Solution provider World Wide Technology is partnering with a venture fund company to invest in early stage financial technology developers with an eye on gaining early access to new technology that might be of interest to customers.
WWT's partnership with SixThirty also provides those startups with access to WWT's extensive Advanced Technology Centers, which are designed to run hundreds of demonstrations of new technologies from multiple vendors simultaneously, said Philip Farah, digital transformation lead for global financial services institutions at the St. Louis-based solution provider.
St. Louis-based SixThirty provides seed funding to between eight and 14 late-stage financial technology startups each year, providing training, mentoring and networking opportunities, Farah told CRN.
The company also has a fund that invests in cybersecurity startups.
WWT did not disclose the value of its investment partnership with SixThirty.
Farah said the partnership will help WWT find new ways to better work with customers on their digital transformation projects.
"Digital transformation is a major driver of customer transformation and competitiveness," he said. "It's not the exclusive domain of large enterprises. We're seeing smaller companies adopt such transformative technologies as blockchain, AI, alternative lending and mobility."
If a solution provider focuses only on larger, established providers of technologies to help in customers' digital transformation efforts, they will miss a lot of opportunities that might spring from smaller companies or startups, Farah said. "So we want a model that better engages with those companies."
SixThirty is a leader in identifying and fostering startups, which makes it a great partner for finding new technologies to bring customers, Farah said.
"SixThirty is a business accelerator," he said. "Think of it as a scout for new technology startups and identifying the ones more promising for its partners like WWT, insurance companies and wealth management companies. Once it identifies a promising company, SixThirty invests in the company and provides coaching and support to help them grow and get a footprint in the market."
The partnership with SixThirty has two purposes for WWT, Farah said.
"We're investing money," he said. "But we are also identifying companies of interest to our clients and giving them access to our Advanced Technology Centers. This gives customers a chance to test the technology in our environment before they consider a purchase."
Farah cited as an example CogniCor Technologies, a Barcelona, Spain-based company with U.S. offices in St. Louis and San Francisco that develops chatbot technology for markets like insurance.
"Whether it's for support or other services, CogniCore supports customers with credit card transactions, filling out forms, and so on," he said. "It does so based on thousands of interactions, and can hand off to a human if there's a problem. The technology also learns from the answer so that it doesn't need to go to humans in the future."
Prior to its investment with SixThirty, WWT's investment activities were done on a company-to-company basis, Farah said. "Now we're investing in a portfolio that will change every year," he said. "So this is a very dynamic investment."