Fintech has continued to be one of the dominant focus areas for innovation globally in 2018 and has well and truly established itself as the fastest growing sector in the financial services industry worldwide. As bold new solutions spring up from startups, the industry has seen a massive shift in shaking up the way traditional financial services operate forever.
In 2015, Stone & Chalk was born to support the growth of the highest quality fintech startups across Australia. It now has two main innovation hubs in Sydney and Melbourne. Today, Stone & Chalk is home to Australasia’s leading independent fintech hub for startups, scaleups, industry associations and investors. Through Stone & Chalk’s accelerated commercialisation programs it works to connect high potential fintech startups and scaleups with corporate partners as customers, as well as with investors, mentors, and customers.
Alex Scandurra, CEO of Stone & Chalk, says: “We act as a tribe leader for our resident and alumni startups and scaleups to government and regulators; we partner with industry associations such as Fintech Australia, the Insurtech and Regtech Associations and represent our residents at industry summits, driving the fintech agenda on behalf of our community.”
This not-for-profit houses more than 110 impressive fintech startups with over 650 residents in total. In a short period of time, Stone & Chalk’s residents have rose over a $255 million and created over 600 direct jobs to further fuel the fintech industry.
Moreover, more than 140 startups have benefitted from Stone & Chalk by successfully graduating including 15 exporting overseas and close to 50% already securing various forms of commercial deals with Stone & Chalk’s corporate partners. Overall, Stone & Chalk is linked up with more than 27 Australian and international corporate partners, which are coached to be start-up ready, through strategic programs, executive and board education, workshops all founded on the common thread of mutual collaboration.
Stone & Chalk is not just a co-working space, as it offers much more being an innovative marketplace for fintech. Stone & Chalk delivers tailored mentor programs, has curated an investor community and regularly runs skills studios for its founders. Stone & Chalk also puts on regular masterclasses by renowned experts on key topics for the benefit of the broader community. Their collaborative national community encourages and fosters creativity, focusing on ways to shape a more sustainable economy for the future of Australia. Leading with their unique Community Charter, Stone & Chalk has succeeded in building a wider culture amongst all its stakeholders based on ‘giving first’ a principle which its CEO Alex Scandurra established before operations had even commenced.
A CEO with a powerful vision
Alex Scandurra, former Captain (Squadron Commander) in the Australian Army, has made a monumental contribution to fintech by leading the way in helping to bring together and build out the Australian fintech ecosystem. In 2015, Alex was headhunted to be the CEO of Stone & Chalk and has since paved the way by helping startups to commercialise and scale through collaboration.
More recently, Alex realised his vision for Fintech to become a national capability with the launch of Stone & Chalk Melbourne to create a mega-hub connecting Sydney and Melbourne, uniting fintech across the Australian Eastern seaboard. Currently, Alex is also an Advisory Board Member of the NSW Department of Finance as well as the Co-Founder & Director of Spark Festival – a 2-week program of events and activities covering startups, innovation and entrepreneurship.
He’s also a Founding Member of ASIC Digital Advisory Committee, was a Founding Director of FinTech Australia and was appointed last year to the board of children’s charity Redkite. Prior to returning to Australia, Alex was Head of Strategic Partnerships at Barclay’s in the UK where he launched Barclay’s RISE as well as the global partnership between Barclays and Techstars.
Exclusive Services for FinTech Startups
Stone & Chalk offers a series of innovative programs to accelerate commercialisation and the export of leading fintech capabilities. Services include:
- Skills Studios: presenting the best subject matter experts to support startups across all areas of the business from legal advice, grants, accounting, and finance matters as well as preparing startups to become corporate and investor ready
- Facilitates one-to-one meetings: between startups and corporate partners to help startup Founders with their value propositions and overcome any potential hurdles
- Supporting services for startup Founders: through Founders Circle, Brain Hack programs which aid in solving business problems and maintaining good mental health
- Women in Fintech program: provides opportunities for female Founders to flourish in fintech through a variety of events, design sessions, meet-ups, and fireside chats. It also delivers scholarships to encourage more women to participate in the fintech ecosystem.
- Fintern Fever: giving University students the opportunity to intern with a startup.
- Accelerated Commercialisation Programs: which uniquely bring scaleups together with large organisations to solve real business problems which simultaneously generate significant step change capability internally for corporates as well as producing material commercial outcomes for scaleups.
Overall, Stone & Chalk has transformed fintech in Australia by playing a major role in focusing on talent to further develop the broader ecosystem.
Together with NSW Government and Jobs for NSW, Stone & Chalk has helped create the Sydney Startup Hub and become one of its cornerstone tenants. And in Victoria Stone & Chalk has partnered closely with the Department of Economic Development and LanuchVic to create the Victorian Innovation Centre where Stone & Chalk is located.
Another area of advocacy that Stone & Chalk supports is refugees. This is through its speed-dating event which attracts more than 50 refugees pitching to potential employees during Spark Festival. Last year, more than 20 talented refugees were able to secure employment through this initiative.
Each year, Stone & Chalk oversees over 500 fintech events, which are complimentary to residents as part of their exclusive access to these services. These events are designed to help residents to round out their skills, especially concerning business, in order to learn how to rapidly scale and eventually graduate as Alumni.
The Humble Road to Success
The many programs that come out of Stone & Chalk have carved out a niche for its corporate partners and startup ecosystem in bringing innovation from the outside-in. This process has resulted in several solutions to real business problems.
In the past 6 months, Stone & Chalk has run a number of successful programs such as the DXC SpringBoard and Insurtech. The winners of DXC were subsequently invited to globally partner with DXC’s customer base. Alternatively, the Insurtech program saw startups progress from bootcamp and accelerator with commercial agreements currently being finalised.
True collaboration has allowed the company to grow and accommodate both startup and corporate, to learn from each other and forge mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Some successes of 2018:
- Data Republic announced a partnership with ANZ to deliver a data sharing control centre
- MoneyCatcha linked up with HSBC to help speed up the process of home-loan approvals and make risk monitoring more efficient
- MoneyPlace was purchased by marketplace lenders, Liberty, offering them greater funding flexibility
- FlamingoAI parterned with Credit Union Australia (CUA) to run an insurance chatbot pilot
Looking to the Future
Stone & Chalk works to provide great support for fintech startups with the main purpose of driving a better future forward by helping startups to succeed, thus, helping existing financial frameworks to be modernised for the future.