Every day, you try to make payments somehow—to a friend, for products and services, receive an invoice, fund investments, buy crypto—and every day, you seem to notice a problem with your experience.
Bank charges. Failed transactions. Customers won’t fulfil their invoices. Repeated downtimes. Insane exchange rates. Unfavourable bank policies.
You’ve had enough; you want to do something about it, somehow. You get to work. You’ve listened to conversations by already existing players in the industry. You’ve read the latest news in the startup space—hundreds of millions of dollars being raised at every seed stage. You’re excited now—grateful, even. You’ve hacked a hundred-year-old problem for over a million people and you just might get paid while at it.
So, how do you hit the ground running?
If this isn’t your first rodeo at running a tech startup, you probably have an idea. But if you are a first-timer, combining a 9–5 or freelance job with bringing your dream to life or going all in, there are 5 things you should consider before starting your journey to Unicorn.
1. Know the Market
You have a solution, or if not, you recognized a problem worth solving. Your first order of the day is to find out if others consider this problem as important as you’ve seen it.
Doing research is a sure-fire way to get this done. “Have they had this problem?” “How does it affect them?” “Do they care for a solution? “Is there an alternative method?” “Has someone attempted to solve this before?” “Were they successful?”
Find your idea-market-fit. Know what the market wants.
2. Know the Ropes
Like you did before deciding to give the startup CEO life a trial, it is important to know a lot about what you’re about to build. Typical questions to ask are: “what is the Central Bank stance on this?” “Are there any policies to note and/or be wary of?” “What licenses do I need?” “Who else is doing this?” “What technology do I need?”
Contrary to what you may think, you do not need to have it all figured out to start. However, from our experience powering some of your favourite FinTech products in the country, a little figuring-out won’t hurt.
Why is this important? Because you’re going to have to talk about it.
3. Know the People
The FinTech space, like every space on Earth, is heavily populated with people. Founders, CTOs, developers, lawyers, designers, operators, compliance experts, and so much more —a plethora of skill sets you need to run a successful startup.
Whether you are networking for advice, fishing for a technical co-founder or headhunting your first employees, your first task is to talk about your idea in the most convincing way possible — hence, why you needed to know the ropes first.
Now, you’ve begun to cement your legitimacy. What next?
4. Know the Technology
Every tech company knows that there is no company without technology. Every FinTech startup runs on some kind of sophisticated software infrastructure, and you need to figure out with significant certainty which one works for your idea.
Your knowledge of people and the ropes come in handy here. Ask your network or your already built founding team. Expertise and experience also become valuable here.
“What technology does XYZ build with?” “How can we achieve Metric A but avoid the Problem B that XYZ currently has?” are the type of questions you bother yourself with at this stage.
5. Test & Prototype Your Idea
Your goal at this stage is to find out if your product is of some value to the market—enough to encourage a certain level of buy-in from customers.
Here, with people and advice at your disposal, build a functional, usable version of your idea with the least effort required (usually called a Minimum Viable Product, MVP) and share it with the market.
Operationally, you want to ensure that every ounce of effort put into this version is 100% required. You don’t want to spend too much than you need to, because you need answers fast to make your next critical decision — to thrive or pivot.
Here, you consider options like working with well-rounded people instead of specialist skillset; partnering with companies that own the licenses you need; building on already existing FinTech infrastructure company like Bloc; cutting down features into the least required for providing primary value to the customer. Great!
If you make it to this stage, you’ve done well. It is no guaranty that you go on to build a successful startup, but it is a sure-fire way to get started right. Best case scenario, you have product-market-fit, officially launch, raise funding, hit interesting figures in revenue, do it consistently for a while … boom! Unicorn.
Worst case scenario, the market didn’t need your idea. They appreciated it, but it wasn’t an important problem to them. You start again, start another or pivot to something new you learnt.
Either way, you don’t lose.