MasterCard announced today (June 21) the kickoff of the 2016 summer session of its Start Path Global program — a class offering support to the next generation of commerce and FinTech startups from around the world.
The effort provides innovative early-stage startups with access to an immersive six-month program where they receive guidance and support from MasterCard on scaling their operations and entering new markets and industries. This new class of companies, selected from 500 applications across 60 countries, represents a diverse group in terms of team size, level of funding, revenue and sales pipeline.
The startups chosen for MasterCard’s Start Path Global summer 2016 class are Cyberfend (security solution provider), Everledger (fraud prevention company), Itembase (eCommerce data aggregator), Mozio (airport transfer search and booking engine), PayKey (conversational commerce solution provider), RecargaPay (mobile payments platform) and Revolut (P2P payments app).
Though all of the startups touch the commerce space in some way, Stephane Wyper, Global Lead for MasterCard Start Path, told Karen Webster, they represent a wide range of focuses in their efforts to disrupt and innovate traditional financial services and commerce.
From startups in blockchain to conversational commerce, smart transportation and even cybersecurity and personal money management, the group all can find common ground in their desire to solve for the commerce experience.
"It's not a random set of companies. There is a linkage back to that overall vision for us, which is things that can potentially help change the consumer or business experience, of which payments can be one part of," Wyper explained.
Narrowing down from 500 to the seven startups selected for the summer 2016 class was no easy feat for MasterCard.
Wyper said it involved evaluating several key criteria, including the solution itself, the market opportunity available, that the solution is in beta testing or ideally commercially live, that the startup has funding behind them and a path to growth and scale and that any pain points can be identified and examined further.
He also added how important it is for the startups to have a clear idea of what they are looking for when it comes to engaging and working with MasterCard, essentially what they really need help with.
Though the experience begins with a six-month program that includes both virtual and on-site engagement activities and support initiatives, Wyper made it clear that the goal is to build lasting relationships with all the startups involved.
Since the virtual program launched in 2014, MasterCard has worked with more than 60 startups, helping to introduce them to new business opportunities, while also tackling business problems and challenges.
The first on-site event for this class will be an immersion week in London, bringing the companies together to take a deeper look at their individual operational needs and increase their exposure to MasterCard product areas and customers.
The startups will also have regular check-in meetings with a strategic mentor/advisor, aimed at ensuring they are connected to the appropriate parts of MasterCard and its offerings.
Even after the class itself has ended, Wyper said MasterCard continues to foster a lasting relationship with each and every startup that comes through the program by continuing to provide introductions when needed, access to MasterCard product areas and capabilities and an investment model that presents the opportunity for MasterCard to invest in a subsequent round of funding if it's interested.
ClubApp, an Ireland-based startup that supports a platform for sports clubs to share live updates and generate statistics, recently integrated Qkr! with MasterPass technology to enable its members to pay club fees and buy club merchandise via the app.
"The most important measure for success is the startups themselves and if we've really been able to deliver value to them,” Wyper added.
“It’s great validation to see the startups using our assets to supplement and enhance their solutions.”