Originally published in PYMNTS
Class is in session! For the summer. Today, (June 26), Mastercard announced news that it admitted six new startups into the Start Path program’s class of 2017. So far, Mastercard says that Start Path has helped 150 later-stage tech and FinTech startups grow from “good to great to global.”
“We tailor a specific program to each of the companies as they go through the six months,” Amy Neale, vice president of Mastercard Start Path told PYMNTS. “Because we work with later-stage startups, we’ve found that the best approach to take is to understand the challenges they’re facing in the next chapter of their business, and then we work with them to solve those challenges.”
The six newcomers hail from six different countries and offer solutions to six widely varying problems in today’s payments and eCommerce world. But they all have a few things in common, according to Neale.
First, they’re solving problems in FinTech and commerce, not just the payments world.
Second, selections typically focus on later-stage FinTech startups that have already taken on investments and gotten their first product to market. Neale noted that there’s actually a lot of support to be had for brand-new startups, but startups going through “adolescence” may find themselves unable to reach the next growth foothold without a boost from a mentor.
Next, Mastercard is less interested in getting brand new startups off the ground than it is in working with companies whose founders have spent some time in the industry, have put a lot of their own skin in the game to get the company on its feet and have a great appreciation for the challenges that lie ahead.
Finally, said Neale, the program combs through proposals, referrals and startups it finds through its scouting efforts. Then it listens to pitches from each one in order to further narrow the candidate pool. The end result is that Start Path partners only with the “best and brightest.”
New admissions include:
CardUp, a Singapore-based company whose platform enables users to pay for big-ticket items, such as rent and insurance, sans friction by using a credit card.
Ftcash, an Indian company that enables micro-merchants and entrepreneurs to accept digital payments and payments via mobile app, plus giving access to credit.
ModoPayments, a technology company whose platform can convert any type of payment input into any type of output, powering new ways for consumers to pay. Modo’s CEO, Bruce Parker, was interviewed just last week by PYMNTS’ CEO Karen Webster — catch that interview here.
Movvo, a Portugal- and U.K.-based company whose technology and data platform generates traffic insights in retail and real estate environments.
ToneTag, an Indian company using sound waves to accept contactless payments at tolls and other settings.
RecommenderX, an Irish company comprised of AI experts and PhDs who are using data to tell businesses what products might interest consumers, and to tell consumers what products they might like to try.
During the program, startups work with a mentor to determine and carry out three to four projects over the course of six months. Mastercard provides operational support through its global team of subject matter experts, as well as commercial access to its corporate customers, giving startups a chance to hone their business development and think about channels and expansion.
After the program, it’s almost always possible for companies to find a good home through Mastercard’s massive global network. Start Path “grads” often get plugged into Mastercard’s business units around the world.
For instance, Mastercard co-developed a product with a company from Start Path’s last class. NetPlus tackles the challenge of cash on delivery for eCommerce in Nigeria, where many shoppers prefer not to pay digitally. This insistence on paying cash can create problems at the point of delivery — NetPlus enables shoppers to pay digitally once they have received the product. To get the inside scoop on NetPlus, listen to the CEO tell his story as part of PYMNTS In Their Own Words Podcast series.
Kasisto was another graduate of the program. This AI-focused company just rolled out a banking virtual assistant called KAI, which lets users conduct virtually all of their banking business via voice command. Kasisto’s CEO shared his vision for bots and banking with PYMNTS’ CEO Karen Webster here.
Amy Neale said that Mastercard is always looking for promising new candidates for the program. The deadline to apply for the next round is Aug. 1, 2017.