The Shape of Fintech Funding for Start-Ups in CCR

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Last week we saw how an emerging culture of collaboration across CCR gives credence to the Fintech Wales vision of building a sector that will enjoy global repute. That collaboration extends beyond co-operation between companies and academia – with a network of specialist enterprises also supporting fintech in their growth and development.

Ship Shape VC is one such player in this vitally important market: a unique recommendation platform employing algorithms that help fintech start-ups identify the investors at VC firms that are right for them.

The company has itself secured funding from the UK Innovation Fund and are winners of the Sustainable Innovation Fund Grant – so we spoke with Daniel Sawko, founder of  Ship Shape, to discover how his team are helping start-ups connect with the investors who can help them transform a concept or vision into a product or service.

Identifying the investors who are right for start-ups.  

“Across the world we’re seeing the democratisation of the ability to start a tech business. If you have an idea, it’s becoming easier and easier to execute on that idea. And so we have to start looking at Human Capital – and where there’s a disparity between the Human Capital and access to Financial Capital. I spent most of 2020 locked down near Swansea and saw an abundance of Human Capital but comparatively little access to funding networks – and that’s what Ship Shape is here to address: opening up access to the same sort of networks that other areas such as London have access to.”

Opening up fairer access to financial capital  for the human capital of South Wales.

“The need is great – and the benefits of bridging that gap are tremendous for any economy. I’m fortunate to have participated in the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab in New York, run by the inspirational Carla Harris – and all the numbers show that prejudicial access to capital costs the world economies $4.4 trillion every year. Imagine the difference it would make if we could bring a small fraction of that value to Wales. And imagine what it would mean for Wales to be seen as an inclusive place for start-up fintechs – giving fairer access to capital in a world where 89% of funding goes to all-male founding teams.”

Prejudicial access to capital costs the world $4.4 trillion every year. Imagine bringing some of that lost value to Wales.

“We believe your idea should be funded based on merit, not network. And we aim to get results for you in three business days. You can spend up to nine months in a ‘fundraise’ and that eats into time and resource; in a very inefficient way. So we bring a science and a focus, answering critical questions such as “will they bring more than just money to the table” and “how can I show my idea to be relevant to them”, as well as the answering obvious conundrum of “who should I approach – and how”.

We aim to get results for you in three business days.

The Ship Shape method of matching start-ups with investors breaks the current closed circuits and gets people and their ideas into a network that’s predisposed to them and their idea. We save about 160 days of research time, with an algorithm that works across a long tail of data and through AI analysis points the start-up in the right direction. Saving that time and being matched with the right investor is usually the difference between getting off the ground or not – especially in the £250k+ investment market we work in. The companies that we have helped secure funding for all say that our approach created far more positive conversations than any they had before – in a much shorter space of time”.

Why not Wales?

“Having worked out there in the field and studied at the Oxford University Fintech Programme, I can see the potential of fintech here in Wales. There’s a vision to build a fintech sector of global repute in this region – and why not? The infrastructure is here, the ambition is here, the human capital is here. It’s also a place that offers a much better quality of life and that’s important to us as a company as we rely on keeping our brains fresh, which is why we work a four-and-and-a-half day week. It’s one of the reasons why Wales is an attractive proposition to the right kind of investor. And I’ve found people here want you to help you to succeed. We’ve had so much help from Business Wales, some of the major Universities in South Wales ( Swansea, Cardiff and UWTSD), from David  Wooldridge at the Wales Government IP Office – and from Sarah Williams-Gardener at Fintech Wales.”

Our strategy is to get far more start-ups into the top of the funnel.

Sarah Williams-Gardener, Chair of Fintech Wales, applauds the innovation being shown by the Ship Shape team and a service that helps connect fintech visionaries with the initial seed capital and ongoing support they need to get their ideas to market:

“Our strategy for Fintech Wales has clearly identified the need to get far more start-ups into the top of our funnel – giving us the opportunity to nurture them into mid-sized enterprises. I’m hugely impressed by the vision of Daniel and his team – and the commitment they have shown in bringing this vital service and unique competitive edge to our fintech ecosystem here in Wales. We just need to back that ambition and human capital with access to the financial capital it deserves.”

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