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Survival Tips for Fintech Startups as the Herd Thins

Xignite

Article by Penny Crosman

Enthusiasm for certain fintech investments is said to be cooling among venture capitalists and private-equity firms already.

So the natural question is, how can enterprising online lenders and other startups survive, much less grow?

We put several entrepreneurs and experts on the spot at the Empire Startups Fintech Conference last week in New York. Here is a roundup of their advice.

1. Spend cautiously. "As a startup, you have to use your cash wisely," said Stephane Dubois, the chief executive and founder of the market data API company Xignite, which recently completed a $20.5 million funding round. "You don't want to run out, especially as it's probably going to get harder and harder to raise [money] in the second half of the year."

One common mistake: startups often spend too much on office space. "You'll probably regret spending so much money on just getting an office, later on," he said.

2. Geography matters. Matthew Harris, managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, said he always asks out-of-town startup entrepreneurs why they are not based in New York. "Many defining companies are in New York," he said. "New York has so many incumbent advantages for fintech companies."

Pascal Bouvier, venture partner with Santander InnoVentures, agreed. "I would love to say geography is not a vector of success in this day and age where we're connected 24/7 anywhere on the planet, but it is," he said. "The network value of being in a large city cannot be quantified. In financial services and fintech, you have so many different stakeholders that you have to deal with — incumbents, regulators, third parties — that have a touch point on workflow in process."

Bouvier does not see New York as the only choice — he also counts Singapore and London as fintech centers.

Being near potential customers and funding sources is important, said Scarlett Sieber, senior vice president of global business development at BBVA. "If you're in a place that's not one of the Tier 1 cities for fintech, having access to capital and getting on their radar can be more challenging," she said. That said, "If you're in a really small area that doesn't mean you won't be successful. Dwolla is a case in point."

3. Take regulation seriously. Many at the event stressed the importance of building good relationships with regulators. "Try to establish a partnership over time," said John Ramsay, chief market policy officer a IEX Group, an alternative stock exchange designed to discourage high-frequency trading that opened in October 2013. Ramsay worked at the SEC for 14 years before joining the exchange. "Don't expect the regulator to deliver clarity right away," he said.

Stuart Lacey, founder and CEO of Trunomi, noted that startups need to speak in a way regulators can relate to. "Regulators typically want to put a round peg in a round hole and a square peg in a square hole," he said. "Throwing words around like 'disruption' and 'completely rethinking' and the kind of things that typically go in your deck won't go over well. Get an understanding of how they're built, who they are, and … speak their language and engage in a very open dialogue."

At the e-billing startup Viewpost, the first person founder Max Eliscu hired was the chief privacy officer of Royal Bank of Scotland. "We knew it was going to be an issue, [and] we had to make compliance and regulation an aspect of what we were doing or we wouldn't go far," he said.

However, he also cautioned against regulators directly. "Most people would suggest that if you're not regulated, approaching regulators and asking questions probably is not a good idea. Rather, you can go to regulators through counsel, through advisers who have direct relationships. It's an anonymized way to get feedback and guidance to help you understand: are you stepping too close to the line? are you at risk?"

4. Say goodbye to your personal life. "People have a fantasy about the excitement of being an entrepreneur," Eliscu said. "The reality is, it is intellectually stimulating, it's incredibly rewarding, but it is not easy. It's an enormous amount of work. Work-life balance is not real for founders of startups, and I think people need to be honest with themselves about whether they really have the constitution to be founders."

5. Make sure the business plan is practical. "Once an entrepreneur came to me who had what he thought was a really good idea about starting a gaming studio, a place where people would go to play games," Eliscu said.

But the person had no retail experience, no knowledge about point-of-sale systems and no idea how to run a business.

"My advice to him was, go get a job at Starbucks for six months, get trained on how to be in retail by somebody who's really exceptional at it," Eliscu said. "It doesn't matter what you do — mop their floors, clean the bar. Learn the elements and the fundamentals of the business you want to start while getting paid to do it. Don't learn that on the back of your investors' capital."

