Innovation, Podcasts

Mastercard’s Amy Neale: ‘We make it easy for the best startups to say yes to what we have to offer’

  • Many innovation programs make direct investments in fintech startups.
  • Mastercard found that resources, not money, is a better investment.
close

Email a Friend

Mastercard’s Amy Neale: ‘We make it easy for the best startups to say yes to what we have to offer’

There’s been a bull market in innovation programs launched by large financial institutions over the past couple of years.  Most of these programs involve an FI making a strategic investment in a fintech. Then everyone gets to work helping the fintech navigate the organization to glean its resources.

Mastercard’s Start Path program is a different animal. No money changes hands, as the payments company found that its internal resources and focus on shepherding were way more important than money for fintech companies in its innovation program. There’s a lot of hands-on work to help startups launch desirable and commercially-viable products.

The head of Mastercard’s Start Path program, Amy Neale, joins us on the podcast this week.

SubscribeiTunes I SoundCloud I Spotify
The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The Start Path program

We are a team across Mastercard based out of Dublin in Europe, New York in North America, Singapore covering Asia Pacific, and Dubai in the Middle East and Africa. Our team keeps its eye on startups and offers promising later-stage companies a virtual six month program. The purpose of this program is to engage and introduce the startups to Mastercard and the subject matter expertise we have within our organization. More importantly, we look for opportunities to work with the startups that we bring through the program.

We’ve been running for five years and recently opened up Start Path to Mastercard customers. We provide these companies access to what we’re seeing in the startup space and offer startups some channels to market through Mastercard’s broad ecosystem.

Cashless acceleration program

No money changes hands. When we started out, we looked at other corporate accelerator programs which modeled Techstars and Y Combinator. Corporates were buying small pieces of equity in really early stage companies, but this type of program wasn’t quite right for us.

We realized quickly that while early stage startups are super cool, later stage firms — ones that raised significant seed rounds or their series A — were more relevant for what Mastercard is trying to do. Those types of companies have a product in market, think about international scale, and have capital in the bank where they’re not worried about running out of money. That’s our sweet spot.

For this stage of company, you’re definitely not looking to take money from a big strategic investor right out of the blocks. Instead, you’re much more interested on the type of commercial opportunities that you can work on together. We wanted to make it easy to the best startups to say yes to our offer.

So, there’s no money changing hands except for a small travel stipend for our startups to help them attend our meetups that we convene.

How Start Path works

We take startups through a pretty rigorous evaluation program prior to joining Start Path. We see about 2000 startups every year and choose 40 to work with. To start, we bring all our startups to a physical location for a week. We call that our kickoff deep dive.

Over the course of that week, we spend time understanding what their challenges are and what they’re looking to deliver over the next six to twelve months. Out of that, we develop a bespoke plan with each of the startups we engage with.

Then, the startup is assigned a Mastercard sponsor — someone who becomes their buddy, advisor, mentor, and door opener over the course of the program. We work together hard on four to five different areas: things like regulation, potential proofs of concept and pilots with Mastercard, or devise a joint go-to-market plan with them.

We can also introduce them to customers, so it’s very important for us to understand their targets and growth potential. Then we can connect them into that broad ecosystem, as well.

0 comments on “Mastercard’s Amy Neale: ‘We make it easy for the best startups to say yes to what we have to offer’”

Podcasts

‘We’re increasingly focused on connecting banks, businesses and innovative partners in a collaborative ecosystem’: Bottomline’s Norm DeLuca

  • Historically, banks have not found a good model to service small businesses.
  • Bottomline's GM of digital banking solution joins the podcast to talk about creating technology ecosystems around banks for SMBs.
Zachary Miller | April 14, 2021
Finance Everywhere, Podcasts

‘It’s a no brainer to add a virtual card into the travel product’: TripActions’ Michael Sindicich

  • TripActions serves the Fortune 500 with modern travel and expense management.
  • Tearsheet caught up with the GM of Liquid, the firm's payment product.
Zachary Miller | April 07, 2021
Podcasts

‘You’re best having a cannabis banking program, not a project’: The ins and outs of banking cannabis with Regent Bank’s Keri Cain

  • Regulations still make cannabis banking a complicated process that's tough to scale.
  • Regent Bank, a small outfit in OK, has found a way to use technology to grow its cannabis banking program.
Zachary Miller | April 05, 2021
Podcasts

Behind the Marqeta partnership with Deserve’s Kalpesh Kapadia

  • Deserve is a pureplay credit card as a service firm.
  • With a recent partnership with Marqeta, CEO Kalpesh Kapadia joins the Tearsheet Podcast to discuss growth opportunities.
Zachary Miller | March 25, 2021
Podcasts

‘Embedded fintech works in the inverse direction’: Why banks should integrate SaaS with Autobooks’ Derik Sutton

  • Software firms are increasingly integrating with payment and banking solutions.
  • But what if that was reversed -- what if more banks integrated with fintech solutions? Autobooks' Derik Sutton explains.
Tearsheet Editors | March 22, 2021
More Articles