In 2018 we won the Global Open Banking Hackathon organized by Capgemini and secured $3,000 for development! It was a fantastic experience. We were selected from 48 teams around the world. For us, this event was very helpful because it helped to validate our proposal and allowed us to study trends in open banking APIs, as well as investments. We have been glad that we ended 2018 with this trophy but the real work is ahead of us in the next months.
We had a dream start. During this hackathon, we tested our own product, which was very important for a team. Our success showed that we had something tangible. However, we also know that we are very far from the real product which we can launch that allows people to integrate their real bank accounts. It is worth mentioning that the financial industry is more restricted and requires higher quality than other industries. This was also the time when we redesigned our mobile app based on user feedback from our first MVP. Our goal was to make this change as quickly as possible but, again, the reality is different from expectations. We spent around 3 months to create a new UX and implement it in a mobile application. The new layout helped us to make presentations with investors, collect feedback and check what people need.
The real wireframe design motivated us to apply in getting into the famous FinTech accelerator program organized by Startupbootcamp. Unfortunately, it was still too early for us but we believe that this opportunity will help to build our network and get a new experience, which can lead us in the future! Furthermore, it was a chance to attract investors who potentially like what we are building. For this reason, we decided to make a presentation at Startupbootcamp. It was an extremely funny and interesting experience. Seweryn messed up a pitch and introduction, which induced high-stress levels but, thankfully, stress motivates him a lot so he quickly gathered himself to complete the presentation. Despite this mistake, we have known that the partners of Startupbootcamp liked us. The reason we believed this is because we got a lot of questions and interest during this one-day session. In the end, we were invited, from a group of around 760 startups to the next round with the top 20 startups on selection day in Melbourne Australia. This round is an opportunity to get to the main accelerator program amongst the 10 best startups.
The experience which we got in Melbourne was amazing. We spent 5 hardworking days to promote our product. The first 3 days we spent on preparation and then 2 days on pitching and talking on the hot tables with Startupbootcamp partners. It was a wonderful place with many interesting people who are keen to give you feedback. Honestly, it was also a very hard time for us since we had to make a very important decision for our project. Do we really want to be in the top 10 startups and participate in a full accelerate program for the next 3 months or do we want to concentrate on the product in a quiet place without rushing it? It was very difficult to answer because we have seen the potential in this program. However, from the investor side, we weren’t sure that we are ready for this. The team’s decision at that time was to build it on our own and stay with our families, to avoid long separations.
The plan after Startupbootcamp was simple, develop the app in the next 3-4 months and launch our product at the end of September. The idea is the plan but the reality was different. Unfortunately, we spent a lot more time on development than we expected but the benefit of this is that we understand our product a lot better. We also solved a lot of technical problems which could block us in the future. We consumed this time to prepare a product to fit into the game very well and react to the changes in an extremely quick time. Of course, everything looks very simple but it was a very hard time for us to build it. Only through our determination and having a very simple goal, which we defined during that time, did we survive this testing time. At the same time, we didn’t spend enough time on events and promotions, which we regret a little bit because we haven’t learned about our evolving user needs. This choice of strategy allowed us to fully concentrate on the product which we validated earlier.
The next interesting opportunity for us was Web Summit. We were selected for an open-source program and were invited to participate in the biggest European event for startups. Unfortunately, that invitation didn’t allow us to pitch or deliver a presentation. We used the event to meet new people, gain further experience and check market trends. We met very inspired people from around the world and with a few of them, we had the opportunity to discuss our product. This event also opened our eyes and showed us what we could change in our product.
2 years later
We are very glad that finally after a few years we are close to having our product ready to share with you. To summarise this year, it was a rollercoaster with many difficult decisions, but our experience from previous years helped us to make them quicker. We also had a great opportunity where we felt that we could jump on the next level but at the same time, we felt that it was too risky to concentrate only on fundraising. Difficult to say now if we were wrong but for now, we know that we have a proper product. We couldn’t do this without our fantastic team and all the people who support us with their enthusiasm!