6. Vet the people you surround yourself with. "I spent a couple of years getting to know my co-founder, the [chief financial officer] I brought on board," said Caren Maio, CEO and co-founder of Nestio, a maker of leasing and marketing software for multifamily landlords and brokers. "You don't always have the luxury of dating before you get married, but doing everything you can to assess not only the type of person, but is this person's skill set complementary to mine, is so helpful."

She also recommended hiring people who are smarter than you. "It's how I learn," Maio said.

7. Find strong, established partners. "The key to longevity is a willingness to partner with incumbents in the industry who have been doing this much longer but need fresh ideas and innovative products to take to their existing clients," said Jason Zaler, fintech partnerships lead at PwC. "It's to recognize that particularly on the consumer-facing side of fintech, the direct-to-consumer model is a very steep hill to climb without partners." Many startups have changed their tune in the past 15 months, he said. "The distribution that they thought might be optional or nice to have is now a need to have." In some cases they realize this too late, he said.

8. Do it because you love it. "I still spring out of bed every morning and think, 'I love what I do,'" Maio said. "And I literally cannot imagine doing anything but this."

Source: American Banker

RECENT NEWS

By Max Bowie - Waters Technology

NICE Actimize has fortified the datasets available for use in its Surveil-X trade surveillance tool, using exchange prices and other data from Swiss vendor SIX, delivered via Xignite’s new suite of microservices for content distribution and data management.

The vendor is preparing to go live with the joint solution “any day now,” after completing some final data validation, says Sam Sundera, head of future business at SIX, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is responsible for dealing with partners, new technology data and initiatives, and with banks’ innovation labs.

A subscription to Waters Technology is required to read this article.

07/23/2020

The Two Companies Deliver Industry’s Largest Global Coverage Sourced from 1,800+ Trading Venues Via Hyper-Scalable Cloud APIs

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, and SIX, today announced a strategic partnership. Xignite and SIX are now offering real-time data from the catalog of SIX which includes 1,800+ global exchanges and trading venues via Xignite Enterprise Microservices, a suite of cloud-native market data management services built to transform how firms store, distribute, manage, and control market data in the cloud. The partnership accelerates the transition of large financial institutions and fintechs to the cloud. This is the first time such a comprehensive set of market data has been offered to the market via a native cloud solution.

Xignite’s battle-tested cloud-native solution currently serves more than 12 billion API calls per day to 750 clients around the world--making it the largest cloud API platform in capital markets. Xignite recently introduced Xignite Enterprise Microservices, a suite of vendor-agnostic services large firms can deploy to migrate their market data infrastructure and any of their existing data sources to the cloud.

“Large financial institutions have been looking for cloud-native market data solutions capable of handling their broad coverage requirements and offering a state-of-the-art customer experience.” says Stephane Dubois, CEO and founder of Xignite. “The pandemic has worsened the situation as firms want to get away from maintaining complex and expensive on-premise infrastructures that are overkill for most of their needs,” added Dubois. “We had the enterprise technology but not the coverage, so partnering with SIX made sense. We are thrilled to partner with SIX and be first to market with a true global enterprise solution.” 

SIX is one of the few market data vendors offering full coverage of the global capital markets. The Market Data Feed (MDF) from SIX delivers a steady stream of global market information that is consolidated, standardized and in real time. With MDF clients get access to over 30 million instruments across all asset classes and from more than 1,800 exchanges, OTC markets, and other trading venues. The combined solution integrates the MDF feed from SIX delivered from hosted collocation facilities to Xignite Enterprise Microservices deployed in the client’s own cloud account. The Xignite Real-Time Microservice is used to distribute real-time data internally or externally from the cloud via scalable APIs while the Xignite Entitlements and Usage Microservice provides control and transparency of data consumption and usage.

“Partnering with Xignite is a great leap for SIX in making its market data easily available to all buy-side and sell-side professionals. While making the richness, depth and wide coverage of our Market Data Feed available via Xignite’s cloud-based solution, we offer clients streamlined access to the highest quality data without a complicated acquisition process, burdensome integration or costly development,” commented John McManus, Head Sales, Financial Information, SIX.

