May is among the investors on stage at the FinTech Forum event on 18th Nov. 2021 at the Airport Club, Frankfurt: check out the line-up and register here.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.
I’m an investor at Fin VC, a B2B Fintech/Insurtech focused global venture capital, based out of San Francisco. Fin VC is a team of FinTech nerds with capital, based in SF/NYC and focus on FinTech SaaS in the US and EU/UK. We deploy out of 3 strategies: Regatta (pre-seed, checks of $100K-$1M), Flagship (Early Stage – Seed->B, checks of $1-10M) and Horizons (Growth – C+, checks of $25-50M+, primary/secondary) and have an operating value playbook focused on global BD, corp dev, capital formation, product/GTM, key talent sourcing, and board leadership.
Personally, I’m an avid traveler and a global citizen who has lived in 4 countries across 3 continents. When not at work, you’ll find me hiking/surfing in the summer and skiing in the winter. I’m also mentoring students from underrepresented communities, and an advisor at a Uganda-based NGO.
2. What are your focus areas, overall and within the FinTech space?
Given our Enterprise SaaS focus, I focus on 6 verticals within fintech that we identify as key priorities for our investing/BD opportunities – Embedded finance, asset management/capital markets, CFO tech stack, Insurtech, Blockchain enterprise application, Enabling tech (regtech/core infrastructure/AI-ML etc).
3. Any recent deals that you would like to share with us, and why you invested?
We’ve made 10+ investments from our early-stage strategies recently and continue to be active in the US/European markets. For example, we invested in the seed round of citizen payment, an UK-based online payment platform that has developed an automated method for bank transfer acceptance. We believe that with PSD2 regulation, mandating that retail banks open up their APIs to Account Information and Payment Initiation Service Providers (AISPs and PISPs), has created a wave of innovation in the European fintech industry, especially for the regulated services payment space given the particular challenges of reconciliation and security. We believe Citizen is at the right position and has the right team to disrupt the bank transfer space for online merchants in the highly regulated services.
4. Which are the trends to watch out for in the next 6-18 months?
We are excited about the opportunities brought to both fintechs and traditional financial institutions by open banking, and the further evolution from open banking to open finance – faster and more customized financial services based on the open banking infrastructure. As an UN PRI signatory and ESG compliant VC firm, we also believe Europe is the leading market at the intersection of sustainability/ESG and financial services, and actively looking to partner with innovative companies solving the pain points in the financial industry.
5. Your advice to European founders looking to scale up and raise funds?
Global expansion is a key theme as well as challenge for most Europe-based startups. I recommend founders to think early at the org/product development cycle and incorporate the future scaling/expansion into the roadmap – For example building a flexible infrastructure with a translation engine on top that allows another language and local services to be added easily. Also when entering another market, make sure you understand the customer demand and localization needs thoroughly, without falling into the trap of reusing the existing playbook that made you successful in the original market.
6. What’s on your bookshelf/ reading list?
I recently finished reading Bad Blood – a thrilling real-life story about the scams and frauds behind a once $10-billion-dollar startup. It deepened my thinking on a lot of topics including leadership, corporate culture, human relationships, ethics, and how to avoid blind spots as an investor. The next book on my list is The Ride of a Lifetime by former Disney CEO Robert Iger.
7. Your favorite place for a coffee and/ or a drink?
When I go back to New York I always check out Ad-hoc (https://www.adhoccollective.com/) in West Village, Manhattan.