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Sean Wise: ‘Customers are the real people validating fintech ideas’

  • Dr. Sean Wise is a best-selling author and expert on startups.
  • He joins us to discuss his new best selling book, co-written with Brad Feld, Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job.
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As fintech explodes, figuring out what makes a worthwhile idea from one that should be passed on is tough.

On this episode of the Tearsheet podcast, Sean Wise, a university professor, bestselling author, international business speaker, and partner at Ryerson Futures, a seed stage venture capital fund and technology accelerator joined us to discuss the difference. Wise also spent five seasons as a consultant for CBC on venture reality show Dragons’ Den before moving in front of the camera as the host of the Naked Entrepreneur, which airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Wise joined us to talk about his new book, co-written with venture investor Brad Feld, called Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job. We discuss how fintech entrepreneurs, investors and partners can size up ideas, partner, and grow the next generation of financial services.

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Ideas aren’t good; people are
People come up to [Feld and me] and say, “Hey, you were on Dragons Den and Shark Tank. You’re an investor in Techstars. Is this startup idea any good?”

20 years ago, at the beginning of our careers in venture capital, we looked at analytics and checklists and we actually thought we could tell which ideas would succeed and which ones would fail. But that’s really last century. Now, the people who validate ideas are customers and end users. Combined with access to capital, we’re seeing a lot more opportunities for disruptive technologies to come to market.

Why partnerships can be the future
I spend a lot of time at Ryerson Futures, our university-based venture fund. We have a lot of investments and we typically do a lot of B2B work. In Canada, that means a lot of financial services because it’s a highly regulated industry in this country.

We use our university status to help get first, second, and third customers to our fintech companies — similar to how Tel Aviv University has a Barclays Techstars accelerator. Barclays uses this to see dealflow and innovation flow that can later be disruptive. But they’re also using it as a first customer, as a way to test things. Imagine all the innovations that could kill you offering to partner with you. I bet Blockbuster would have made a different decision if Netflix had come along in the early days and offered to partner.

 

 

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