As startups continue to disrupt industries like FinTech and healthtech, smart enterprises have embraced the collaborative nature that is key to startup success. In an effort to capture that startup spirit, enterprises are opening their own innovation centres, marking spaces in startup hubs, and partnering with strong startups.
In the vertical of FinTech, this collaborative environment is especially true. So it’s no surprise that Mastercard Canada — which processes 160 million transactions an hour — is supporting initiatives that will help it stay close to Canada’s tech talent. On Friday, Mastercard Canada hosted The Next 36 Mastercard Challenge for the second year in a row, inviting five companies from The Next 36 to receive mentorship and pitch in a room of Mastercard business leaders and executives.
“This kind of partnership is a natural fit for us. As a tech company, we want to see more innovation in Canada.”
“This kind of partnership is a natural fit for us. As a tech company, we want to see more innovation in Canada,” said Brian Lang, president of Mastercard Canada. “As a supporter of entrepreneurship and small business, partnering with organizations that are bringing more startups and small businesses to the country is a no-brainer. These are the companies that will create jobs of the future and will put Canada on the leading edge as a digitally connected country.”
The pitching startups included Tandem, a collaboration tool for software developers working remotely; Knote, which helps companies automate document processing, handling, and analysis using AI; Curexe, which provides international payment and currency exchange services more cheaply thank banks; Datachili, which uses machine learning to help users prepare big data before analysis; and Awake Labs, which is developing a wearable for people with autism.
Before the start of the event, the entrepreneurs had the chance to sit down with Mastercard executives working in market development, strategy, operations, and consulting, where they discussed the company’s business plan and presentation.
“I used to run a fairly entrepreneurial company and I can tell you that the one thing I miss about it is that we knew everything that was going on all the time, and you completely relied upon each other because it was so small. Any weak link, and you’re in trouble,” said Lang, who kicked off the event.
The winning startup — which will be announced in the coming weeks — will get a chance sit with Mastercard Canada’s President Brian Lang to discuss business ideas and get advice. Nonetheless, Peter Carrescia, managing director of The Next 36, said that the competition provides an opportunity to build networks with experienced mentors, which is what The Next 36 is known for.
“The Next 36 is incredibly fortunate to have Mastercard as a National Partner and to collaborate with them for a second year on the Mastercard Challenge,” said Carrescia. “The opportunity for Next 36 entrepreneurs and ventures to connect with Mastercard Mentors and their deep knowledge in both financial services and the industries they serve is invaluable. These interactions and relationships are the critical touch points that early-stage ventures and young entrepreneurs need to accelerate their success.”