WWT Collaborates with Tech Venture Fund SixThirty
WWT continues to strengthen its partnership with SixThirty, a venture capital fund investing in enterprise technology startups.
Building a partnership to drive global innovation
Driving innovation and building strong partnerships are critical elements to WWT's culture. As a complementary avenue to expand innovation, WWT continues to strengthen its partnership with SixThirty, a venture capital fund investing in enterprise technology startups. At its inception in 2013, SixThirty originally focused primarily on financial-based technology (FinTech) companies, but has broadened to include a second fund, SixThirty CYBER, supporting cybersecurity startups. The FinTech fund has also expanded to include Insurance Technology (InsurTech). This partnership gives WWT early insight and access to new technology that may be of interest to customers across a wide variety of technologies, from automation and AI to blockchain and IoT security.
Global expansion is another common thread between WWT and SixThirty. Founded as a global fund, existing SixThirty portfolio companies are established in more than 30 countries, including England, Spain, Israel, Canada and New Zealand, and more than 83 cities internationally. In 2019, SixThirty added operations in Amsterdam and Singapore to better support EMEA and APAC regions. Within each geographic region, the startup ecosystem is a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs, engineers, business leaders and funding partners. Having on-the-ground operations in each location provides SixThirty added connectivity and insight into innovative technology and the unique challenges encountered by these companies regionally. As an example, a large percentage of the SixThirty portfolio based outside of the U.S. originated from Israel. Due to the geopolitical challenges in the Middle East, many cybersecurity innovations are generated from these real-world challenges faced in Israel. The SixThirty team and their investors are helping to translate these ideas into business applications globally and across industries.
Technology disruption on multiple fronts
The recent FinTech boom can be traced to the 2008 credit crisis and the resulting heavy level of financial services regulation that created an ideal environment for innovation. At the same time, the individual financial services customer, whether they are making a deposit at their local retail bank, applying online for a new home mortgage, or engaging with their insurance broker or wealth manager continues to have increasingly high expectations for a streamlined digital experience across all channels. Whether it’s mobile, desktop, call center, virtual assistant, third-party party social channels or in-person, customers demand a seamless digital experience from their financial institutions. Another disrupting force in the financial technology space are individual startups and large technology firms (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, etc.) directly competing with legacy bank and financial institutions. Often, these new startup competitors are referred to as “challengers” because they are digital-first companies that offer new and traditional financial services without the cost of the traditional physical locations, and without the legacy technology debt that can drag down innovation.
While some startups are direct competition to banks and financial institutions, the overall FinTech ecosystem has moved from highly disruptive to highly collaborative. Financial services customers are learning through testing with individual startups to determine the best approaches for collaboration. Much of the collaboration style is driven by the culture of the incumbent organization, as well as the personality of the FinTech and their founder. Serving as a collision point for FinTech startups and financial services incumbents is at the heart of the SixThirty approach to venture capital investing, and WWT’s partnership with SixThirty.
Standing out in a crowded field
There are an estimated 6,500+ FinTech startup companies globally, with growing numbers every day. While the amount of companies grows, so does their investment, with total global FinTech investment increasing from $50.8 billion in 2017 to over $111.8 billion in 2018, according to KPMG’s The Pulse of Fintech, a biannual report that highlights key trends in FinTech across the globe.
Keeping a grasp on the FinTech market is difficult. Most large financial institutions have executive leadership and dedicated teams focused on understanding this landscape and building partnerships to drive innovation. Often, they will engage venture capital firms like SixThirty that are concentrated in this space to broaden their exposure and investment reach. Throughout each year, SixThirty and SixThirty CYBER invest in eight to 12 new ideas. This provides SixThirty’s corporate partners, like WWT and financial institutions across banking, wealth, and insurance, the opportunity to continuously engage with the newest technology. Furthermore, companies that receive an investment from SixThirty or SixThirty CYBER spend time in St. Louis going through the SixThirty Go-To-Market program, which connects companies with corporate partners and subject-matter experts. WWT plays an active role in the program as a mentor and facilitator of a workshop on channel partnerships.
Working together for continued innovation
Recently, WWT supported SixThirty as part of two key activities for 2019. The first was the completion of the SixThirty Spring 2019 Go-To-Market Program, which consisted of an eight-week business development and networking curriculum. WWT led a workshop on developing channel partnerships, which is a key sales growth initiative for many of the SixThirty firms. The other key activity was the 2019 Q2 Investment Committee meeting. WWT, and other SixThirty corporate partners and investors evaluated presentations from FinTech startups in a Shark Tank-like format.
These innovative solutions include enterprise-grade blockchain solutions and AI-powered text and voice platforms that enable customer interaction.
WWT and SixThirty are committed to expanding their partnership, and WWT will continue to provide technology expertise and lab capabilities to support the development of these companies. In addition, WWT is leveraging the industry expertise of SixThirty to engage financial services customers in more business-focused discussions around industry challenges and innovation.