So hot is Fintech right now that it is possible to attend a conference every day of the week. Apparently some people do that - I come across my nomadic circle of friends in exotic locations (read - Orlando) throughout Spring and Fall, looking increasingly tarnished and feral as the conferences, breakfast buffets and airport layovers take their toll. For self preservation purposes, I have to some extent whittled down my must-see conferences to just a handful - a couple of very small ones, one very large one and Finovate which is, IMHO, a truly unique experience and essential to attend if you are truly to stay on top of your game in terms of what is happening at the intersection of banking, payments and technology.

What makes Finovate unique are a handful of factors...

  1. The No-Deck Rule. Presenters are not allowed to provide presentation slide decks, and instead have to explain their value proposition in person. Props are allowed, bad quality role playing almost required as presenters occasionally struggle to recreate their powerpoint presentations in acted out scenarios of customers visiting bank clerks or cashiers. I've yet to see interpretive dance or mime at Finovate, but I wait eagerly for the experience.
     
  2. The Seven Minute Rule. Unlike ALL other conferences where the 45 minute to an hour format for a session prevails, Finovate provides a radically truncated seven minute slot for presenters. Meaning - in each hour and a half, you will be exposed to ten pitches. Given the wide swath of financial services that Fintech covers, not all will be of relevance directly to your dayjob. However, there is so much cross pollenation of ideas and innovation right now, that it is likely that you will find areas of applicability in almost all presentations. Plus, there are always the presenters that didn't quite get the memo and either don't make it to providing any info of worth about their company, or manically aim to compress an hours worth of verbal content into the time slot. Symptoms may include...
     
  3. The Audience. The Finovate audience is what stand up comics would call a "tough crowd". It comprises of probably the sharpest, wittiest and most unapologetically snarky minds in the industry. This baptism by fire can clearly make or break a company and the entire process of pitching at Finovate can be compared to throwing your company into a rock tumbler - you'll find it abrasive and uncomfortable at the time, but ultimately you'll come out more polished. Potentially even a gem.

So, bags packed, I'm off to NYC shortly. Follow #Finovate on Twitter the next couple of days to witness the inquisition remotely.

I'll also be tweeting live from the event and blogging here when I return - @nickster2407 Release the Snark...