Collaborative Innovation: CashWise's StartupIN Program Residency Experience

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At Ingenico, we're committed to fostering innovation and staying connected to the startup community. Our StartupIN program helps new ventures succeed by providing them with resources, expertise, and mentorship to help them thrive in the competitive fintech space. One of the startups we engaged through the program is CashWise, a business treasury management platform. 

The CashWise team recently completed their residency at the Ingenico office, benefiting from our StartupIN program's offerings.

cashwise and ingenico startupin program apac
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Spotlight on CashWise

CashWise is a venture-funded startup headquartered in Singapore. With pre-seed funding from Antler VC, the company is building automation solutions for Treasury Management. The team comprises three founding members, all of whom met during the Antler SG13 cohort:

Adrian Ma, the CEO, has roots in Hong Kong and Canada and over 25 years of experience in building products and companies across various sectors, including telecom, cloud computing, blockchain, and services.

Vidushan Premathiratne is the CIO from Sri Lanka, and brings 14 years of experience in Investment Banking, investment advisory, and CFO roles.

Masahiro Morita is the CTO, hails from Japan, and recently exited his B2B SaaS company after a decade-long tenure as CEO & CTO.

The team created CashWise to address the issue of companies having large amounts of unused cash in their bank accounts. In Singapore alone, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) hold approximately $500 billion in various bank accounts, expanding to a staggering $1.7 trillion across Southeast Asia. With rising inflation rates, this idle cash leads to a significant erosion of buying power for businesses. 

CashWise helps companies manage their cash better by identifying available funds, mobilizing them for investments, and ensuring returns before any expenditure. With CashWise, companies can invest directly in T-Bills, government bonds, and corporate bonds, bypassing the middleman and maximizing their returns.

Currently, CashWise is in its pre-seed stage, with funding from Antler. They plan to launch their minimal viable product (MVP) and initiate a seed round raise by the end of the year.

The CashWise Journey with the StartupIN Program

Adrian first discovered Ingenico at the Singapore Fintech Festival in November 2022. At that time, he was developing a retail product and was intrigued by Ingenico's involvement in the in-store commerce sector. 

During the festival, Adrian had the opportunity to meet Sébastien Lefranc, who heads the Ingenico StartupIN program. Over the course of three months, Adrian and his team engaged with the StartupIN team at startup events and various interactions, which helped strengthen the relationship between the two groups.

Sometime in the first half of the year, Adrian's team shifted their business strategy to CashWise. However, they still see great potential in collaborating with Ingenico. The team is investigating building cashflow analysis or modeling from Point-of-Sale and accounting systems data to optimize unused funds.

In June 2023, the CashWise team signed up for the residency initiative by the StartupIN program. Their interest in the program grew for various reasons, such as partnering with a global corporation like Ingenico, access to its extensive ecosystem, and connecting with other startups. The team is exploring potential use cases to allow them to join the StartupIN program and be part of the community.

Collaborative Innovation

The StartupIN program is focused on nurturing early-stage startups, specifically those in the FinTech, TechFin, and commerce solutions sectors operating as SaaS vendors. It is a gateway for startups to tap into Ingenico's extensive technology stack, leverage payment expertise, and integrate into the in-store commerce ecosystem.

The StartupIN program aims to scout for promising startups that align with Ingenico's vision and capabilities. Once identified, the team will delve into potential use cases that could seamlessly fit into the Ingenico ecosystem. Startups that meet the criteria are then onboarded into the program, gaining invaluable access to a network of experts and a wealth of resources.

The ultimate goal is collaborative innovation. The program targets the creation of a jointly built Proof of Concept (POC) that bridges the physical in-store world with the digital landscape. Upon successful validation of the POC, the startup's solution has the potential to be industrialized and formally incorporated into Ingenico's broader payment and commerce ecosystem.

The StartupIN Program Residency Initiative

To ensure a startup's success and growth, finding the right setting is essential. Nowadays, residencies have become a popular choice for startups due to their ability to provide a workspace, access to resources, and opportunities for collaboration. We recently chatted with the CashWise team, who had gone through the StartupIN residency, and they shared their journey with us.

The Need for Office Space

Finding reasonably priced office space can be daunting for startups, particularly in urban areas like Singapore. Adrian stressed the significance of visibility for startups and how expensive office spaces can impede this. "Startups struggle with office space due to the high costs of renting commercial properties in prime locations," he said.

Before StartupIN residency, the CashWise team worked from different places, sometimes using Antler's offices or shared spaces in their homes. The team's nomadic working style came with challenges like limited privacy and space.

Benefits of the StartupIN Residency

When asked if he would recommend the startup residency program to other startups, the CashWise team responded with a resounding "Yes."

According to Adrian, the residency offers more than just a physical space. It gives a conducive environment for brainstorming, collaboration, and growth, which is hard to do with remote working. Productivity improved when the team sat down with more space and proper facilities.

Masahiro echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that a collaborative environment enabled them to work better and efficiently as a team.

Vidushan added that the environment provides a form of motivation for ideation to happen. And being a part of a space where other people are working also boosts the team to work harder. 

The structured yet flexible setting of the residency has been a game-changer for many startups. It allows them to focus on their work without the distractions and limitations of working from home or shared public spaces. With access to in-house experts and knowledge, particularly in in-store payments, startups can bounce off ideas and gain experience that could improve their products.

Looking Ahead

The StartupIN residency program is still in its early stages but shows great potential in helping startups grow and form partnerships. While the team had much praise for their experience, they also offered suggestions for improvement. Recommendations include:

  • Access to event spaces for product demos or training sessions.
  • A mix of startups and scaleups in the community.
  • Easy access for guest visits.

But the overall sentiment was clear: The StartupIN residency offers invaluable support to budding businesses, providing them with the tools, environment, and community they need to thrive. Based on input from program participants such as CashWise, the StartupIN residency is on track to grow and become an essential pillar of Ingenico's ecosystem.

StartupIN Program: An Open Innovation Platform

Ingenico's partnership with startups like CashWise marked our presence as an open innovation player. With the StartupIN program, Ingenico offers necessary resources to startups while gaining a better understanding of the current fintech trends and solutions. 

Whether a startup is an in-store native or planning to enter the space, if it needs to embed payment and commerce capabilities into products or services and tap into go-to-market routes for in-store commerce, StartupIN provides the tools and resources to support its journey. 

Collaborative activities and partnerships with program alums and Ingenico create a win-win-win scenario, fostering innovation and seamless in-store commerce experiences. 

Ingenico invites more startups to join the StartupIN program and be part of this exciting journey.

Author
Ankit Maheshwari APAC Head of StartupIN Program

Ankit Maheshwari

APAC Startup Engagement Lead, StartupIN Program, Ingenico

Ankit Maheshwari is responsible for the commercial engagement of startups and ecosystem partners in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Australia to identify and onboard startups to the StartupIN program and lead the go-to-market activities across these geographies.

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