FinTech #Furniture, #Fashion and #Food


I have visited quite a few  centres at , accelerators, labs and  startup offices: from the highest floors of mighty skyscrapers in Manhattan, to the folksiest office spaces in suburban warehouses. Everywhere I met enthusiasm, imagination, desire, hard work and openness to discuss global trends and detect:

  • what will stay about FinTech revolution, after initial bonanza;
  • which and business models will shape the world in 2020;
  • recognise what can work well in China, but would be disputed in the US.

There are two major yet antithetic drivers that turn new FinTech ventures into successful businesses (hopefully unicorns): PERSONALISATION and COMMODITISATION.

  • PERSONALISATION is the quintessential thing that Millennials buy and older clients want, and is the secret sauce to make digital experiences successful, sticky and relevant for customers.
  • COMMODITISATION is essential to build scalable and successful businesses, that can grow fast and exploit the power of digital economies to reach out to long tail consumers at lower than ever costs.

Yet, as I sat down today at my own kitchen table to write this post, I serendipitously spotted a share by Richard Joye which appeared on The Verge: How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world. Indeed I faltered and thought how true it is!

So do not expect many more insights about innovation, disruption and digital trends in the remaining of this article. We are going to talk a bit about casa, moda and buona tavola in the world of startups! Notwithstanding so much travel, speaking at more than 30 banking and FinTech conferences a year … and living in Germany … I remain Italian, born in Milan … and I have a weak for dolce vita stereotypes: design, fashion and food.

Here three summer recommendations to all my Fintech friends:

  1. Ideas do not come out of the fridge.
  2. Don’t make clothes, dress women.
  3. Don’t eat social media junk food.


I happened to visit innovation labs at established banking institutions, and walk through rigorously decorated corridors just to feel amazed like Alice in the wonderland by crossing the last door, and find myself in front of super designed kitchens, see people playing table tennis, hear the latest lyrics of Taylor Swift (I know, Millennials account for almost 70% of Spotify clients).

True say, Bill Gates made his first Microsoft steps in a garage, Zuckerberg and fellow roommates in their dormitory kitchen at Hayward University. I also do most of my work as author in unusual places, like airplanes, my kitchen, the corner table of the Turkish bar which recently opened at the end of the street where I live. However, watch out! The FinTech world can be self-referential in many regards, and you risk to get trapped into a mechanism of emulation instead of autonomous innovation.

Here is the first recommendation: while it is convenient to work in the kitchen, ideas don’t come out of the IKEA fridge. So be DIFFERENT as much as possible. I don’t mean different from banks (that already comes by working in the kitchen …), I mean different from mainstream FinTech and its social media loudspeakers.



I find it fascinating to speak at FinTech conferences. The parterre is usually made of 80% FinTech entrepreneurs (wearing some sort of shabby cloths) and 20% bankers (in suits but without ties). While FinTech guys tell their audiences “HEY, I AM THE NEW MILLENNIALS-MINDED BANK“, bankers try to scream loud “HEY, I AM A TECHNOLOGY COMPANY NOW“.

Truth might lay in the middle, but one thing is certain: banks are still troubled banks, and FinTech companies are still fabulous software firms trying to use new technologies to service innovative business models. Since B2C businesses and revolutions are easier dreamt than won, most FinTechs’ future might feature their institutionalisation, as banks’ partners or service providers.

Here is the second recommendation: while it is cool to wear sneakers, a good woman’s wardrobe always features a Chanel. Fashion designer Valentino famously said “I don’t make clothes, I dress women”. So do the same: do not just build a Fintech, conceive a business which comes with genuine products, good pipelines, sound business plans and key partnerships.

If cloths don’t make the Monk, 

FinTech attire doesn’t make the Unicorn!



The digital economy makes it truly possible to scale new businesses faster than ever across international borders, however “one man’s meat is another man’s poison“. I am fascinated during my travels and business conversations to learn what can work globally, and what instead makes sense only locally.

Here my third recommendation: copy and paste Silicon valley might not be a good innovation strategy that works everywhere. Luckily enough, you can eat a decent pizza almost everywhere. However, although Starbucks is a fabulous brand, it might work in the US but has not yet successfully landed in Italy. US might be an easier B2C market for -Advisors than continental Europe, because regulation, banking infrastructure and investors behaviour are not equal across the pond.

Copy and past Silicon Valley might not always
be a good innovation strategy


Elevator’s pitch to executive search companies: should you ask what is the role of a global FinTech though leader, here is what I do …

I sell the finest FinTech Furniture, FinTech Fashion and FinTech Food!

Read more about the topic? Check on Amazon my new book “FinTech Innovation: from Robo-Advisors to Goal Based Investing and Gamification“.

[linkedinbadge URL=”” connections=”off” mode=”icon” liname=”Paolo Sironi”] is IBM Thought Leader – Wealth Management FinTech Analytics