Five ways to build a strong fintech startup in a downturn

Chirag Shah, CEO of the London-based fintech Nucleus gives us his top five insights into what makes a successful startup in challenging times

Chirag Shah is the CEO of Nucleus - a financial services fintech startup based in London, that harnesses AI and ML to power its services. The fintech offers a one-of-a-kind CRM hub called myNucleus, which enables introducers to upload deals, track their progress, and provide their clients with a decision in just minutes. To date, Nucleus has received over 30,000 proposals and approved over £650mn via the myNucleus portal. We posed five questions to him, to find out his perspective on the current startup climate.

What makes a successful fintech start-up?

For those seeking to establish a fintech start-up, I would define the key ingredients for success as being first and foremost the drive and ability to challenge the status quo – if you’re not offering anything new or innovative, you risk being overshadowed by your competitors in what can feel like an already saturated market. 

All innovation needs to be supported by first identifying the customer’s pain points. Once you’ve got this insight, it’s about building an intuitive user journey and providing tangible, ongoing benefits to the customer. It’s critical all the moving parts of the business are optimised as much as possible to ensure you are providing a real solution that fully meets their personal needs.

Which fintech sectors are seeing the most movement in terms of start-ups, and why?

Currently, the most movement in terms of start-ups can be seen in the arenas of payments, open finance providers, and Web3 – this is because of a need for reliable infrastructure in place, particularly from a digital perspective, so that businesses can seamlessly facilitate growth. 

Given current economic volatility, anything relating to payments and cash flow is a priority for businesses – business owners need tech that makes their lives easier and gives them one less thing to worry about amid interest rate chaos and surging bills.

Investment is tough. How can fintechs attract investors in this difficult climate? 

Attracting investors in this difficult climate is tough, but not impossible. It all comes down to clarity - fintechs seeking investment need to outline clear unit economics and show a path to profitability that is actually logical and reliable. 

In the current climate, investors will be prioritising the most structurally sound investment and as a start-up owner, you need to impart a realistic vision for success. 

A key point is also that, given current restraints on expenditure, you need to demonstrate an ability to acquire users without providing monetary benefits to them to use the product – that is an element that will set you apart from others seeking investment.

What leadership traits are essential for building a scaling fintech?

As a leader building a scaling fintech, it is completely priceless to have a team that truly believes in the product and the business objectives. Flexibility is key – you need to make user feedback a priority over your own vision for the business and use that feedback as the driving force behind any instrumental changes. Beyond that, it really is a matter of dedication – dedication to achieving the best possible user journey, and dedication to constant improvement as there will always be ways you can generate value-added for the user.

What does the future of fintech look like to you?

Looking to the future of fintech, in the SME sector, I am confident that fintech products will continue to be at the forefront of transforming the SME ecosystem. 

I envisage fintech products becoming increasingly embedded in everything an SME does - whether that’s how payments are processed, understanding customer behaviour, reporting, and other administrative tasks, as well as how SMEs access funding.


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