#Biztalk: Amy Neale, Senior Vice President at Mastercard, tells us how the fintechs acceleration program Start Path helps startups to build their success

It is with great honor that we interview Amy Neale, Senior Vice President at Mastercard and Director of the global team for Start Path, Mastercard’s fintechs acceleration program. We were the first Luxembourg company to be invited to join this program. This is how we started our cooperation with one of the leaders in the global payments industry. Amy tells us how the selection process for the Start Path program works and especially how it helps and accompanies young companies to develop through the Mastercard network.

As a leader of the Start Path team, could you please tell us what was at the origin of this initiative?

Mastercard has a strong track record of working with fintechs across the globe; we see fantastic synergy between the fintech mission and Mastercard’s goals. Start Path is one program within a suite of tools we have designed to help fintechs accelerate the way they’re changing the world. We designed Start Path to enable us to work with the best and brightest fintechs through a six-month program, co-innovating and uncovering opportunities that leverage Mastercard’s technology, expertise and network.

Could you please introduce us to the selection process of the startups for the Start Path program?

We source companies through a variety of means – through our trusted network of VC’s and accelerator programs across the world; through our colleagues across the company; and through the portfolio of 250 companies that have already participated in Start Path who recommend the program to their networks. We then bring applicants through a tried and tested evaluation process to understand what they’re building and the traction they’re able to demonstrate. We meet about 1500 companies each year and select between 30 and 40 to participate in the dedicated program.

At which lifecycle stage do you select the startups for this program?

Typically participating companies have already raised venture capital funding, have demonstrated track record, and are ready to scale. That means our companies are sometimes seed stage but more often Series A. Precise stage is less important than their traction, runway and ability to execute. Companies that have participated in Start Path have gone one to raise $2.9B in capital after the program which we believe demonstrates how we’re able to add value to their path to success.

What are the main challenges you encountered with Start Path?

Finding great companies beyond the established startup hotspots can be challenging. We work hard to ensure that not only do we identify the best companies in established hubs like Silicon Valley, London, Israel and Singapore, but that we find fantastic fintech entrepreneurs wherever they are building. We know that fintech innovation often comes from the challenges that people have faced themselves, and so emerging markets are wonderful places to find great nascent companies. Alongside this challenge of geography, we also know that diverse teams build better companies, so we’re tackling the challenge of identifying startup teams that have diversity at their core.

How does Mastercard organize coaching and mentoring of startups during the program?

At Mastercard we have access to an amazing network of experienced people within financial services and beyond. As well as pairing our participating startups with a ‘sponsor’ from the Start Path team we also open the doors to our entire company, and we bring in those from our customer base, all with the goal of providing not just coaching and mentorship, but collaboration and opportunity spotting to build partnerships of value for all.

Could you please give us some examples of the best success stories of Start Path?

We have witnessed success in many forms; from working with unicorn challenger bank Revolut back in 2016 when they had raised a couple of million dollars, to collaborations that democratize access to capital for women and minority-owned businesses with impact investment platform CNote. From companies like Previse with whom we’re collaborating around the challenges of supply chain capital, to companies like Doconomy who are building tools that will enable us all to combat climate change the spread is broad, and we’re immensely proud of all of these engagements.

You followed the development of our company (SnapSwap) since we joined Start Path in 2018. How would you describe the path of our collaboration with Mastercard?

Following the Start Path program, the engagement between Mastercard and SnapSwap has gone from strength to strength. I have been delighted to see SnapSwap’s journey from early stage startup to an established financial services player, and a Principal Mastercard Member. SnapSwap really exemplifies what’s possible when large and small organizations come together with the goal of co-innovation and partnership.

What would you say to startups that are considering applying for Start Path?

When you are applying, think carefully about what success looks like for you. The companies that get the most out of the program are those that really come on the journey with us and we have been able to build some amazing relationships as a result.

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