My Experience at Finovate Fall 2021

After almost 18 months of partial or total isolation as a result of the COVID pandemic, attending the Finovate Fall conference in person on September 13-15, 2021 was a wonderful experience.

In many ways, the COVID pandemic thankfully had a positive impact on Fundica: it underscored the strong need for online fintech solutions, highlighted the importance of government funding for businesses of all sizes, focused our energy on delivering next generation products to awaiting clients, and enabled us to recruit some outstanding talent. Despite this, like so many others, we had to work and juggle our worlds primarily from the confines of our homes, sometimes feeling like our entire lives took place on the 2D surface of our computer screens.

When COVID rates began to decline significantly and restrictions eased up, we applied for a live demo spot on the main stage at Finovate Fall 2021. This was an exciting opportunity, as Finovate Fall, held in New York City annually, showcases many of the up-and-coming fintechs and thought leaders in the finance community.

Shortly after that we were thrilled to learn that we had been selected to demo in front of over 1,000 people at Finovate. However, as the weeks went by leading up to the event, the COVID numbers began to rise rapidly in the United States – particularly in New York. We debated the trip daily, but ultimately, reassured by New York’s high vaccination rates and policies, we decided to make the trip.

It felt great to be able to step on a plane again, fly to New York, and step into the bustling city with Tom Poitras (our VP of Business Development). We went to visit the convention site the day before the conference for a dry run of my live demo on the main stage. The rehearsal went fine, but my presentation was not as refined as I would have liked. In fact, like many entrepreneurs, I was also juggling a number of immediate business challenges related to hiring, prospects, and product development that were also competing for my time.

I thought it may have been quite awkward to attend the event, but a number of factors make it a lot easier: the city of New York had mandated (starting on the first day of the event) that all conference participants be vaccinated, the organizers had done a great job of planning out the space, and most participants wore masks (at least to start). As such, my mind was certainly more focused on the presentation than the virus as the event opened.

The live demo on the main stage went well, although I would not say perfectly. You can watch the entire presentation here. A number of conference attendees approached me following the demo. At that point, I was also able to relax a little more and focus on networking for the rest of the event. I met a number of interesting prospects, but there was definitely some awkwardness: at times in figuring out how to meet in this hybrid online/offline event, meeting someone in person (mask/no mask, handshake/elbow knock/no contact), and relearning how to actually communicate effectively face-to-face. I must say that finding the right person was challenging but meeting with them became more and more natural with time.

Overall, I had a great experience at Finovate Fall and would encourage any executive of an early stage fintech startup to attend the event given the opportunity. I met less perfectly qualified leads than those that I would have likely met were it not for COVID reducing the in-person attendance, but in the end the connections I did make were somehow more meaningful. It was also interesting to observe how we connect and like to connect with people now that the world has somewhat returned to normal. In the end, my time spent at Finovate Fall was well worth it – and a lot of fun.

Read the original post on LinkedIn