I spent a weekend Friday-Sunday with VISA at LAB house in Holborn to solve the complex issues SME’s are facing with their finances. We had to come up with an idea to solve these issues with a simple solution.
At the start of the afternoon on Friday we had to sign in and choose a sticker based on your occupation/skill set, Business, Designer and Developer. After, we were introduced to the team at VISA, AKQA and Founders of the Future who were organising the event. We also had a talk with one of the main developers for Xero the accountancy software company explaining what they’re doing for SME’s.
After some networking and some food and a drink or two. People who had a business idea had to pitch to everyone for 60 seconds a business idea around solving the complex financial issues for SME’s with API in mind. Although I didn’t have a solid business plan I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and do a 60-second pitch based on a persona in the brief (please see below to download the VISA brief).
The persona called Jo mentioned that trying to book a bank appointment is like trying to book a doctors appointment when you urgently need it. I had a little light bulb moment. Doctors now have an app where you can facetime a doctor saving you time and the time on the NHS. I thought why not bring this model into the banking industry and using VISA’s API like the biometrics and scanning of your ID to then identify yourself. After the pitch, you had to drum up support and get people to use the 3 stickers given to you at the start of the event to then vote for your idea. Unfortunately, my idea didn’t have enough support.
12 ideas out of the 60-second pitches get chosen. Then the chosen 12 choose 5 people they need to form a team. You then have to sell your skills and convince them that you are the best person for the job.
The team I went with needed a designer and I decided to go with the team with the original idea of using home assets to get a quick loan with low APR.
I found this process to be very tough and challenging as the talent in the room was amazing. You really did have to sell yourself.
My team consisted of 2 designers who work in UX/UI for Net-A-Porter, Lena and Sol, Tiwa whos studying business and 1 brilliant business mind called Asha who works in the investment banking sector.
Saturday: We started early Saturday morning by doing some solid research. We had mentors who worked for VISA to come round to give us advise on our ideas. After we had some businesses come in to share their own personal experiences with the financial issues they face as an SME. We found what they were saying very useful. We changed our idea from the home loans based on the fact that SME’s would not be willing to lay down that risk of losing their home.
After some intense research, we came up with the name Versifi with the slogan – Very Simple Finance. Our mission statement was the following: Simplifying the complex verification process to gain you access to a cash injection you need for your business.
We had mentors come round and give us advice on our idea and make sure we are heading in the right direction. We also had businesses come in and explain to us about the issues they face with finances and the services that are out there.
We decided to change the idea of the home equity loans because from the feedback from the business owners not many of them would put their house on as an asset in the risk of giving up the home.
Please see below our presentation and our slides.
Overall the weekend was an amazing experience. Although we didn’t win we can hold our heads up high because we did an amazing job in such a short amount of time. I have learned a lot over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.