An accelerator with $1 million to invest in 10 financial tech start-ups has been launched in Sydney this week by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The AWI Ventures Accelerator Program is seeking 10 start-ups with teams of two or three in which to invest $100,000.
The first intake will be selected in April and begin a 12 month program which includes office space and expert mentoring.
AWI Limited chief executive Ben Heap told StartupSmart the financial services sector was ripe for disruption.
“Our very strong conviction is there is a whole array of interesting ideas that should get going, but struggle to. This problem is especially acute in the financial services as it’s a heavily regulated market with complex business structures coordinated by an oligarchy of big banks so it’s problematic for new guys.”
Heap says AWI Limited believes it is small enough to not be too constrained, but has sufficient size to gain access to expert and information networks start-ups need.
Start-ups can apply armed only with an idea, but must be able to demonstrate their capacity to deliver the first iteration of their product to test the market within four months.
“We’re up for seeing any kind of idea, but especially from people who are looking at the issues from a customer point of view, and can pitch a lay-down misere solution that customers will love,” Heap says.
The teams are expected to raise a second round of capital in the first six months. AWI intends to support them to their series A round.
“We have four of the ten largest banks in the world and an incredibly strong and globally powerful financial sector,” Heap says. “We’d like to think our initiative, together with what other people are doing, will provide a catalyst to allow a Silicon Valley-like hub to develop in this market,” Heap says.
AWI Ventures is a subsidiary of ASX-listed investment company Australasian Wealth Investments Limited.