It’s not enough to be #disruptive – you also have to #collaborate

For most tech #startups, especially in #fintech, it’s no longer just about being #disruptive – there’s a growing realization that entrepreneurs also have to be #collaborative.

One year on from his last visit to Melbourne, Stripe co-founder John Collison was back in conversation with Paul Bassat from Square Peg Capital, courtesy of Startup Victoria and sponsors Envato, LIFX, BlueChilli, Bank of Melbourne and PwC. Previously, John spoke about the need to be “disruptive rather than incumbent”, yet it seems that Stripe’s growing success can be attributed to relationships with other providers in the payments industry, such as AliPay and VISA, plus deals with retail sites such as Catch Of The Day and RedBalloon. Oh, and it probably helps that most U.S. presidential candidates are using Stripe for campaign donations….

Stripe has already launched an SDK platform for developers, and is planning to launch StripeConnect, a market place platform. The point being, the more users (upstream and downstream) you can plug into your platform, the greater the traction, but also the deeper the collaboration. Why would you want to annoy your potential partners, vendors and suppliers?

Meanwhile, Australia is now Stripe’s 4th largest market, and close to being its 3rd largest.

Going forward, despite some criticism (e.g., it’s still not rolled out in Australia), ApplePay has huge potential. It has an estimated 800m credit cards registered with iTunes (making it 5x bigger than PayPal), and with people currently paying as little as $1.69 per song download, ApplePay could crack the market for broader micropayments (e.g., the $2 on-line daily newspaper?).

However, Stripe stills sees that there are disconnects between traditional credit card application processes, account registration forms, payment solutions, merchant set-up and downstream payments for low-value (but high volume) transactions.

Looking ahead, Collison is talking up opportunities in same-day delivery for e-commerce (hard to see this happening outside of Australia’s main metro areas – unless the infrastructure is there…), and better video-conferencing services (again, in Australia this is hampered by poor broadband services).

A few days later, and Adrian Stone from AngelCube was in conversation with StartUpGrind‘s Melbourne convener, Chris Joannou. Adrian restated the sentiment that angel investors tend to back founders rather than ideas, which can seen by some of the ventures AngelCube has backed so far, including Tablo, LIFX and CoinJar. Each venture has been successful in raising early-stage funding (despite some teething problems and much pivoting), although AngelCube itself has not yet completed an exit.

Rather like his associate Dave McClure from 500 Startups, Adrian recognizes that for various reasons, VCs are having to make smaller, multiple bets, rather than betting the farm on single or a few ideas.

Perhaps this gives further credibility to the proposition that every portfolio (including individual members in retail and industry superannuation funds?) should have a discretionary 1-2% allocation to startups, but you still need an investment vehicle or platform to screen and manage opportunities. Sadly, we see that there is still a disconnect between institutional investors and startup founders. The former are having to get bigger to reduce operating costs, yet this means they have what one friend of mine has defined as the “Allocation Gap”. And of course, founders far outnumber the available sources of VC funding. Time for a rethink on how investors can collaborate to access startup opportunities?

Next week: Cultural Overload

 

 

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