ABN AMRO has been organising Start-Up Fridays on the last Friday of the month since November 2013. These special events address innovations that are relevant to the financial industry, and elsewhere. The sessions promise to get you inspired for the weekend, but more often than not, they do much more than that.
Menno van Leeuwen, Ideation team leader at ABN AMRO's Innovation Centre explains: "The Start-Up Fridays bring together customers and associates of ABN AMRO, as well as bankers and anyone else interested in listening to innovation pitches by start-ups. The main idea of these sessions is to inspire each other and to forge new contacts. And whereas we may end up extending credit, this aspect is of secondary importance. It’s a win-win situation for us and for the start-up companies as they may succeed in securing funding from people in the audience."
Each time, ABN AMRO explores a new technological development in innovative banking such as contactless payment, virtual currencies, crowdfunding, the sharing economy and smart energy. "We really appreciate the innovative mentality displayed by start-ups," Van Leeuwen goes on to say, "as they truly provide new insights. Next month, for example, the pitch will be given by a start-up company that’s experimenting with payments using Google Glass. Nod twice, and you’ve paid! And during the session after that we will be delving into the world of online privacy. This is a highly relevant issue given the ever growing technological advances."
Focus on partnership
By organising events of this kind, ABN AMRO is looking to extend its role as a lender. Van Leeuwen points out that the credit business is not just a matter of saying Yes or No: "Start-Up Friday focuses on partnership rather than on the financial products we have to offer. We make our network available to entrepreneurs, we match them with our business associates and in some cases we act as ‘pilot customers’. In this way we can truly add value. Financing is not a goal in itself – it comes into play only when appropriate."