There’s a huge need. Nationally, all financial technology (FinTech) companies have similar problems. With a normal tech startup, if you have a great idea, a great team and sufficient funds, you have a good chance of succeeding. In financial technology, those three things are not enough. You need connections, access to the ecosystem, be it insurance, money transfer licenses or banking licenses. If you have a great idea and it involves money, you’ll likely need other things.
How does SixThirty solve that problem?
SixThirty provides companies with mentoring and money, but more importantly we plug them into the ecosystem of financial institutions. If they need trading licenses on Wall Street or commodity licenses, we’ve got ScottTrade and Stifel. If they’re in the credit cards and payments business, we’ve got MasterCard. We have this ecosystem in St. Louis of successful and reputable financial service companies. Without these relationships, a lot of financial tech startups just won’t make it.
How is SixThirty different than other accelerator programs?
While we have our Business Development Program, SixThirty is not an ‘accelerator’. SixThirty’s program is focused on business development. The startups that come through our program are typically late-seed stage. They have working products, a great team, and are starting to gain customer traction. During the program we introduce companies to potential customers, decision makers and influencers within some of the top financial services companies in the country.
Why St. Louis?
St. Louis is one of the largest financial services hubs outside of New York. It’s home to Edward Jones, Scottrade, Stifel Nicolaus, MasterCard, UMB Bank, Thomson Reuters, Commerce Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Advisors, and boasts one of the most dynamic, explosive startup communities in the country.
How many companies do you accept into the program?
We typically only accept 4-6 companies per cohort and we run two cohorts per year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Do you sign NDAs?
Each year we see hundreds of applications, and many of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, we don’t sign NDAs. Our application does not ask for your secret sauce, and there is no reason you have to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so.
How much equity do you take?
The funding we put into our startups (up to $100K) is typically an equity investment. Unlike other accelerators, our stake in the company is negotiable – we find that this flexibility is in the best interest of our fund and the startups we invest in. Historically, we’ve taken less than 10% for the $100K and the services we offer as an accelerator.
How will the funding be distributed?
The funding we put into our startups will be distributed in two tranches: one tranche at the beginning of the program and a second tranche towards the end of the program.
What types of companies do you fund?
We’re looking for financial technology (FinTech) startups who provide web or mobile software in the following areas:
- Payments / Processing
- Security / Fraud Solutions
- Regulatory / Compliance Solutions
- Big Data and Analytics
- Asset / Wealth Management
Is my company at the right stage for SixThirty?
Like any diversified portfolio, each SixThirty class is unique and is usually composed of companies at different stages in the life cycle of a startup. That being said, we really do insist on investing in businesses with a working product. It’s okay if your business isn’t generating revenue yet (although it doesn’t hurt your chances if it is), but we prefer to see companies that are at the business development stage of the startup life cycle.
What if I already went through another program?
No problem. Several of our portfolio companies went through other accelerator programs before joining SixThirty, and still found the experience valuable. Our focus is on connecting fintech companies with potential customers and partners, which is different than many other programs. Chances are that there will be little overlap.
Do you accept startups with a lone (just one) founder?
We look for great, balanced teams who have a full range of skills. We strongly advise you to seek co-founders who balance your skillset. For example, if you’re a business development guru, you might consider adding someone with technical expertise.
Do I need to send you a business plan?
Do you only accept startups located in the Midwest?
We accept applications from all over the world.
Do I have to relocate to St. Louis?
Selected founding teams (the whole company does not have to relocate) will have to be in St. Louis for SixThirty programming. We meet as a group twice a week during the program, but we recommend that you allow some extra time in St. Louis to meet with potential customers, partners and mentors. St. Louis has a ton to offer startups, so if you want to stay, we’d love to have you. While SixThirty does not provide housing, we can connect you with discounts and resources to help you find the right accommodations for you.
What type of programming do you offer?
The focus of our program is business development. SixThirty invests in FinTech companies with working products, so the type of value-added programming we seek to offer is based around the typical issues for companies at this stage, which include marketing, branding/positioning, sales/pipeline management, and fundraising.
What does a typical week look like during the program?
We only have formal programming two days per week, usually on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings. This allows the companies in our cohort to focus on the things they need to focus on.
During our regular weekly meetings, companies report out their accomplishments from the previous week and their action plans for the following one. The companies also identify areas in which they need help, or people or organizations they need introductions to. Afterwards, the companies meet individually with their lead mentors for a deeper dive into their activities and issues that week.
During the program, the companies are introduced to potential customers, decision makers, and influencers within St. Louis’s financial services community.
What else can I expect from the program?
On occasion, we will schedule happy hours and other networking opportunities with the greater St. Louis financial services industry, our network of mentors, or a casual get-together with the other members of the cohort.
Has SixThirty had any exits?
Yes — SixThirty portfolio company Upside was acquired by Envestnet in February 2015 and Assembly Payments (formerly known as PromisePay) had a partial exit in February 2017.
Do you offer any perks?
Like most accelerators, joining our portfolio comes with a plethora of perks including, but not limited to, pro-bono and discounted legal and accounting services, Amazon Web Services credits, and co-working office space in the T-REX tech startup incubator.