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Fintech Fast Pass: Your Champion for Growth

By Melissa Sassi posted Tue October 24, 2023 03:00 AM


A bit about me – Dr. Melissa Sassi – Founder of Fintech Fast Pass & Venture Partner at Machinelab Ventures (MLVP for short).

Over the last ten years, I have focused on building and scaling startup ventures in big tech – 225 over 75 countries with founders that raised more than $400M in investment capital. I’m an ex-IBMer who created IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator, an early-stage startup program focused on enabling datatechs to build, scale, and thrive. I spent five years at Microsoft where I was an impact investor focused on bridging the digital divide and bringing digital skills to the newly connected. 

I did a couple stints on Wall Street, at the largest asset manager in the world with $10T in assets under management, as well as Goldman Sachs. During the height of the financial crisis, I got my sea legs transitioning troubled mortgage provider, GMAC, into a bank holding company, which later became Ally Financial. 

I now run Machinelab Ventures with my fellow Venture Partner and an amazing group of leaders from across the globe. We serve as ecosystem connectors, market makers, and innovation scouts, focused on partner-driven growth for startups, scale-ups, and large enterprises. 

In partnership with the IBM Cloud for Financial Services team, our team brings Fintech Fast Pass to the financial services ecosystem. We scout the most innovative fintech solutions for revenue-driving collaboration that brings banks, fintechs, alliances, associations, councils, and other thought leaders together in the form of roundtables, summits, and other growth-oriented activities.

Why did I start with my background and not dive right into Fintech Fast Pass?

Building any program requires insight into the audience’s lived experience as a means of ensuring messaging is not everywhere and nowhere.

I’ve lived on the front lines of vendor management and fintech scouting across multiple financial services firms -banks and non-banks, global players and one-man shows. I’m a founder - an underrepresented one, in fact. I’ve been on the tech side across multiple clouds and technologies. I’ve also lived and breathed incubation, acceleration, venture building, and understand the key requirements VCs and others look for when allocating funding to startups. I’ve also worked in 61 countries and have experience with 150. I’ve seen innovation from small villages in Cape Verde, a small island state off the west coast of Africa close to Senegal to Wall Street.

It is with that lens that Fintech Fast Pass came to be.

How does Machinelab define growth?

While investment capital is important, my team focuses on helping fintechs to not dilute company ownership, while also growing revenue, customers, enterprise partners, co-marketing collaborations, talent, markets, and distribution channels.

What is Fintech Fast Pass and how does it enable fintechs to grow?

Fintech Fast Pass isn’t another accelerator and not another incubator. We’re also not a VC.

We’re recruiting 40 fintechs from across the globe to help unlock growth and cut out the friction of venture building.

It’s about elevating the brands of participating fintechs to help them reach potential customers like the banking executives in our network and that of IBM. We help them navigate the complexities of industry rules and regulations through our legal and compliance partners and network of advisers. IBM Cloud credits and access to one-on-one technical support help fintechs run on a platform trusted by leading financial services institutions. 

Imagine having a tech partner servicing 90% of the top 100 banks with a rich partner ecosystem of 200 leading banks. Hint – that’s IBM.

As a fintech founder, getting in front of bank decision makers or other important customers is often a daunting task, impeding growth. With 25,000 fintechs out there, budget holders are bound to miss some. Even the most seasoned and innovative thought leaders with their fingers on the pulse cannot possibly track 25,000 companies.

Our program includes a series of round tables connecting thought leaders, founders, technologists, and bank innovation executives together. We are the glue of the ecosystem. We help banks, tech companies, and others access innovative fintechs without the fuss of evaluating the entire ecosystem.

Where do fintech partners deliver value?

We bring partnerships to the fintech’s doorstep, ones that bring growth, as well as access to markets and segments. Partnerships also include marketing and PR collaborations. It’s not about a program that sits there waiting to be nurtured. It’s outward-facing and focused on championing the ecosystem publicly and boldly. Want to become a partner?  If you’re an ecosystem player looking to take part and join us, reach out. You can find me on LinkedIn, X, or here. We’re looking for new partnerships and want to hear from you. You can also schedule a meeting using Calendly.

What about privacy-by-design resources, a supportive network, and compliance advice?

Data protection, privacy, security, and compliance are central to a fintech’s success and traction. Operating within a highly regulated industry requires close attention to risk, as data breaches and regulatory challenges can force a fintech to shut its doors. With such a track record in financial services, IBM has developed a suite of products and services built upon bank-grade technology and operational rigor. What more? With sales cycles often lasting upward of eighteen months, knowing how to navigate the sector and talk a bank’s language helps decrease the burden on bank compliance.

Expect to meet regulatory counsel, compliance practitioners, and tech experts who understand the difference between technical assurance and operational assurance.

Quarterly roundtables will serve as the mechanism to access trusted advisors from relevant leaders who strategically and operationally understand the friction you face, questions you have, blockers getting in the way of success, and have spent their careers in the complexity of the financial services industry. 

What’s the Fintech Fast Pass Offer?

Participating fintechs receive IBM Cloud credits – up to $120,000 over a one-year period, which is coupled with one-on-one technical support. Run part or all your workloads on the IBM Cloud to unlock the potential.

Accelerate your tech and product roadmaps by tapping into the knowledge of cloud solution architects and design thinking experts who focus on driving toward user-centric solutions. Expertise awaits to demonstrate how IBM Cloud products and services advance your ability to incorporate game-changing AI solutions. Ethics in AI practitioners help you think through how to ensure trust, transparency as you further build and evolve your algorithms, all while minimizing bias. Meet Master Inventors and Distinguished Engineers, technical leaders at the top of their field who share leading-edge technology on the forefront of innovation.

Go to market with IBM via its co-sell motion to further solidify the partnership, thus opening new distribution strategies and revenue streams.

How many companies can join Fintech Fast Pass?

If you’re growth-oriented, looking for strategic partnerships, and love the idea of having an industry champion and trusted advisor, keep reading and get ready to submit your application.

We’re recruiting 40 fintechs from across the globe.

If you’re a fintech looking to elevate your brand through co-marketing, forge enterprise partnerships, reach new customers, co-sell to advance your revenue streams, navigate industry complexities, receive free IBM Cloud credits, and access one-on-one technical support, you are absolutely at the right place.

We don’t take equity, it’s free of charge, and there’s no complex schedule to follow where you become Zoomed out before the first day. Fintech Fast Pass is not an incubator or an accelerator. It’s practical and catered toward solving problems, creating solutions, and hitting goals.

Are you ready to get in front of bank partners, grow revenue, launch co-marketing campaigns, advance your thought leadership reach, establish a network of advisors and peers, and ensure your tech has what it takes to compliantly run within the banking sector? Apply now. I’m waiting!

Apply to Fintech Fast Pass Now 

Dr. Melissa Sassi

Founder, Fintech Fast Pass

Venture Partner, Machinelab Ventures