The decade-long summer of free money is over. Venture funding declined by $90 billion (53%) in the third quarter of 2022 from a year earlier and fell $40 billion (33%) compared to the second quarter, per Crunchbase data. That makes Q3 2022 the slowest quarter for VC funding since the start of the pandemic.
However, in spite of all the crazy stories this year, there are real opportunities for aspiring fintech startups to become the new heroes of the multitrillion-dollar banking and embedded finance industry.
In particular, I’m hearing that investors are reluctant to fund future potential unless it comes hand in hand with concrete customer traction. So if you’re building a fintech idea and you need funding today, it’s vital to get your product into the hands of customers quickly.
How will you do that? By gathering feedback, using it to sharpen your focus and prioritization and ultimately rewarding your customers for helping you.
Here are three tips for achieving those goals:
- Get feedback and insights from your customers with a working product.
- Aim high for the long term, but don’t work on anything except your minimum viable product (MVP) in the short term.
- Always remember the problems you’re trying to fix for people and reward them for choosing you.
It’s critical to gather feedback and insights from your customers
Everything else being equal, embedded banking startups and new fintechs will live and die on the basis of the user experience they provide.
In this operating environment, startups have a better chance of impressing investors if they can point to tangible results.
What does that look like in reality? Prepare for these common questions before you head to an investor meeting with your pitch deck:
- Who are your users?
- What are the problems you’re trying to fix for them?
- What do they like and what do they want?
- Where are you going to meet them?
The only way to find these answers is to ship something real — a working product that people can interact with and use. That means everything you’re building right now should be in service of getting an MVP out the door.
I’m not saying, “Build it and they will come.” Far too many tech companies shut down shop because they were making solutions in search of problems. It is really easy to slow yourself down by thinking too far ahead in terms of what you need to create.
For instance, if you’re building a consumer fintech startup, do you really need to build your own payments processor? In my experience, that would take 10 to 20 engineers, about 18 months and millions of dollars, and they’d likely end up building something that may never see the light of day.
Eighteen months is a very long time in an environment where fintechs and embedded banking startups can get to market in three months, if not faster, according to Bain & Co. research. Moreover, speed begets opportunity: The study expects embedded finance transactions in the U.S. to surge to $7 trillion over the next four years, up from $2.6 trillion at present.