For extended Startup support, we work with international mentors that share their industry experience with the teams and challenge their ideas and strategies. We have spoken with Alban Salord, whose career spans more than 20 years during which he moved from academia (law), to international contract negotiation, to risk management in the banking industry.
Alban, you have been mentoring one of the high-potential startups in our Incubation Program Batch I inSingapore. Can you provide examples of how your skills, experience and network support the team?
In my role as Head of the Business Financial Crime team in APAC, I need to fight for each investment dollar for particular solutions. With this in mind, I support startups in extracting the benefits of their solutions for their clients in terms of efficiency and cost rather than focusing on the solution itself.
By explaining the internal challenges of a corporate,I was able to help the team define better target markets in terms of the sizeof corporate that they might want to go after. Getting that first client is key– and while it might be desirable to get an international bank, it will also pose the greatest obstacle to launch your business since you have not built any foothold in the industry yet. Instead of spending too much time with a large bank, go for the smaller ones that have no internal capabilities and actually require a third party to solve that certain problem.
What should every tech entrepreneur know? Do you have any personal advice for pre-seed startups?
Every startup needs to understand who the real decision maker is and how to prepare the adequate pitch for each audience they are speaking to. Imagine you are pitching technical details to a marketing lead– not the easiest path to get them excited.
What do you consider to be the most important characteristics of successful teams?
First of all, all members of the team need to be on the same page. Every single one of the team should be able to pitch to an outside audience, so no one in the team is left behind on the path of growth.
Then, the ability to spot collaboration opportunities and building a substantial network with important stakeholders is key forgetting feedback. This exposure generates new ideas for creating an even better product.
Finally, leveraging on social media and events as communication channels to mark your presence in the ecosystem. A natural path is via F10 events of course.
In your opinion, what are the biggest stumbling stones for tech entrepreneurs in Asia? How do you recommend overcoming them?
Building trust is one of the major ones. Information asymmetry between startup and big corporate as the latter may not understand the technology behind the solution.
In my opinion a solid way to overcome these are:professionalism and presentation, visibility, and partnership. Dress professionally for a meeting and do your homework regarding the areas you are targeting. Diligently publish articles and attend conferences as speakers to build a track record and thought leadership and thus contribute to the knowledge pool. Via collaboration with established entities such as consultancy firms or other, more mature startups young businesses can build credibility.
A second big stumbling stone is the “Failure is not an option” mentality. As an early-stage startup it is important to build trust by being extremely transparent where you help your user understand the process and include them in the refinement process. To conclude, do not overpromise and adopt a “start small and fail fast” mentality while internalising learnings(document your learnings!).
You are a one-on-one mentor for Fencore. Why had you selected this startup and how has working with the team been?
It was a new area of business for me. With Fencore I learned more about data management and in return I supported them with business insights and by introducing them with our CDO to get his insights. Working with the team has been a great experience. I have my huge respect for their ambition and diligence. The two co-founders are great listeners and internalise the differing opinions we discussed together. They evaluated carefully before making their decisions.
What have been the three main take-aways from your time as a startup mentor for F10?
Being a mentor to these new teams is a great opportunity to share my experience and learn and grow along with them at the same time!
F10 believes that the fastest route to innovation lies in early collaboration between startups, incumbents, and investors. Dedicated mentors such as Alban Salord share their industry insights and experience with the startups in our programs.
Are you ready to enhance your network and join the global F10 ecosystem? We are scouting for the best FinTech, RegTech, InsurTech andDeepTech startups for theF10 Incubation Program in Switzerland, Singapore, and Spain. Teams accepted into the program will receive individual coaching on go-to market, product development, and fundraising, have the opportunity to connect with the F10investor network, gain access to test data from major banks as well as insurance companies and benefit from free office space in the heart ofZurich, Singapore, or Barcelona for the duration of the program.