Part One: Fin & Tonic - The Battle for Talent in Fintech

Part One: Fin & Tonic - The Battle for Talent in Fintech

While senior leadership from the New York banking scene, forward thinking tech startup founders and curious VCs start filling up the seats of the SparkLabs event venue - where B-Hive and IE are hosting the third Fin & Tonic New York event in its series – I sipped my refreshing gin and tonic and went over the event's promising line-up of keynote and panel speakers: 

Making a footprint on the Belgian-Indian fintech ecosystem

I’ve made a few business trips to India in the past, but this was the first one starting from Melsbroeck Airport, as I was part of the delegation for The State Visit to the Republic of India. While the practical arrangements to accompany our Majesties the King and the Queen of the Belgians gave the trip a special flavor, it was also a great opportunity for B-Hive to participate, thanks to an invitation from Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) and ING.

Scaling Series, Part Three: The Happiness Equation for Entrepreneurs

Many entrepreneurs talk about how difficult starting a business can be - so why not try to be happy along the way?

There are many books and advice columns out there about what happiness is and how to achieve it, but let’s talk about one particular equation that seems to come back time and time again, especially for entrepreneurs.

London Fintech Week – perspectives on Insurtech

By Thomas Depuydt (B-Hive)

A full week of interesting panels and presentations happened earlier this month at Fintech Week London. We were on sight for the insurtech panel, as it’s one of the up and coming innovation verticals.

The current state of the insurance industry was described by the entrepreneurs on stage as…

·         Lacking customer centricity

·         Intermediaries in the value chain that add huge costs and limited value

·         A rise of data to allow better priced, tailored products

Or, in other words…

The perfect storm for disruption

We have been hearing that for a while now, but it’s about time someone actually does something about it. The entrepreneurs in the panel representing companies such as Homelyfe, hiBob and Yu Life are planning to do exactly that. One of the founders said he does not like the word disruption, as it sounds too negative. He claims, “there will be a better experience at a much lower cost” - same same, but different.

A first innovation wave will target distribution channels, cutting out middlemen – a practice stylized by e-commerce. Lower premiums for consumers and more individualized knowledge (data) of the consumers should be the outcome. The second innovation wave is likely to be on the risk and product side, where individualized offerings replace plain vanilla products and in a later phase, “protection-as-a-service” will be replacing existing insurance products altogether. This comprehensive protection will be data-driven and link to actual life events and behavior.

Several startups are jumping on the insurtech bandwagon, but entering the insurance industry is complex, and a deep knowledge of industry dynamics is crucial to succeed.

Disrupting within the existing value chain is a challenging task, as the integration points are often inflexible, due to regulation and legacy IT infrastructure.

The entrepreneurs are strong believers in creating a parallel channel straight to the consumers (i.e., a B2C approach). They link directly to re-insurers, creating direct competition with incumbents. They clearly expect that the pricing of risk will be commoditized in the future.

Is there a place for collaboration with incumbents?

According to the entrepreneurs, insurance companies are faster to react to the digital insurtech threat than their banking counterparts to the fintech wave of companies a couple of years ago. There is a clear willingness to collaborate and learn, although this brings its own challenges:

Incumbent insurance players often…

1.       Struggle to identify the right partners to innovate with

2.       Do not always have the technical capability to integrate easily

3.       Have legal and risk constraints that impede collaboration

An area in which large corporates are surely looking for synergies with digital companies is the SME market segment. Like in banking, this huge market segment is poorly serviced and incumbent insurers are looking for the right digital channels to reach the SMEs. While the business imperative for collaboration with digital channels to service the SME segment is a no-brainer, the legacy architecture makes it a big challenge to make that happen due to e.g., a lack of open architecture/APIs. The move towards the cloud that is slowly taking off in the insurance industry could help alleviate some of these concerns.

The B-word.

There isn’t a single panel discussion in London without a Brexit question these days. The entrepreneurs’ worry seems to be more on the talent side (finding full-stack developers will become even harder if no EU citizens can be recruited) and slightly less on the regulatory side, where regulatory stability is almost more important than the nature of regulation itself. The entrepreneurs kept their cool and approached the topic with pragmatism or, to quote one of the founders, “I am far more worried about hiring my next developer than I am about what Theresa May will or won’t do.”

Are you struggling to identify the right partners with which to innovate?

Top 9 Changes Resulting from the Digital Transformation: Collaboration is Key

Companies in every industry and geographic location around the globe are well aware that technological innovation is a key strategic topic. Digital transformation disrupts traditional business models, pushing organizations to invest in new technologies, invent new business models and reorganize internal processes.

5 Successful College Dropouts in Fintech

Laurentius de Voltolina; Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia; Kupferstichkabinett SMPK, Berlin/Staatliche Museen.

Laurentius de Voltolina; Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia; Kupferstichkabinett SMPK, Berlin/Staatliche Museen.

By Marilia Assis (B-Hive)

In 1158 the Bologna University, one of the oldest in the world, signed a document that secures the academic freedom, the authentica habita. This document grants several rights to the academics. One of them is the freedom of travel to study. However, many of our contemporary students need more freedom than that. They are focusing on the outside world rather than classrooms to reach their goals. Based on this observation, we selected some successful stories of students that dropped out of universities and colleges to create companies in the fintech sector.

1 - David Zalik was born in Israel and raised in Alabama, skipped high school and enrolled in Auburn University. Not feeling fulfilled with his studies, he decided to drop-out of university and open a computer assembly company. Years later this entrepreneur becomes the co-founder of GreenSky, offering fast and paperless solutions and financial services to businesses of all sizes. According to Crunchbase his company already raised more than $350 million.

Via Steve Lyerly twitter account.

Via Steve Lyerly twitter account.

2 - The Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, founders of Stripe, gained a huge visibility this year after being highlighted by Forbes as being two of the richest people of the planet. The young men are also two of only four self-made billionaires in their 20s. What most people don’t know, is that they had to quit the college to fully commit to their company. Patrick left MIT and John left Harvard. Their risky action was not in vain: Now Stripe is worth
$ 9 billion and is providing a set of unified APIs and online payment tools all over the world.

Via Stripe

Via Stripe

3 – Alexa Von Tobel is a graduated in psychology and literature. However, in 2009 Alexa Von Tobel dropped out of Harvard business school to open LearnVest, a $350 million empire that is helping people to organize their finances. Furthermore, she published the bestseller “Financially Fearless”. This multitasking professional is also an inspiration for other women tempting to open their own business.



4 - Hany Rashwan is an Egyptian who realized the dream of many of his peers, being accepted in a prestigious American university. Nevertheless, he decided to take an unusual way, dropping out of Columbia University to pursue his dream: Using technology to make the world a more efficient, prosperous and equal place. He was very successful staying true to his intentions. Becoming the founder of, he is providing lenders with tools to integrate and streamline payouts.

Via Deborah Svoboda

Via Deborah Svoboda

5- Ryan Breslow was a dedicated and participative Stanford student. He was one of the creators of the Stanford Bitcoin research group. Studying hard, he discovered the limitations of the payments system, which inspired him to make his decision: Dropping out of Stanford and opening his own payment platform.  In 2014, together with his fellow student Eric Feldman, he founded Bolt, allowing users to make payments through digital currencies such as bitcoin.