Leadervest was founded as a reaction to the issues which caused the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and saw millions of people lose their jobs due to irresponsible leadership in the big banks. We believe innovation is the key to a stable financial services industry and that innovative leaders will change the world.

Mediaplanet: What is Leadervest’s main objective?

Ross Campbell: Our objective is to become the premier source for FinTech startups to launch and globally scale their business to create a FinTech eco-system in Canada. This will create more competition for our global financial systems, which will make services cheaper, more accessible, and ultimately improve financial equality and inclusion around the world.

MP: How can incubator-accelerators help FinTech startups take the next step?

RC: Incubator-accelerators have access to capital and connect startups with funding. Startups connected to incubator-accelerators have more clout, as incubator-accelerators do due diligence to ensure a startup will make money before adding it to its portfolio.

Incubator-accelerators provide much-needed mentorship. Mentorship can save entrepreneurs time, help guide startups through the minefield that is the early marketplace, and help them avoid common pitfalls. In fact, mentored startups dramatically outperform their unmentored competition, doubling the success rate of launching and surviving.

Incubator-accelerators also help entrepreneurs understand their market and increase their sales. Regardless of how ground-breaking you may think your startup is, other startups and businesses will be competing with you for your customer base. Knowing your customers’ problems and what makes you unique from the competition is key. An incubator-accelerator can help startups increase sales and compete on the global stage.

MP: Does Leadervest focus solely on financial innovation? If so, what is the most innovated sector you are seeing in finance?

RC: We focus on FinTech primarily with specializations in social impact investing, blockchain, bitcoin, artificial intelligence, robo-advisors, crowdfunding, lending, insurtech, regtech, data analytics, and payments startups. Social impact investing and blockchain streams give us the ability to bypass intermediaries and enable transactions on a peer-to-peer basis, not only creating new efficiencies but also providing new, previously unimaginable possibilities and the opportunity to uproot other industries entirely in order to create sustainable social change.

MP: It feels as though the younger demographics are the ones challenging the status quo of the financial industry. Does this mean that most FinTech startups are founded by people in their 20s and 30s?

RC: Yes, younger demographics are challenging the status quo of the financial industry but they are also the target consumers as millennials are set to be 50 percent of the market by 2020. There are younger startup founders, more so on the B2C channel; however, likely due to the strict regulations and barriers to entry in FinTech, the startup founders are typically more experienced in the financial sector and are in their 30s and 40s. That being said, we look for innovative leaders of any age with grit, passion, and experience who are worth the investment, hence our company name — Leadervest.

MP: What is the single biggest barrier for startups to enter to market?

RC: Execution — the act of closing sales cannot happen unless startups begin speaking with customers early on, as speed is everything in a startup. Too much time is usually spent on strategy, operations, and funding. Not all startups need funding as bootstrapping is a legitimate option if you can go-to-market quickly and get clients signed up. Even if you have an idea, prototype or proof-of-concept to start the process, go-to-market, start taking orders, and get it in writing.

MP: How does customer experience play into the success of a FinTech product or service?

RC: Customer experience is everything. Uber and Apple have created a new way of doing business by creating a legendary digital customer experience. These companies have inspired FinTech entrepreneurs to design their products and services around the customers’ problems through a process of iteration. All companies are going digital to create the optimal customer experience, as people now want to bank on their phones, from their couch, with ease. The companies who don’t adapt and create a great customer experience will be left behind.

MP: Do you see more startups taking the incubator-accelerator route?

RC: Yes, I see more startups taking the incubator-accelerator route, mainly for the speed-to-market, mentorship and funding, and would encourage early-stage startups to connect with as many mentors as possible. Collaboration is the key to innovation. We are at a time in history when we know what we have but we don’t really know what is coming next — so we need to be equipped. No one person can foresee these market changes. Many companies are even taking mentorship a step further toward coopetition, which is to collaborate with your competition for clearer foresight. Having said all that, we definitely see more startups taking the incubator-accelerator route. In fact, we would bank on it.