Octopus Ventures’ Nick Sando on Fintech Valuations and Building a Great VC Team

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

One of the best ways to take the temperature of an industry is by talking to those helping fund it. Our conversation at FinovateEurope last month with Nick Sando, a member of the Future of Money team at Octopus Ventures, was a great opportunity to find out what venture capital is focusing on in 2020.

Octopus Ventures is one of the largest VCs in Europe and invests primarily in seed and Series A investments, two to five million. The firm has three principal focus areas: the Future of Health (health and wellness investments), DeepTech (industry 4.0) and fintech (or “Future of Money” of which Sando is a part), including payments, insurtech, credit, lending, and blockchain. “We’re pretty agnostic across the space,” Sando said.

Sando arrived at Octopus Ventures in 2018, after a career in which he founded companies like SaaS beauty and wellness platform Mojo and retail platform SnagTag. He notes that the benefit of co-founding two businesses what that it provided him with a “crash course in company building.” Sando added, “we had successes, failures, raised funding, and exited, all in a short space of time.” He has earned a double major in Finance and Economics from the University of Miami School of Business.

Asked where he and his fellow panelist on our All-Star Venture Capital panel believe the smart money is headed this year, Sando replied with a smile, “Well, there is always the theme ‘Is there correction coming?’ And there a lot of people who think that there is. So the smart money is probably the money that’s still there at the end of it!”

Here are some of the top takeaways from my conversation with Nick Sando this year at FinovateEurope in Berlin.

On valuations in fintech companies and the IPO v.s. acquisition debate

Sando: Investors (should) … look at businesses which are trading at multiples which, if they went public, they would be receiving the same multiples. In fintech, some of them are getting too large to be acquired. So going public is route to go down. I look at some of the challenger banks, for example. Who’s going to acquire them? They are so big now! I think the IPO route should be back on.

On the role of venture capital in helping startups become better businesses

Sando: Having such a large fund gives us the benefit of being able to invest into certain roles across the board. The most commonly helpful role that we can provide outside of money is generally hiring. We have various people, and a whole hiring function in Octopus – and that’s not for our internal hiring, its for our help our portfolio companies hire.

In fintech, these companies are global companies with big ambitions, so traveling for example, from Europe to the States is on nearly all of these company’s roadmaps. Therefore we have set up an office, for example, in the States which is purely just to help those companies make these transitions.

So I think, given there are so many fintech investors in the market, as a fintech founder, I’d ask myself, “I should really be getting a little bit more than cash, these days!” Because they deserve it.

On what makes for a successful and creative venture capital team

Sando: A VC team should be made up of very different thinkers. If you have a VC team with all the same way of thinking, you might as well just have one of those people. What a team needs, therefore, is whatever it lacks.

We generally lean toward people who are intensely curious, have a different opinion than ours, see the world differently – maybe they grew up somewhere else, maybe they were a founder themselves – I think over half our team (are founders) … I think that’s what makes really great investment teams as a whole, when people can argue and talk and debate different ways of thinking.

Watch the full, six-minute interview on Finovate TV.

Hear it from the Experts: The Future of Fintech and Inclusivity

Throughout Finovate Live, we’ve heard from experts on a whole host of fintech hot topics, including new technology like AI and robotics, as well as analysis on what is happening in retail banking and trends driving innovation at such a fast pace. What can often be lacking are the voices exploring the moral and ethical justifications around technology deployments, and the consideration around how we can ensure that all the advancements in the finance industry will benefit everyone. Here, we bring you conversations centering around the future of fintech and why it is so important to have these conversations now. 

 Tan Le, Founder and CEO at EMOTIV on why its important to ensure new technology is inclusive

Olga Miler, former MD and Global Programme Architect at UBS Wealth Management on improving women’s customer experience within finance

Giulio Montemagno, Head of Europe at Amazon Pay on deviceless transactions and the future of voice technology

Harrie Vollard, Head of Rabo Frontier Ventures at Rabobank on what start-ups in accelerators need to focus on to be successful

FinovateEurope 2019: Find the Next Big Thing

Over 1000 fintech professionals joined us in London for FinovateEurope 2019. We saw the best of the Europe’s fintech through unique, short-form demos and learned from expert speakers on banking, regtech, payments, customer experience, investech, open banking and AI.

