"We are a financial centre - including capital and financial market competence"
Fintech Germany Award
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Andreas Lukic, Managing Director of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH and jury member of the FinTechGermany Award (FTGA), gives an insight into the development of the award in an interview with Frankfurt Main Finance. We also find out why the FinTechGermany Award should actually exist every month.
What inspired you to create the FinTechGermany Award as a series of annual events?I worked in the US and England in the 90s and around the turn of the millennium. When I returned, I noticed that there was only a very small start-up ecosystem in the Rhine-Main area. There was a lack of private investor networks or other initiatives that bring startups, investors and clients together. That's why I became a member of a small business angel club in 2002, and since 2006 I have been chairman of the Business Angels Frankfurt Rhein Main. We look at about 900 start-ups every year and then make about 20 to 30 investments - on a private basis. The focus is on the contribution to the start-up ecosystem.
With the end of the financial crisis, business and politics began to take a greater interest in founders. Initiatives such as the FinTech Dialogue Forum were formed, which also gave rise to the TechQuartier and the FinTechGermany Award, the "Golden Garage". With the award, we show that Frankfurt, as a world-class financial centre, has to show its colours in the area of start-ups in order to be attractive for founders. We can't say, "We are the coolest, the most creative and the ones who have been in the market the longest". But we can say, "We are a financial centre - including capital and financial market competence". And that too for 100 years plus. The investor-side award is proof that we can judge whether startups are fundable, scalable and exit-ready.
How has the event developed over the years?
We now have about 180 startups that are nominated for the FTGA every year - just like the "Oscars". Startups can of course also apply externally. With these almost 200 companies, we have a good representation of the market every year. In the meantime, we are big enough to have our own award ceremony. This year it will take place in the Eurotheum, in the centre of the city. An open jury session has also taken place as part of the Financial Centre Day.What were the challenges for FinTechs in Germany at the beginning of the FinTechGermany Award?
First of all, FinTech is nothing new. What is new is the broad public perception. We could not have made such an award in 2005. There was no centre where you could find bundled resources. In the meantime, the topic of FinTech has become quite established. It has become a matter of course to use new technologies in the financial sector.Whereas a few years ago it was all about getting the first ideas and market areas and positioning oneself properly, today the focus is on establishing oneself properly. Nowadays, start-ups have to go much deeper and manage a multi-tone of end customers, competitive landscape and profit. That's why there are fewer startups today, but a lot of "funded and funded through" FinTechs. That is the change.
You have followed the developments of the winning companies until today. Have the founders and their companies received increased attention from investors after winning the FinTechGermany Award?
Yes, founders and entrepreneurs have increased attention from the relevant public after the award. This attention grows proportionally with the importance of the FinTechGermany Award.
As a start-up - whether Seed/Early Stage, Late Stage or Growth Stage - you always need unique selling points. Everyone makes a lot of noise. Every competition, every prize and every access to partners and networks are therefore very important for a startup. But this effect always applies the other way round as well: the financial centre and the players here also benefit from this - for example in the form of cooperations and orders.
As far as investors are concerned: We have to show that it is worth coming to Frankfurt. Not only because of the traditional networking, but also because of the start-ups. We actually need something like the FintechGermany Award every month (laughs).
The name "Golden Garage" refers to the early beginnings of technology pioneers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Page. Do we still see careers like these today? Or are emerging FinTechs already on their way from their garages and bedrooms to the FinTech hubs and offices of this world?
The garage is the symbol of the unconventional start-up. Hewlett-Packard is the archetype. In Silicon Valley there is even a museum, "the old garage". And yes, this unconventional founding continues.
There are three characteristics that make up a business incubator:
If you look at Silicon Valley, it is striking that only a few founders were born there. So there is not this one founder gene that a region has - or not. This factor remains constant and we in the Rhine-Main region have caught up significantly over the years.
This includes universities, the skilled trades, but also cultural offerings such as museums. In this respect, the Rhine-Main region has clearly specialised in start-ups.
A financing landscape must be created in which start-ups can obtain all forms of investment - from 1000 to 10,00 to 100,000 euros. That's why I always emphasise the investor award and the capital market competence of the jury. Financing is our topic of the future. The Golden Garage lives from the fact that I can set up there and also get my company financed. If you think about Facebook and the like: someone once gave them between one hundred and five hundred thousand dollars. At the same time, this business angel had an idea in the back of his head of where this start-up was going. In the fintech sector, we are now well on our way.Andreas Lukic is the founder and managing director of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH, a private investment and consulting company founded in 2000, which carries out investments, financing and M&A transactions for management buy-outs/buy-ins and company successions, invests in growth-oriented companies from the group, medium-sized and start-up sectors on a case-by-case basis, supports their corporate development and also invests in selected real estate. Mr Lukic is a member of several advisory boards, chairman of the board of Business-Angels FrankfurtRheinMain e.V. and has been active as a business angel since 1999. In addition, he supports renowned, up-and-coming artists as part of the Schirn Zeitgenossen, Frankfurt. You can find more information about him here.