Life enrichment through fintech. Our investment thesis.
The intersection between finance and technology nowadays creates new use cases for value movement around the globe, greatly enriching both our daily lives and the way we do business. The way we feel about the world of money today cannot compare to the world we knew just a couple of years ago. The fintech realm is developing rapidly, moving ahead with unprecedented speed, sophistication, and creativity, which allows other industries to flourish. Today, fintech is an enabler and at the same time it is an enhancer.
Well, this wasn’t always the case.
The long and winding road of fintech
The early origins of fintech can be seen in the emergence of online banking in the 1980s and 1990s. Financial institutions began to leverage computer networks and the Internet to provide banking services to customers remotely. This marked a significant shift from traditional brick-and-mortar banking and enabled customers to perform transactions and access financial information electronically, making banking more convenient than waiting in line at the bank office.
The rise of e-commerce in the 1990s further fueled the development of fintech. As more people began shopping online, secure payment systems and digital wallets became a necessity. Companies like PayPal played a pivotal role in providing secure online payment solutions, setting the stage for the digital payments revolution.
Then came the software advancements, followed by the financial crisis in 2008, which exposed inefficiencies and vulnerabilities within the traditional financial system and led to a growing demand for alternative solutions. Fintech startups began to challenge established financial institutions by offering innovative products and services that addressed customer pain points and provided more transparency and accessibility.
The real game changer, however, was the mass adoption of smartphones and payment apps, allowing users to manage their finances on the go. The advent of mobile wallets and digital payment platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo transformed the way people conduct transactions, reducing the reliance on physical cash and traditional banking channels.
Although we recognize the advancements in fintech and their massive social benefits, we believe there is still a lot more to be done, in order to enable fintech to become the true enhancer it is meant to be. At Eleven, this is precisely what we believe in and are looking for when investing in a company.
Life enrichment through fintech - a single statement encompassing our investment thesis
Fintech is usually associated with banks, payments or enterprise software products enhancing money management. So how could fintech contribute to and improve people’s lives? Let us give you a couple of examples.
At Eleven, we share the common vision of our kids living in a healthier environment, encourage them to practise sports, and invest a lot of time in this. However, scheduling and paying for sports activities can be a nightmare. Can you imagine how many apps, chats, and channels you need to manage simultaneously, to schedule a football training session? What is more, most of the sports clubs are cash only, on occasion some accept bank transfers, only a small portion operates with card payments (mainly on-site), and a tiny fraction of all card payments are accepted online – resulting in loss of time, money, and engagement.
This is why we fell in love with MyTeam – a company redefining the way you orchestrate sport activities and schedules, communicate, and pay/accept payments for them. The main enabler here is the fintech component, but what makes the overall experience great is that it becomes something beyond the obvious – fintech becomes an enhancer. It allows the parents to be in control and enjoy the ride, while sport clubs have cash predictability, better fund collection, and money management. A startup, originally pitched as a sports tech company, is now able to digitize a whole industry and create frictionless user journeys for all shareholders using a fintech layer to build its ecosystem.
I am writing this article as I sit in a cozy cottage in the mountains, sharing a table with some remote workers, a couple of them contractors. Being a contractor myself several years ago, I experienced first hand the broken process of this type of employment which led to many headaches and financial inefficiencies, when you literally need to manage everything for your own company. Let alone if you want to live in a different country from time to time.
And here comes Native Teams. When we first met Jack, the co-founder and CEO of Native Teams, he claimed that they are predominantly a platform for remote workers. But the bigger opportunity out there was in fact the intersection of an emerging future of work trend with fintech. Being able to achieve proper, fair, and effortless payment for the work done is simply invaluable. Then comes the larger adoption of fintech products and services such as loans, cards, savings, and insurances.
Our investment thesis in fintech
Nowadays, commerce, the personal and business finance management, and even industries such as sports, travel, beauty or entertainment, are benefitting from the vast development of fintech infrastructure. The cutting-edge underlying technology, which allows seamless and fast embedding, is constantly transforming the finance layer into a touchless and invisible one. At the same time, its interoperability creates industry convergence and better user journeys, resulting in improved lives.
We firmly believe that fintech should integrate seamlessly into daily activities. Whether it’s a freelancer receiving wages directly in their design software, barber shops securing loans through a single click in their CRMs, or insurance products integrated into your shopping app, the possibilities are endless.
Joining our #Oneof11 fintech family means
- Being part of a global network of fintech entrepreneurs and industry experts with a give back mentality
From peer founders to seasoned practitioners and C-level executives in leading fintech companies (like Payhawk, the first fintech unicorn for our portfolio and Bulgaria) – our extended network could help with advisory on a wide range of topics, saving you tons of work and sleepless nights. Staying compliant with the latest regulations, tips and tricks on shortening the path to acquiring a license, navigating enterprise sales in the financial world, having access to the right fintech infrastructure – our network spreads beyond borders and geographies. All of them invest time and effort, some could join your company in a formal role, or even sit on the cap table if you are matching on vision, energy and values.
- Fast track to potential clients and biz dev opportunities
Our Fintech team has a diverse background and solid expertise in the financial space, both from an entrepreneurial and corporate perspective – so it’s easy to find the shortest path for new business development opportunities and unlock new partnerships. Take the Visa Innovation Program Europe, for example – the growth platform for fintechs, which started in 2018 in Bulgaria as a partnership between Visa and Eleven and is now live in 7 countries across Europe. It has 200 commercial partners (leading banks, fintech scale ups, merchants and large enterprises) and 100 alumni fintechs which share the same passion for innovation.
- Having a good time together – sharing highs and lows, celebrating wins
Building a startup is an extremely dynamic endeavor – it constantly challenges your energy and resilience. So having a good time together is all we need – with trust, transparency and integrity being the markers for good collaboration.