Ladies and gentlemen, the finish line is in sight.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared details about ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator finalists and their innovative approaches to address community bank-focused needs. We’ve also shared tidbits from ICBA and The Venture Center's network of mentors who have generously devoted their time and expertise to help guide the finalists as they fine-tune their offerings.
And while there are a few more fintech profiles to come, with the bootcamp experience coming to a close, it seemed fitting to take a minute and offer a sneak peek into what community bankers can expect during the ThinkTECH Showcase at ICBA LIVE® next week.
The two-hour showcase on March 18 will spotlight the eight fintech companies that have graduated from the Little Rock-based ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator. Lee Wetherington, director of strategic insight at Jack Henry & Associates and one of the country’s foremost thought leaders on banking innovation, will kick off the event and lay a foundation for the role of innovation in community banking.
Following Lee, I’m also planning to say a few words since I’ve been working on this program every step of the way. I’ll be sharing more specifics around how Accelerator companies are challenging conventional banking boundaries and equipping community banks to lead with a technology-first edge.
But we want the showcase to be an interactive session that invites community bank input. That’s why convention attendees will be able to share their feedback via the Community Bankers’ Choice Award. Each innovator will have seven minutes to demo their high-tech, high-touch solutions, and following these presentations, community bankers will be able to vote for the solution most relevant to their institutions. The results of this vote will be featured at the reception immediately following the showcase and in follow-up activities at the Venture Center.
Along with the announcement of the Bankers’ Choice Award, the ThinkTECH Mixer from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. will allow community bankers to network with Accelerator finalists, learn more about their offerings, and identify opportunities to incorporate their solutions. It’s going to be a fantastic event—one that will also get us ready for the Demo Day down at The Venture Center.
Just one week later, on March 27, the Venture Center Demo Day will feature a deeper dive into our finalists and their offerings. As you can imagine, this Little Rock event will emphasize the role community banks serve in their local economies. We’ve had great support for this initiative from the beginning, including Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), who was on hand for the program’s kickoff launch last fall. And now cohort participants will have an opportunity to showcase their products to local dignitaries, including Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (invited) and Little Rock Mayor Frank D. Scott Jr., who incidentally, is a former banker. Similar to the ThinkTECH Showcase, each Accelerator participant will pitch its product and share how it supports community banks. In addition, the session will reiterate the results of the vote on ICBA Convention attendees’ top solution.
Demo Day is the culmination of 12 weeks of intense work and is the perfect time to celebrate innovation and continue fueling the fintech revolution, courtesy of this cohort. But Demo Day does not mark the conclusion of the Accelerator experience. While the bootcamp is ending, its impact lives on. The immersive nature of The Venture Center program leads to new relationships, and ultimately, future collaborations. The connections participants make—with one another, community bank leaders, core providers, regulators, and beyond—engender meaningful feedback that translates to opportunities.
As we look back over the past three months, there’s a lot to take in. It’s been a fast-paced journey, but one that undoubtedly fulfills ICBA’s mission to create and promote an environment where community banks flourish.
Kevin Tweddle is chief operating officer for the ICBA Services Network.