainly achieved that target with Kernel, handing the rising fintech star the tools and confidence it needs to scale-up.
Much of the value has come from the very specific detail in the deliverables that only specialists can provide. As Dean says: “That’s what the experts deliver – the small details that start to make a big difference.”
And the support partners, too, showcased their respective talents and capabilities through the program for the rest of the industry; improving their brands and presence as well as developing potential business leads.
Building on our success
We’re grateful that the Golden Ticket has been well received with a first-run outcome that all parties involved can be proud of.
Clearly, the demand exists for a focused start-up fintech mentoring option and we intend to develop our program further based on feedback from ticket-holders over time.
We expect the Golden Ticket program will attract interest from more expert mentors and, eventually, link to other support groups as the benefits of giving a leg-up to start-ups accrue across the industry.
Stay tuned for tranche two of the Golden Ticket program, where another fintech firm gains entry to an exciting future…