About Xignite

Xignite Makes Market Data Easy. Xignite is leading the disruption of the market data industry with its AWS-based financial data distribution and market data management solutions. Xignite’s Market Data Cloud platform provides market data managers full transparency on the usage of a firm's first-level real-time and reference data - making it easy for data owners to entitle, control consumption, comply with licensing requirements, allocate costs, and resolve vendor audits or invoice discrepancies. Xignite also powers financial data-driven robo-advisors, online brokerages, and investing apps with its real-time, delayed, and historical pricing data offered via 500+ REST Cloud APIs. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

About SIX

SIX operates and develops infrastructure services in the Securities & Exchanges, Banking Services and Financial Information business units with the aim of raising efficiency, quality, and innovative capacity across the entire value chain of the Swiss financial center. The company is owned by its users (122 banks). With a workforce of some 2,600 employees and a presence in 20 countries, it generated operating income of CHF 1.13 billion and Group net profit of CHF 120.5 million in 2019.
 www.six-group.com

07/23/2020

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, announced today it has created a new program to assist early stage and start-up financial technology companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. To apply for this program visit https://www.xignite.com/fintech-development-program/

The costs associated with developing and launching fintech products and apps can be daunting, even in the best of times. A particularly challenging aspect can be the procurement of quality financial and market data. Hidden fees, restrictions on the use of data, poorly written APIs and exchange requirements are just some of the factors, in addition to costs, that can make it difficult for new or small fintechs to survive.

To assist early stage fintech companies, Xignite is inviting these disruptors to leverage the same technology and data APIs that have helped move the industry forward over the last decade. Through this program, companies can continue to develop their ideas and products without a significant capital commitment. Participants will be able to take advantage of development access for 60 days on Xignite’s most popular financial data APIs and enjoy significant discounts on fees for the first year. Also included in the program is access to real-time, 15-minute delayed and end-of-day stock prices, company data, currency exchange rates, indices, corporate actions and master data.

“Not only are we offering a compelling financial incentive, but companies will have access to the experts on our Product and Engineering team who not only first brought financial market data to the cloud, but also helped support and power some of the biggest disruptors in the industry such as SoFi, Robinhood and Betterment,” said Ryan Burdick, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Sales at Xignite. “By introducing this program, Xignite is able to support the next wave of entrepreneurs by helping to keep their visions moving forward as seamlessly as possible during this unprecedented time.”

About Xignite

Xignite Makes Market Data Easy. Xignite is leading the disruption of the market data industry with its AWS-based financial data distribution and market data management solutions. Xignite’s Market Data Cloud Platform provides market data managers full transparency on the usage of a firm's first-level real-time and reference data - making it easy for data owners to entitle, control consumption, comply with licensing requirements, allocate costs, and resolve vendor audits or invoice discrepancies. Xignite also powers financial data-driven robo-advisors, online brokerages, and investing apps with its real-time, delayed and historical pricing data offered via 500+ REST Cloud APIs. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

07/14/2020

NICE Actimize Gains Agility and Scalability Bringing its Real-time Market Data Infrastructure to the Cloud

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today announced the launch of Xignite Enterprise Microservices, a powerful suite of cloud-native market data management services built to transform how firms store, distribute, manage and control market and financial data in the cloud. NICE Actimize, the leading global provider of financial crime, risk and compliance solutions is the first user of the new Real-time Microservice solution.

Microservices are an architectural approach in which core functionality is handled by loosely coupled, independently deployable components that can work together or separately. Because you can deploy microservices as separate functional units, you can pick and choose the functionality you want and scale them massively at the lowest possible cost. Microservices stand in stark contrast with monolithic platforms that require many dedicated on-premise servers which are expensive to manage, often under-utilized, can’t scale on-demand and require frequent updates and upgrades for even minor changes. Most enterprise platforms also require firms to pay for capabilities that are not needed.

The Xignite Enterprise Microservices run on Xignite’s battle-tested cloud-based architecture that currently supports more than 250 different data sources and 12 billion API calls per day for over 750 fintech and financial services clients. Financial institutions can now leverage the same cloud technology Xignite has been refining and scaling for more than 10 years to move their own financial and market data to the cloud. Xignite’s microservices are built from the ground up for the cloud, in contrast with legacy data providers that are attempting to “lift and shift” their monolithic platforms for that purpose.       

