Currently ranked: 35
Previously ranked: 27
After a few years with the SWIFT financial industry telecommunications cooperative, most recently working on its Innotribe innovation initiatives and annual Startup Challenge competitions, Nektarios Liolios in 2014 joined the global Startupbootcamp technology accelerator network to launch a fintech franchise. A London fintech boot camp came first, followed by Startupbootcamp FinTech locations in New York, Singapore, Mumbai, and Mexico City; a fintech and cybersecurity program in Amsterdam; and an insuretech boot camp in London. Each boot camp runs three months and typically includes ten to 12 start-ups that are mentored by industry experts — with London mentors coming from BBVA, Lloyds Banking Group, and Mastercard, for example. The start-ups are then introduced to potential customers and investors.
Start-ups at the latest New York boot camp included CFX Markets, a provider of nonlisted alternative assets trading; Factury, which offers distributed ledger technology for loans; and VendorMach, a machine learning platform for financial and reputational risk scoring of suppliers. The Mexico City boot camp, which Startupbootcamp launched jointly with digital finance accelerator Finnovista, had a demo day in October, with insurance claims disruptor Bdeo, predictive analytics start-up Dile, and cybersecurity firm Tesseract in the cohort. And industry sponsors are flocking to Startupbootcamp InsurTech — there are currently 26, including Munich Re, Old Mutual, and Zurich Insurance Group. Alumni start-ups Insly and Buzzmove have raised financing rounds of €1 million ($1.2 million) and £6 million ($8 million), respectively.
Clearly a believer in and an enabler of technological disruption, Liolios is nonetheless skeptical of the ability of financial industry incumbents to absorb change or engage constructively with the disrupters. Even if the top executives “get it,” he says, “it is a struggle to get the organization to follow. A lot of [the problem] is cultural.” In addition to his work at Startupbootcamp, Liolios is a co-founder of Rainmaking Innovation, which he describes as a global cooperative of entrepreneurs “working to address the relationship between corporates and start-ups” and which in November launched Rainmaking Colab as a vehicle for accelerating that collaboration. In a recent blog he wrote that “start-ups will not solve all the banks’ problems.” In many cases, he explained, “the banks need to learn to build solutions themselves, but they have to do it ‘start-up style.’”