Banking on Success: The Best Financial Institute Startup and Accelerator Programmes Around

I brief guide on the best financial institute startup programmes and Accelerator programmes to help you if your an entrepreneur.

Even with years of business experience, many entrepreneurs struggle to set up on their own, with a reported 50% of UK startups failing within the first 5 years.

Often blamed on lack of lending from UK banks, in addition to the UK’s tax system, it’s no wonder that many successful entrepreneurs are calling for change and more assistance for these fledgling businesses.

Despite this bleak outlook from some big business names, the banks are already offering assistance, and though competition is tough, there are some great accelerator and startup pitching programmes available across the country that are starting to see promising results from their mentorship schemes.

Here, we take a look at some of the best pitching programmes in the UK, and a few of their success stories.

Barclays Accelerator Programme

One of the biggest names in banking, Barclays Accelerator programme runs worldwide, and offers mentorship by some big names from MasterCard, TechSparks and Barclays themselves.

The London programme is based at a co-working space near London’s Mile End and is a 13-week programme offering possible investment of up to $120,000, ending with an external business demonstration to interested parties.

Barclays are mainly concentrating their assistance on businesses involved with payments, analytics, insurance, wealth management and digital banking solutions, and competition is said to be fierce. Having said that, they are already seeing success with the programme.

The success story so far

There appear to be several success stories emerging from the Mile End programme, but one of note has to be Cutover, who developed a specialised tool for team management in high-risk areas, and have in fact impressed Barclays so much, they’ve become Cutover’s biggest client.

Virgin’s Pitch to Rich

A slightly more open competition, Virgin’s Pitch to Rich programme allowed entrants from any sector the opportunity to pitch their idea directly to Richard Branson and a few of his “business friends” (entrepreneurs from the Fast Track 100 and Virgin CEOs).

Despite huge numbers of entrants, last year only 4 made it through Branson’s door, each coming away with a relatively small investment in terms of money, but the marketing advice, mentoring and legal advice could see their figures skyrocket. The programme covers both startups that qualify for the Government startup loans criteria and innovators in technology looking to take a step up.

One of the most interesting things to note is the innovation category winner will be enrolled in the Accelerator Academy, backed by the likes of Dell, NatWest and CrowdCube.

Virgin’s Pitch to Rich has been running since 2012, and returns again in 2016, but what’s become of previous winners?

The success story so far

2012’s winner Dan Watson, who overcame the stiff competition from thousands of worldwide applicants, walked away with much more than the initial £3000 winner’s cheque.

His safety net, which allowed unmarketable fish to escape capture, won him the James Dyson award for inventors, and enough publicity to explore and improve his invention before its launch to the industry.

At a time when Green Tech is becoming more important than ever, and with a focus on sustainable fishing, it’s likely that Watson’s invention will land him more plaudits – and funding – than this.

Santander Innoventures

Like Barclays, Santander’s startup and accelerator programme is based around FinTech. Their core ethos for the programme is not to be a passive investor, and instead, their promise of a share of a $100m fund (so far only 5 investments have been made, according to an article on FusionWire, an industry news outlet powered by Misys) promises to support the digital revolution and collaborate and partner with successful pitchers to grow their business from seed to maturity.

The success story so far

Blockchain startup Ripple were one of the lucky few to gain investment from Santander in 2014, and the $4m investment is likely to see not only a quicker resolution to adapting the blockchain for mainstream finance, but also ease the way for a collaboration to use technology for real-time international payments, at a lower cost than has previously been possible.

With the wealth of programmes aimed at startups, especially in the FinTech arena, despite huge competition, there are ways forward for savvy entrepreneurs to gain more than just financial investments from the banks. Carefully selecting the startup or accelerator programme to pitch for, and aligning the business’ strategies with the banks, however, is one of the toughest decisions an entrepreneur will have to make.

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