Fintech Happy Hour

Published on May 9, 20236 min read105 views

This post covers details on how Fintech Happy Hour offline mixers got started, why I do it, the kind of audience and sponsors I optimise for and a full list of all mixers I've hosted so far.

The Numbers

8 Happy Hours hosted (Jan 2022 till Jun, 2023) 5 cities 4,000+ registrations 2,000+ attendees (pre-approved) 17+ sponsors

What is Fintech Happy Hour

Fintech Happy Hour is a series of offline mixers for fintech founders, builders, investors and others. The mixers are organised in major cities across India and Southeast Asia. The first happy hour was organised in 2022 and till date, has been attended by a couple thousand people.

How the Fintech Happy Hour came to be:

In 2020, I decided to start publishing a newsletter - Fintech Inside. It's been 3 years now, and that newsletter is being widely read by decision makers, leaders, executive teams, founders, builders, investors, regulators and general interested folks. The most exciting part is that the readership inadvertently evolved into an organic community.

In 2021, Nik and I decided to collaborate on the newsletter front. Nik was also doing a bunch of offline mixers in the US as his newsletter grew as well. It was kinda easy and Nik is really great to partner with, so we decided to collaborate on organising Fintech Happy Hour in India and Southeast Asia too.

I guess it was partly a timing thing as well. 2020 and 2021 the world suffered from lockdowns and we all were locked up in our rooms. People craved in-person meetings. Several people, individually would tell me that I should organise meetups and they'd like to meet other like-minded folks to learn from.

And so, via a series of isolated events, Fintech Happy Hour India and SEA happened. Serendipity, as they call it!

Why I organise Fintech Happy Hour?

I found it very odd at the time, but a quite a few people, mostly senior executives, asked me this question. What's in it for me? Why do I organise these mixers?

What's in it for me? a few things:

  • brand building for myself and the firm I'm with. Some of us need to work harder when you don't have a three-letter brand on your CV.
  • Connecting with my readership. There's no replacement for in-person connections. Huge help to expand my network.
  • Meeting great people that could go on to build new things. First to a new investment opportunity.
  • Connecting great people with other great people. Adding value to my network.
  • This is my way of giving back to the ecosystem that has given me so much over the past decade.

Why do I host these events? Straight talk: I genuinely believe that better solutions come when like-minded people meet. Collaboration, not competition, is more important in fintech than in any other sector. My honest main objective is to get people to meet other "enthusiasts" and talk about improving product, learning how someone else solved a problem, hire exceptional talent, meet their cofounder and so on. A lot of that has actually happened, thanks to the Fintech Happy Hour and that's the most gratifying aspect for me.

In 2022, thanks to the funding slowdown, from my vantage point, founders were getting negative - bitching about other founders, talking ill about other products, pulling their hair while dealing with regulators. It was a rabit hole of doom for most. The negativity was becoming the bigger pandemic. I wanted to change that.

If I was doing an offline meetup, it had to be the best goddam meetup for the fintech ecosystem. It should be second to none. That's why there was a bit of a delay in getting things off the ground. When I was comfortable with what I wanted from a mixer, I hosted the first mixer in Bangalore - and boy! was that exhilarating!

For that very reason, I wanted to optimise for certain types of attendees and sponsors.

Audience and Sponsors I optimise for

I was very specific that I wanted the Fintech Happy Hour's to be by fintech startups for fintech startups. So I optimised for fintech founders, builders and investors as attendees and only wanted fintech startups as sponsors. I also didn't want to invite people personally - if they felt the need, if they found value in meeting others, they'd show up themselves. All this also meant no journos, no jaywalkers, no photographers, no fluff. Just builders.

The startups needed exposure (for brand, hiring or whatever their objectives) and this would be a great way for them to build their brand. This meant, no legal firms, no accounting firms, no BigTech firms - none of those as sponsors.

This of course doesn't mean, I will never not diverge from this optimisation. There will be times when I might get an occassional BigTech or law firm sponsor, or approve a non-founder, non-fintech attendee. But my aim will always be to minimise it as much as possible.

Through the years, I've been fortunate to have had the following brands and people believe in me and the events: Falcon, Jar, Bank Open, Card91, Pazcare, Eximius Ventures, BharatX, IDFC First Bank, Tartan, M2P, Brankas, Sandbox, AWS, Monnai, Quona, B Capital, Xendit and hopefully more in the future.

Full list of Fintech Happy Hour's organised

Here's a full roster of all events hosted so far, organised chornologically (latest first)

As always, I'd love to hear your feedback, comments, suggestions, critiques and more. Email me at [email protected]

Onward.

Note: All blogs posts till 2022 were migrated to this platform (react+next+tailwind). While all efforts were made to migrate wihtout any loss, the migration lost some images and broke a bunch of links in old posts. If you spot anything amiss, please notify me?