Grindstone Accelerator

Grindstone Accelerator Workshop and FNB Business

FNB supports entrepreneurs with insights about tech and banking; #thisiswhywehelp

The 4th Grindstone Accelerator workshop was held at ENS Africa’s offices in Cape Town, attended by techpreneurs such as Xuviate, Autopilot, Fonk and Picsa.

A range of experts presented agenda topics such as intellectual property, due diligence, tax and culture, all of which aimed at assisting these businesses achieve profitable scale.

FNB is a co-sponsor of the Grindstone Accelerator program which is run by Knife Capital and supports 10 businesses with a turnover above R1m.

These business owners are looking for growth insights through coaching, networks and thought leadership.

This Product and Technical workshop was aimed at providing this support and FNB Business was on hand to present on technology and banking to help uplift these entrepreneurs.

Waldo Steyn from ENS also spoke at the workshop about Intellectual Property law and showed the dramatic rise of the proportion of intangible assets in global market capitalisation.

He stressed the importance of entrepreneurs securing the intellectual property behind the intangible assets they create such as literary works, designs and especially software.

Technology and its innovative impact is the reason that other high growth, exponential businesses such as Uber is the biggest transport company but owns no vehicles or the largest popular media owner Facebook which creates no content.

The world is being disrupted by companies who have leveraged their software IP and achieved exponential growth in their industries, usually through digitisation of of asset-lite services.

These were some of the topics that FNB talked about at the accelerator workshop with the entrepreneurs who were also looking for specific insights from the banking world.

FNB continues to drive innovation through digital banking platforms that successfully reduce its customer’s dependencies on physical infrastructure such as branches.

We presented popular winner / loser case studies such as Instagram / Kodak, Apple / Blackberry and Netflix / Blockbuster which are insightful for potential high growth businesses wanting to be the next mega tech unicorn.

Kodak, a global leader in  photography was disrupted by the rise of digital photography, a new technology they failed to anticipate.

Whatsapp’s 45 employees created a socially minded digital communications service that is already threatening the business models of traditional, large scale telecommunications companies.

Financial Services is also experiencing similar threats through the rise of fintech such as Blockchain, Artificial intelligence, robotics and other advanced technologies.

Banking is responding well to these challenges through partnerships, incentivising internal innovation, new technology investments and creating progressive organisational cultures through agile work methods.

JP Morgan have launched an internal intelligence program that parses contracts in a fraction of the time taken by its large workforce of human lawyers.

We presented examples at large South African banks of how Agile software development and iterative design is delivering more customer centric products with faster time to market.

Blockchain was a topic of discussion during the FNB presentation, as possibly an inflection point for the banking industry.

Also known as Distributed Ledger Technology, blockchain enables instantaneous peer to peer sharing of value, a common form factor of this is Bitcoin.

The business owners at the workshop were also interested in how FNB is creating ecosystems of partnerships and networks to support the co-creation of new business models based on disruptive tech.

FirstRand’s Alphacode is a good example of a fintech incubator for post startup businesses looking to benefit from networks and increased access to funding opportunities.

A common question was also about how well FNB works with partners and if “the little guy” had a hope of succeeding in an industry that appears to favour incumbents and large players.

A strong focus in the discussion was how well the large, siloed organisations such as banks can drive innovation and if there is a role for SMEs.

FNB’s highly empowered, owner manager culture supports the idea of horizontal integration and collaboration across functional and product lines.

The entrepreneurs showed keen interest in disruptive innovative events such as FNB Codefest when internal teams could bring in smaller tech firms to help build prototypes in the 48 hour coding marathon.

Another example of helping the SME sector is the annual FNB Business Innovation Awards in partnership with Endeavour, which rewards high growth companies such as Wigroup and GreatSoft CRM.

Through these initiatives, as well as the recent Grindstone Accelerator workshop, FNB is proud to help small businesses with technology insights so they can grow and create jobs.

This is why we help.

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