Zach Anderson Pettet, NBKC Bank’s resident fintech strategist, spends a lot of time thinking about the future of finance. He hopes to see his hometown of Kansas City play a major role in that future, as a hub for entrepreneurs and financial technology startups. A new accelerator from NBKC Bank and LaunchKC called Fountain City Fintech is a step toward making that happen.
Through the accelerator, five early-stage companies will be selected from a pool of applicants to receive investment of at least $50,000, in exchange for an equity stake of between 2 and 6 percent. Pettet will lead the program, which launches Oct. 1.
Pettet recently talked to Missouri Business Alert about the accelerator. An abbreviated version of that conversation was featured in an episode our entrepreneurship podcast, Speaking Startup. Audio of the full conversation is available through the player embedded above. Topics covered with Pettet included:
“It’s kind of a fun buzzword that gets thrown around a lot and it speaks directly to the technology side of financial services. I would describe it as financial services actually. As Marc Andreessen, and practically everyone else has said at this point, software is eating the world. That is 100 percent true. Fintech is really just financial services in the 21st century.”
The impetus for the accelerator
“We didn’t see any other community bank in the United States even doing this. That was part of it. No other community bank has stepped up and done this on their own. We see a gap there because of how fast we can move on these partnerships. That’s what actually gave us the idea. Then we started having conversations with LaunchKC and it became about establishing Kansas City as a fintech hub, as well as developing a public-private partnership between LaunchKC and NBKC.”
Pettet’s responsibilities as the program’s leader
“Everything from beginning to end. I’m kind of the glue of it, but I’m by no means the main one providing value. I’m in the process right now of actually building a team, we’re hiring a program manager and at least one intern, potentially two. And we’re bringing to bear a lot of resources from inside NBKC. So by no means is it just me. This is very much a team effort from inside NBKC.”
The ideal fit for Fountain City Fintech
“Financial technology, specifically. Even more specific than that, mostly business to consumer. And that’s still a pretty broad swath. A lot of these companies have great technology. They have great access in terms of their ability to acquire customers. But in a lot of cases their missing some of the banking product that can actually add real value to the customers’ lives, instead of just helping them understand their finances.”
“This is not something that we want to do once and say ‘Eh, we tried it.’ This is something we’ve committed to doing next year for sure. We’ll see where it goes after that. Startups are hard, and Fountain City Fintech is very much a startup. We don’t want to act like we’re overly confident, or we’re going to solve all the world’s problems. But we’ll do our damndest to make sure this thing exists for Kansas City in the long run. We’d love for this thing to have some staying power.”
A version of this interview aired during the June 23 episode of Missouri Business Alert’s Speaking Startup podcast. Find that episode wherever you get your podcasts, and get more Speaking Startup from the show page.