Fire-wielding drummers, powerful founder stories, pitching tips, and fintech coffee wars: Day one of NFW had it all.
Day One of Nordic Fintech Week 2023 was on fire—literally. Drummers with flaming drumsticks tapped out a beat on stage to welcome 2,000 delegates from over 100 nations, representing over 200 fintechs and over 50 banks.
Nordic Fintech Magazine co-founder Chris Crespo’s enthusiasm was merited as he took the stage to welcome the audience to the greatest fintech event in the Nordics, informing them that the program would include over 4,400 minutes of content.
Copenhagen Fintech Lab CEO Thomas Krogh Jensen came up next and shared with participants that NFW is all about gaining insight, having a good time, making connections, and securing partnerships.
NFW – More Than Just the Nordics
What once began as an event focused solely on the Nordics has now expanded to a global stage. “I truly believe that the Nordics have the ingredients for the secret sauce, but it’s also missing a few,” Jensen said. “That’s why getting an outside perspective is so important.”
Placing an exclamation point on that fact, Jensen welcomed onto the stage Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, a key player in one of the most sophisticated fintech countries in the world. “What you’ve achieved in Singapore is second to none,” said Jensen.
From there, the Main Stage audience was treated to insight scoops from speakers representing some of the most influential finance organisations in the Nordics and the world—Mastercard, Saxo Bank, Nordea, Citi Group, and many others.
The Main Stage also hosted this year’s Nordic Fintech Awards ceremony.
The illustrious panel of judges selected the following winners:
- New entry category: Comparables.io
- Growth category: Two
- Impact category: Jamii.one
- Web3 category: Lendwill
- Global game changer category: Reality+
Further reflecting the event’s growing global relevance, the final award is now called the Global Game Changer instead of Nordic Game Changer.
Startup Stage: Pitches, and Storytelling Tips to Help Secure Funding
Outside the Main Stage, more than a dozen companies pitched potential investors at the Startup Stage.
The final presentation by master storyteller Steve Morris of Amplify attracted a standing-room-only crowd as he drove home the most important aspects of telling a good story, a crucial skill for any founder seeking funding.
Two core insights he provided were:
- “You’re not the hero of your story. Your customer is the hero.”
- “If you’re pitching something very technical, pitch it as if you’re pitching my grandmother.”
Morris then offered complimentary coaching sessions after the presentation for any founders who wanted to improve their pitches.
Moving Stories at the Founders Peak
Christian Frahm, a fintech founder with a $120-million exit under his belt, presented the first-ever Founders Peak talk in the Nordics. He shared an emotional story about how his successful company went bankrupt 72 hours after Switzerland scrapped its currency peg from the Euro.
“It was a Black Swan event,” he said. “Nobody could have predicted it.” Frahm said he called his wife to tell her what happened, expecting her to be disappointed in him. Instead, she showed her support, told him she loved him, and that his children loved him.
Within 18 months, Frahm built the company back up again, eventually selling it to Playtech, achieving the largest exit in this zone for that year.
“That experience taught me that people love you for who you are and what you give, not what you build,” he said, urging founders to always follow their hearts during their tough entrepreneurial journey.
Denise Johansson, Co-CEO of Enfuce, then lit up the stage with her story of how you must always move forward and never doubt yourself. “For me, success is waking up every day to a meaningful life,” she said.
In total, a dozen founders provided insight into hard-earned lessons at the first-ever Founders Peak on Nordic soil.
Nordic Studio Panels
At the Nordic Studio Panels stage, early-stage investors provided insight into what fintech founders must pay attention to when approaching VCs and angels.
Akash Bajwa of Earlybird Venture Capital explained the reasoning behind the phrase so many founders have been hearing recently: All revenue isn’t equal.
“Investors want to see predictable, robust revenue streams,” he said, explaining that companies with subscription models will likely fare better than those deriving their revenue primarily from new customer acquisitions.
Nordic Studio Panel audiences also heard talks on digital identity, ESG, and why fintechs should use their positions to do good in the world.
Not Only Fintech—a Portable Sauna, Art on a Screen, The Great Coffee Competition, Cocktails, and a Barbecue
As for Thomas Krogh Jensen’s comment that Nordic Fintech Week was about having a good time, Day One definitely delivered.
It began with the best coffee you could get in Copenhagen today: Fintech giants Finaro and FIS interlocked in head-to-head combat, positioning their three-wheel “tuk-tuks” at either side of the event space, with expert baristas serving coffee to queues that never seemed to get shorter. Unfortunately, no clear winner emerged, and FIS and Finaro will fight courageously for the Coffee Champion title again tomorrow.
Finland-based Enfuce brought along its portable sauna. Although we thought the unseasonably warm weather was why the sauna stayed off, we discovered that its primary purpose is to provide people with a quiet space to think in the middle of the bustle. It also represents Enfuce’s podcast aptly titled In the Hot Seat.
Tryg provided hundreds of heart-shaped stress balls for anyone to take.
Tesla brought a fleet of Model S and Model 3s for attendants to test drive.
And DVK the artist displayed his exceptional hand-crafted work on high-tech screens designed to present art as if it were on canvas.
Finally, guests got to relax over drinks during Lucinity’s cool cocktail lounge event, and then re-energize with a delicious barbecue hosted by Mastercard.