Taking into consideration the drive to transform the fintech ecosystem, devising contemporary acceleration strategies, democratic entrepreneurship qualities, and a knack for innovation, Nektarios Liolios has been recognized as an influential voice in banking. Nektarios is the Co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp FinTech, the organization behind the global industry-focused innovation programs.
Working to address the relationship between corporates and startups, Nektarios works closely with industry partners and investors around the world in key FinTech hubs including London, New York, Mexico City, Mumbai and Singapore. Driven by entrepreneurship, collaboration and the desire to change the industry, Nektarios is a global nomad, travel geek, and sneaker freaker.
“Since I stepped into the world of FinTech innovation almost a decade ago, on the surface it appears that we have come a long way, in reality, despite all the noise and #fintecheverywhere, I see so little of real change,” states Nektarios. He hopes that this will change over the next 10 years as corporates understand startups better and realize that these problems can be tackled.
Nektarios also comprehends that by listening to advice from outside the organization, based on experience and data, corporates can start to understand the importance of their role and how best to approach innovation.
Addressing the misinterpreted quality that startups deliver, Nektarios expresses, “We regularly hear banks complaining about how FinTech startups aren’t offering the right solutions that they can plug directly into their businesses. Many big financial services companies join an accelerator/incubator/lab as part of their quest to find these mythical problem-solving startups, but when one starts digging a little deeper it becomes very clear, very quickly that there is little understanding of the value that startups can actually provide.”
“Corporates need to understand that startups will not solve all of their problems. It is very rare to find anyone who has put in serious time and effort in trying to be strategic about innovation before getting started,” he adds.
According to Nektarios, what he’s missing most is the recognition that the large organizations need to work on themselves to be startup-ready, in the same way they expect the startups to be enterprise-ready. He expresses that when asked how organizations measure the success of their initiatives or what success looks like, the responses are generally a lot of corporate waffle.
He also asserts that most of these organizations don’t incentivize innovation across the ranks. “Saying that, we should give some credit to those banks that have created a meaningful innovation strategy and are embracing innovation better than others, but no one has really cracked it yet,” he adds.
Corporates need to define what they want to change internally and acknowledge that this won’t happen without investing in changing the company culture is what Nektarios suggests. Embracing an R&D mentality which means trying multiple things at the same time, looking at failing as an important part of the process, and to find the one thing that will actually work is the key to bring about a change, according to him. Moreover, building a portfolio of different innovation initiatives, looking at the different innovation horizons, but also, being patient does the rest of the work, he says.
Nektarios asserts that most startups are not addressing the issues that are central to a bank’s P&L. Banks should focus on what they’re good at – be clear in what their core assets are and let others solve the problems they can’t focus on.
“Stop trying to do everything. It goes back to setting a clearer path – figure out what the end goal is and create a roadmap that will help get you there. If banks had a better idea as to what they were actually trying to achieve, they might be more patient and be prepared to experiment,” he advises.
Outside of financial services, some industries have started to get their heads around this. “Should we be looking outside of our own industry to learn how to address some of our pain points?” asks Nektarios. “Success and the real evolution of financial services will come from recognizing that startups can’t solve every problem. Some existing challenges can only be addressed by the incumbents. They have to ‘build it’ themselves but it has to happen, ‘startup-style’, whilst continuing to engage with startups for all the other things,” he asserts.
“For this to happen, a serious change internally within banks is required, and until then, we will continue to be frustrated that we’re not evolving as an industry and keeping up with the needs of the customer,” adds Nektarios.
A Radically Disruptive Organization
Startupbootcamp is continuously growing and expanding its global footprint. In FinTech alone, it has plans to continue to expand into new markets where the potential to be part of a FinTech hub is in foresight. The company is also continually looking at new ways to engage with customers by listening to the challenges and pain points and building new innovation program models to help address their key concerns.
Startupbootcamp focuses on finding synergies between emerging and established companies. It fine tunes each innovation program to enable corporate/startup collaboration. This allows its partners to find new lines of revenue, provide solutions for their customers, gain innovation insights, improve internal processes, and leapfrog competition by innovating faster.
Each program the organization conducts is supported by corporate partners who are offered the opportunity to gain access to a global pool of early and late stage technology startups. The company takes the guesswork, out of which startup would be the best fit for each business. Partners also benefit directly from its programs through innovation initiatives aimed at assisting with their own innovation pain points.