The inaugural FinTech Wales Foundry accelerator, created in partnership with Admiral Pioneer, Principality Building Society and Cardiff Capital Region, has now completed its 2021 programme.
The Foundry accelerator concluded at its Demonstration Day event at Tramshed Tech.
Highlights from this year’s programme include:
- Eight companies accelerated, and now have a combined market size of £2.5 billion
- 12 new senior roles have been created in Wales, with 20 hires during Foundry program
- The cohort has generated a £9 million fundraising pipeline with venture capitalists and angels
Featuring a cohort of eight companies – Wagonex, Zing Cover, Sero, Yimba, Voltric, ShipShape, Laytrip and Viaduct – the 12 week, non-funded programme took founders and their teams on a ‘whistlestop tour’ of the Welsh FinTech ecosystem. Through this, the cohort were connected with 42 supporting companies and organisations and more than 100 seasoned mentors from business, venture capital, academia and the public sector.
Over the course of the programme, the companies in the inaugural cohort, which were selected from more than 150 applicants across 27 countries, have participated in a meet and greet with Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP, a private pitching event with regional investors, and attended over 30 bespoke workshops from the likes of EY, Microsoft, IBM, Confused.com, Stripe, Capital Law and the Welsh Government, designed to support the ventures in their business development, marketing and fundraising.
Under the banner of ‘Scale In Wales’ the FinTech Wales Foundry negotiated in excess of £400,000 of credits that can be spent by the cohort to help reduce the cost of critical cloud software products such as Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. Founders of the companies have also benefited from additional support from mentors, including the use of free office space at locations around Wales and office hours from multiple legal experts and technology specialists.
In total, the FinTech Wales Foundry facilitated 132 introductions to various key stakeholders in the fintech ecosystem and helped to elevate the status of the companies in the cohort, resulting in two closing their fundraising rounds and others securing possible business agreements of various sizes during the course of the programme.
Half the cohort companies have announced expansion plans with new jobs opening over the next few months as they continue to explore multiple commercial opportunities with various Foundry partners.
Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO of FinTech Wales, said: “With Cardiff having recently been highlighted as an emerging cluster in the UK Strategic Fintech Review led by Ron Kalifa. Fintech Wales through our first Accelerator programme are delighted to to showcase these amazing Fintech’s all of which are embracing Open Banking, driving innovation and demonstrating the strength of the cluster here in Wales. We will build on this inaugural programme as we drive to establish Wales as a globally recognised Fintech Hub of excellence.”
Foundry partner Iain Mansfield, Chief Operating Officer at Principality Building Society said: “We’re proud to be a founding member of the Fintech Wales Foundry and it’s been great to be involved with the first cohort, seeing them progress and continue to grow their companies and thinking. The Fintech ecosystem is growing rapidly here in Wales, with Fintech Wales and the Foundry at the centre of this. We’re excited to see more Fintechs start and scale in Wales, working with them and learning from them as we embrace digital at the heart of our business. Having selected Sero into the programme, we’ve worked with them over the past three months, understanding how we can support our members to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes. We look forward to seeing this partnership develop.”
Foundry partner Ellie Marsh, Insight Lead at Admiral Pioneer said: “It’s been a great first year with the FinTech Wales foundry. We’ve had the privilege of getting to know and working with some amazing start-ups and it really feels like we’ve kickstarted the FinTech ecosystem in Wales. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the companies we’ve sponsored into the programme and cannot wait for next year where I’m sure we’ll continue to grow the start-up ecosystem here and work with even more exciting start-ups.”
Foundry partner Simon Lavin, Project Manager at Cardiff Capital Region said: “CCR is committed to helping grow and develop the strengths and potential of the FinTech cluster in the region. We are working closely with FinTech Wales to better understand the challenges and opportunities for all stakeholders involved. One such area emerging very clearly is the need to create an attractive and enabling environment for our bright, smart, and ambitious entrepreneurs, and indeed those from outside the region wishing to locate here. We want to enable them to take their brilliant, and oftentimes seemingly crazy ideas and ambitions, and with their drive and some support , turn them into flourishing viable and innovative businesses. Our joint aspiration is to make CCR ’the“ place for these exciting people with their exciting dreams to succeed. The Foundry Accelerator has been invaluable in demonstrating in practice what we believed through our engagement with the industry was the right thing to do. With the right motivation, support and leadership together and an appetite to push through challenges success is there for the seizing. Not only have we proved to ourselves as a collective the realisation of the possible, equally as important we have learned lessons. These lessons will be baked into our continuous improvement approach. We have great ambitions for FinTech, this is just another step towards realising them.”
FinTech Wales Foundry accelerator cohorts:
Toby Kernon, CEO of Wagonex said: “The Foundry accelerator programme seems to have flown by in a nanosecond. An intense, informative and exciting experience that has helped open doors, raise investment and seed the beginnings of long-term partnerships with some very well established companies. Our new friends at FinTech Wales have put in an incredible effort, we were delighted to be part of the first cohort and I would thoroughly recommend applying to the next one.”
Daniel Sawko, CEO of ShipShape said: “Being part of the Fintech Wales Foundry has enabled us to forge a new path for our business. Our trajectory has been elevated, we’ve secured investment, we’re approaching £1m in commercial pipeline from basically £0 at the start of the Foundry, we’ve been unlocked from numerous inhibiting factors. We’ve leveraged the brilliant networks and we’ve taken inspiration from some of the most influential technology business leaders. My recommendation is this, if you want to grow your business, choose to start it in Wales, and choose to scale in Wales.”
Julian Mensah, CEO of Voltric said: “Being part of the Foundry has added to our credibility which has opened incredible opportunities for us. From securing further investment to new partnerships, the welsh ecosystem has been very welcoming and we are looking forward to our continued relationship with FinTech Wales.”
Matt Nunney, CTO of Zing Cover said: “We hoped that joining the FinTech Wales Foundry would provide us with some support to accelerate our journey to becoming a fully-fledged, scalable consumer insurance platform. It’s safe to say that the Foundry has met these expectations and so much more. Through leveraging the ready and open access to market leading companies and pioneering business leaders we’ve further developed our tech and insurance stacks, built out our partnership pipeline and expanded our team and advisory network to help progress our next fundraise. Scaling in Wales has been an absolute pleasure – many thanks to the entire FinTech Wales Foundry team, we look forward to continuing our journey with you into the future!”
Jonathan Allan, Chief Product Officer of Yimba said: “Yimba is a multimedia and marketing solution that uniquely leverages mobile banking and digital wallet platforms to connect consumers to brands and organisations they love. Our vision is to deliver Personalised and Aggregated services to bank customers making their shopping experience and engagement with the world more personalised, relevant, and fun. We are launching with our first partner in the next few weeks and expect at least a million unique users on the platform in 2022. The time we have spent with the Foundry, engaging with key team members and participating experts has been invaluable. From the fantastic insights through to the support provided by Foundry partners, Yimba has truly benefited from the Foundry and being a Welsh Business as a whole. And, while we will be graduating from the programme, we look forward to continuing our engagement with the Foundry as alumni and to scaling our business in Wales.”