This week on our Founder Feature series we are talking to Greg Watts, CEO and Co-founder of Findr – an AI platform that allows start-ups to automatically connect with prospective partners.
Findr’s technology aggregates data from multiple sources to provide a rich, single view of potential partners, then ‘match-makes’ if there is a common interest or appetite based on specific criteria.
Learn more about Findr below in our conversation with Mr Watts.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
A: I was previously head of market acceleration and partnerships for Visa Europe, where I created commercial partnerships with global retailers, banks and other organisations. Later, I founded Demand Creation Partners, a growth consultancy that helped fintechs accelerate their partnership efforts.
Findr was born out of a desire to automate the multiple, manual steps involved in creating effective, lasting partnerships – in other words, digitising the work I was doing at both Visa and Demand Creation Partners to drastically reduce the timescales involved.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
A: While I was at Visa, I found that even with the power of the brand and significant budgets behind us, creating partnerships was a resource-intensive process that could take 12-18 months. It was always in the back of my mind: how can you automate, simplify and accelerate that process?
Outside of Visa, I could see other companies – particularly fintechs and start-ups – struggling with the same thing. Some of the challenges included not being able to navigate the vast ecosystem of potential partners; not knowing who the key decision makers were; being unable to articulate a proposition, product or service effectively; and the short runway in which to set up partnerships before the cash ran out. It didn’t surprise me to learn that as many as 90% of start-ups fail in their first year, and I wanted to do something to help increase companies’ chances of survival and success.
So, I decided to apply AI and machine learning to resolve the problem, with the goal of reducing the months or years it can take to form a partnership to just minutes or hours.
Over Christmas 2019, I wrote an MVP and business plan, then pitched them to my technical co-founder who validated the idea, and Findr was born. We further validated the idea by speaking with companies such as Visa, Microsoft, leading banks, and of course, fintechs and start-ups. The overriding feedback was that there was a clear need for our platform. After that, things progressed quickly. We incorporated the business in March 2020 – just days before lockdown; onboarded Crunchbase as our founding data partner; initiated our first seed round; and signed up beta users. We plan to go live in September, initially targeting the UK fintech market, then launch into other verticals and geographic markets.
Our long-term vision is to become the global partnership matching platform for all businesses regardless of size or vertical.
Q: How has the current crisis affected your business and how have you had to adapt?
A: We obviously didn’t expect to launch Findr in the middle of a global pandemic. However, our virtual partnership approach eliminates the requirement for face-to-face interactions, providing a safe solution for business continuity, and one that supports the expected increase in digital collaboration as the pandemic subsides. Needless to say, that model has been part of our appeal.
Q: What is the core technology driving your start-up’s product/service?
A: We’re using AI and machine learning technologies to create a unique matching algorithm that overcomes an age-old business challenge: cold prospecting. At Findr, we know what types of partnerships businesses are looking for, and we know who the key decision-makers are within these organizations.
The user experience looks like this: After signing up to Findr, users can search for their company profile and edit that profile with information about their company and the type of partnerships they’re looking for. Then, they’re presented with a list of partners that match that criteria and can click on profiles to access a rich, single view of the business. They can then request to be connected or ‘matched’ with prospects if there is common interest or appetite based on specified criteria.
A match will only ever be made with a decision-maker who has expressed an interest in a particular product or service: effectively, a warm lead. Once a match is made, both parties can book a Discovery call through the platform. Findr users only pay for accepted matches – in the region of £99 per match.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
A: The validation of our business idea. Based on feedback, there’s a significant need for what we’re offering. People see it as disruptive and transformative.
As word has gotten out about Findr, I’ve been overwhelmed by the rapid interest from potential investors, users and strategic partners. Some of the world’s largest and most reputable financial and technology companies have gotten in touch to express an interest in using the platform or investing, or to otherwise help us along our journey.
Q: What are your biggest threats?
A: There’s the constant threat of other people trying to copy what you do. However, we have robust protections in place for our IP.
Q: Do you see yourself as an underdog?
Quite the opposite! We see ourselves as addressing one of the pivotal reasons 90% of fintechs fail in their first year – the inability to create the commercial partnerships they need to thrive and survive.
Q: Where are you aiming to be business-wise in the next few years?
We plan to close our seed funding in July and are currently building out the technical platform with a focus on the matching algorithm. Over the summer, we’ll enlist our beta users to test UI, UX and other platform aspects. Then, we expect to launch in the UK in September.
We are starting with the UK fintech market – a sector I personally know very well – and will roll out to other global fintech markets thereafter. At the same time, we’ll evaluate and introduce Findr to other vertical sectors where it makes strategic sense around the world.
Our ultimate vision is to become the global partnership matching platform for all businesses regardless of size or vertical.
Learn more about how Findr is enabling businesses to tackle their cold prospecting challenges: www.findr.global