Xignite Enterprise Microservices are vendor-agnostic and can bring transformative results to any data set a firm may license or collect from vendors such Bloomberg, FactSet, ICE Data Services, SIX Financial, Vela Trading, QuantHouse and many others, as well as in-house proprietary data.

“We are incredibly excited to launch Xignite Enterprise Microservices, which we believe will truly revolutionize market data management,” said Stephane Dubois, Founder and CEO of Xignite. “The culmination of over 10 years of nonstop innovation, we have taken the cloud-native architecture that has powered some of world’s most prominent fintechs and scaled it to meet the unique requirements of institutional players that consume huge amounts of data but often have no way of integrating and optimizing it in an efficient and cost-effective way. Firms are no longer required to hitch their wagon to a single provider – instead, they can use a combination of our microservices to secure all the benefits they would get from a rigid legacy offering. We are the only vendor offering a suite of market data management microservices that clients can mix and match to create a comprehensive, infinitely scalable cloud-based solution that meets their exact needs. We firmly believe that offerings like these are the future of market data, and we are thrilled to once again take a leading role in the financial services industry’s continued digital transformation.”

The suite includes seven cloud-native microservices targeted to buy-side, sell-side and fintech firms, as well as exchanges:

  • Xignite Data Lake Microservice is a cloud-native data management and distribution solution that centralizes existing data and enables financial services firms to provide easy access to the data via highly scalable cloud APIs, reducing costs and improving efficiency by eliminating legacy infrastructure.
  • Xignite Optimization Microservice is a cloud-native pricing and reference data cost optimization solution that enables the control of large reference data sets, such as Bloomberg Data License, via intelligent caching, sophisticated entitlements and advanced analytics and reporting.
  • Xignite Entitlements and Usage Microservice is a cloud-native market data access control and reporting solution that enables financial services firms to have complete control and transparency of data consumption and usage, and provides reports of data usage across various data sets, users and applications to ensure vendor compliance.
  • Xignite Reference Microservice is a cloud-native solution that aggregates, normalizes, stores and indexes reference data from multiple vendors across all asset classes into a centralized repository and access layer, enabling centralized access across the entire enterprise and improving data consistency, completeness and timeliness.
  • Xignite Historical Microservice is a cloud-native time-series data management solution that enables financial services firms to capture historical data from different sources and integrate with security master and corporate actions data to provide a fully normalized, stitched and adjusted historical data view via highly scalable cloud APIs.
  • Xignite Real-Time Microservice is a cloud-native real-time data distribution solution that enables financial services firms to distribute real-time data internally and externally via highly scalable and flexible cloud APIs, eliminating on-premise infrastructure.
  • Xignite Fundamentals Microservice is a cloud-native data management solution that enables financial services firms to capture simple or complex time-series data structures associated with an entity such as a regional level security or issuer, and make them available via specialized and highly scalable cloud APIs.

These microservices are already transforming how the industry manages data. NICE Actimize, a leading provider of financial crime management solutions, has replaced its legacy solution with the Xignite Real-Time Microservice to onboard and manage multi-asset class, level 1 and 2 co-located feeds from multiple sources.

The launch of Xignite Enterprise Microservices is the latest highlight in what has been a hugely successful year for the firm. Last month, Xignite received a patent for its alerts technology and the company was named a SIIA CODiE Awards finalist and added to the WealthTech 100 list.

About Xignite
Xignite Makes Market Data Easy. Xignite is leading the disruption of the market data industry with its AWS-based financial data distribution and market data management solutions. Xignite’s Market Data Cloud platform provides market data managers full transparency on the usage of a firm's first-level real-time and reference data - making it easy for data owners to entitle, control consumption, comply with licensing requirements, allocate costs, and resolve vendor audits or invoice discrepancies. Xignite also powers financial data-driven robo-advisors, online brokerages, and investing apps with its real-time, delayed and historical pricing data offered via 500+ REST Cloud APIs. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

07/08/2020