Hey gang! A couple of us have semi-recently returned from LendIt: Fintech USA in San Francisco (the event was April 8-9). And, since the event was enormous (and, at least for us, successful), I thought a quick recap might be worth the keystrokes. Read on!
Our panel (and, a note of thanks):
So, we didn’t just attend; I was honored to moderate a panel with some incredible executives and entrepreneurs. This was the highlight of the week for me; even more special is how this came to be – a client requested of the show promoters that I moderate his panel. That’s really touching – I’m grateful to Brian Unruh and Dan Stevens, as well as the folks at LendIt for the vote of confidence!
Our discussion focused on the relationship between technology businesses (fintechs!) and mid-sized/regional lenders. More specifically, we looked at how these two very different types of businesses can partner to better compete with large, digital lenders. I love this topic. Having worked with many firms in each cohort (fintech businesses, large banks and regional ones), I knew going in that there are a number of interesting angles to this. And, WorkBook6 is a party to many analogous discussions in other industries (such as insurance and home services).
With a topic such as this one, the moderator’s job is to convey with both breadth and depth a compelling discussion in a short period of time. This can be a little intimidating, but our thoughtful and generous speakers made it simple. With Dan Stevens (from NBKC Bank), Jeff Douglas (Wyndham Capital Mortgage), Adam Pase (Notarize) and Ethan Ewing (Pro-Pair) there to carry the bulk of the load, I was really just there to help channel the discussion and serve up as close to an equal portion of everyone’s perspective. Easy peasy. Beyond my opening joke about pizza (which landed with a thud – more on this later), I thought it was awesome. And, super fun. My hat’s off to the panelists.
Enough about us – onto the show, at large:
LendIt rocks. Every show has its own areas for improvement, but overall, I was really impressed. The content sessions were well-attended and also, at least in my view, well-received. The audience was diverse in a few ways, and predictably not in others. I met with interesting people from all over the world, but as has shown to be true in many of the industries we operate within, there’s still a pretty wide gender gap. I’ll give the show promoters credit, though, as I did see several programming nods to bridging this gap, including the Women in Fintech event. Well done. Again, I really liked the way that this event came off. The folks at LendIt seem to have it really dialed in.
Shout out to the city by the bay:
After spending a lot of time in Las Vegas over the past few years for shows and speaking engagements, it was really nice to be in San Francisco. Nothing against Vegas, but it’s great to be able to walk around the city between sessions, meetings, etc. (as opposed to traversing a casino floor). San Francisco is really worth considering for any show or event looking to mix things up. This city flat-out knows how to host an event.
Uh, what’s fintech?
This might cause some eye rolling, but since a bunch of people have asked me, I thought I’d weigh in with some thoughts on the term ‘fintech,’ and what it might or might not be. (Caveat emptor: I’m no more qualified to answer this than anyone else who works in the category, but I’m gonna do it anyway.)
The term fintech is used to describe the broad and deep topic of technical innovation within the financial services industry. Oft-confused with insuretech (and akin to edtech, regtech, martech, adtech, etcetera), the term really just speaks to the interaction of emerging technology and a financial services industry held back by legacy systems. If it’s confusing to you, you’re not alone. The use of ‘fintech’ can be found in the wild as a noun (she runs a fintech), an adjective (it’s sort of fintech-y), and a verb (maybe we could fintech this sucker?). It’s used to describe a growing industry category, and also deployed to define businesses.
Finally, some quick hits:
Funniest moments (there were a few):
For me, it was my elevator ride to the industry awards gala. I thought I had the elevator to myself, but was soon joined by a very nice guy whose opinion of himself was off the charts bold. “Google me. I’m the godfather of fintech.” (I’ve got $50 for whoever guesses this person’s identity, but please do it privately!)
For Brett, it was when my opening line for our panel discussion was received by the opposite of laughter – or even acknowledgement. I guess fintechers don’t like talking about pizza. (By the way, I’m not punting on this – I’ll revive this one in a blog post, soon enough.)
Todd Nelson’s infamous bow-tie. Or is it an ascot?