We’ll see you next at FinovateSpring, returning back to San Francisco this May 8 – 10. Find out more about our demoing companies, our expert roster of speakers, and our cutting-edge agenda.

Finovate Europe 2013 Best of Show Winners Named

FinovateEurope.jpgOur third FinovateEurope wrapped up a few hours ago. At the end of each of the two jam-packed days, the London audience voted for their favorite three demos. The top eight overall were named Best of Show (see notes).

The winners (in alphabetic order):

  • Credit-Agricole for its app store where it is wooing outside developers
  • ETRONIKA for its BANKTRON e-channel management platform
  • mBank with Efigence for their Facebook & social platform 
  • Meniga for its PFM platform, including “buy” vs “not buy” feature
  • Moven (Movenbank) for the worldwide launch of its mobile-optimized bank
  • Pockets United for its group-purchasing-mobile solution
  • SumUp for its mobile point-of-sale system
  • Virtual Piggy for its kids’ payment system with parental controls

We’ll have videos of all 64 demos posted at Finovate.com within a few weeks.

Congratulations to the presenters for our first Finovate with zero demo fails (sure, there were a few glitches here and there). And thanks to everyone who attended, tweeted, networked, blogged, and set up an enormous number of post-show meetings. You are pushing fintech forward, and consumers everywhere will benefit.

———-

Notes on methodology
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.    
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.   
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.” 
4. The eight companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named Best of Show. 
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners.

FinovateEurope 2012 — Apply Now to Demo Your Newest Fintech Innovations Next Febuary in London

europe-blog.gif

With FinovateFall coming up in a couple of weeks (please get your ticket before it’s too late) and a ton of buzz about the dozens of innovations that will debut there, you might have might have missed that we’ve begun accepting demo applications for our second annual FinovateEurope conference next February in London.

After selling out of tickets for our debut European conference weeks ahead of the event and winning rave reviews from the attendees, we’ve reserved a much larger venue to showcase the best new ideas in European/global banking and financial technology.

Applications for the London conference have already started to flow in at a strong pace — well ahead of last year’s volume — and we expect to showcase a diverse range of new innovations again. If you’d like to apply to demo your latest and great fintech innovation at the event, please email us at demo@finovate.com for more details.

FinovateEurope 2012 is sponsored by: BlueRock Consulting

FinovateEurope 2012 is partners with: Deutsch Startups, The Financial Services Club, and the Financial Services Innovation Centre

Announcing FinovateEurope 2012 — February 7th in London! Get your ticket now to lock in your spot!

europe-blog.gif

We’re very excited to be returning to London next February for our second annual FinovateEurope conference. After selling out our debut European conference weeks in advance and winning rave reviews from attendees, next year’s event is not to be missed (get your ticket now to ensure you can attend — and save £400 via the lowest ticket prices we’ll offer).

For 2012, we’ve expanded to a larger and nicer venue right on the Thames river in central London so that you can watch fast-paced demonstrations of the best new ideas in European financial and banking technology in comfort. In addition, Finovate attendees have a chance to network with hundreds of leading financial executives, entrepreneurs, industry analysts, major press, bloggers, and venture capitalists.

If you’re a startup, established fintech company, or financial institution innovating in financial or banking technology, we’d love to have you apply to demo your latest and greatest at the conference. To get more details, please email us at demo@finovate.com.

If you’re interested in watching the future of financial and banking technology unfold live on stage (and can’t make it to FinovateFall in NYC in September) then get your pre-sale ticket today for FinovateEurope 2012 and save £400 off the list price. Tickets have already started to sell before this formal announcement and we don’t want you to miss out! We’ll see you in February!