Interview with Osman Sacarcelik, startup Grind Frankfurt
As a banking center, Frankfurt is a European heavyweight. As a result, it is obvious that the city also wants to play a leading role in the field of fintech – the currently celebrated potential bankruptcy killer. But Berlin and especially London are currently in the lead here. To change that, the Hessian state government called on different actors to submit ideas for their own center for fintech start-ups.
Of the 56 start-ups in the Main metropolis: What are the fintechs from Frankfurt who currently deserve the most attention for you?
Sacarcelik: That’s what I think: Clark, an insurance settlement, Traxpay, a provider of B2B payments, Vaamo, the money investment business, the trading app Swipestox and Bettervest, a crowdfunding platform for social and sustainable projects.
How important is Frankfurt as a location for the start-up scene, even ahead of Berlin’s competitive situation?
Sacarcelik:On the one hand the central geographical location in Germany, beyond that the city is an international hub, one has short ways and a large talent pool as well as a wide range of know-how by renowned universities and colleges – eg Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, TU Darmstadt, EBS Wiesbaden, University of Mainz. The high economic power and dynamism of the Rhine-Main region with numerous international financial institutions, DAX companies and renowned universities is another location advantage. This results in a variety of synergy opportunities, such as university research and funding programs, corporate start-ups or corporate venture capital.
How important is the fintech industry within the economy in Frankfurt or Hesse?
Sacarcelik:The number of fintechs in Frankfurt and Rhein-Main is rising steadily. The first companies have already relocated to Frankfurt. The special position of Frankfurt as an international financial center, stock exchange, ECB headquarters and BaFin contributes to the visibility of Fintechs. Especially in the B2B sector, fintechs in Frankfurt can find interesting cooperation partners. For example, you can also benefit from the infrastructure of the banks. Conversely, many banks today are looking for interesting start-up companies and innovative ideas in digital banking. The planned Fintech Center, which will soon be built in Frankfurt, is a beacon project. The city of Frankfurt and the state of Hesse actively support the project. BaFin is organizing a fintech conference shortly and has published useful information on regulatory issues for fintechs on its website. An in-house team at BaFin should coordinate the work within the supervision and foster dialog with fintechs. These are very positive signals and good framework conditions – especially in the Rhine-Main region.
Are these steps sufficient or what else is needed?
Sacarcelik:The developments mentioned above are positive steps and developments, but additional incentives for fintechs and other start-ups must be created here. These include, for example, affordable office and work spaces, more flexible leases for start-ups. The region also needs incubators and accelerators to help start-ups. The number of regional venture capital companies participating in innovative start-ups is still relatively manageable. There is still a lot of potential here. The corporates should also increase their efforts in the field of start-up and innovation promotion, for example through corporate start-ups, support programs or corporate venture capital. Fortunately, there are already numerous good event formats, which provide a good platform for dialogue and exchange within the start-up community. The “spirit of creation” can be promoted much more.