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Startup Spotlight: Fintel Connect is scaling growth for fintech and banking companies

Serial entrepreneur and marketing veteran, Nicky Senyard, shares how Fintel Connect became a leading partner for the likes of BMO, Scotiabank, RBC, and CIBC

Welcome to Vancouver Tech Journal’s startup spotlight series, where we dive into companies building in Vancouver.

Early into the Internet era, Nicky Senyard pivoted her career from working in public relations to digital marketing.

Photo: Nicky Senyard

Senyard was consulting for a business that used affiliate programs. It immediately felt like a natural fit for her. She was used to working with journalists on crafting messaging and found herself doing the same with publishers. 

Unlike traditional advertising methods, Senyard also appreciated that affiliate programs involve only paying for the results achieved.

Already a marketing expert by then, Senyard started thinking about ways to optimize affiliate programs within the gaming industry. The inspiration led to her first venture, Income Access — which, later successfully divested in 2016.

Now, Senyard is focused on her second venture: Fintel Connect. On what the company means to her, Senyard shared:

“Its inception grew from recognizing an untapped and niche opportunity within the financial services sector. Fintel Connect complements my passion for earned media and performance-based payment models.”

Photo: Fintel Connect

To date, Fintel Connect is a leading marketing partner for fintech and banking and was even named a ‘high performer’ in a G2 report of tech solutions. Clients include the likes of BMO, Scotiabank, RBC, and CIBC.

Senyard sat down with the Vancouver Tech Journal to share her journey in building Fintel Connect — including how she overcame the biggest challenge — and what advice she has for other startups building in Vancouver.

What’s your elevator pitch?

We partner with financial institutions aiming to increase their number of new customers per product — credit cards, chequing, or savings accounts. 

Our approach operates on a pay-per-results model, ensuring the financial institution only pays for the customers they acquire.

Photo: Fintel Connect

When did you start your company?

Fintel Connect embodies what I term a ‘Phoenix company.’ 

Its origins trace back to a different sector. 

In late 2011, we onboarded a financial institution as a client, followed by another in the subsequent year. 

After the sale of Income Access in 2016, I took a hiatus to contemplate my next steps. 

Eventually, we opted to reinvent ourselves, doubling down to establish a fresh company with innovative technology, a new name, and a brand identity. 

Rising from the proverbial ashes, Fintel Connect emerged in its current form in 2020.

What was the catalyst behind starting your company? 

Every successful company begins with a necessity. 

A decade ago, a financial institution reached out to us, seeking our proficiency in overseeing and operating its affiliate program within the digital landscape. 

This encounter made me realize that this client's requirement was not exclusive and that there were others with similar needs. It was this realization that prompted us to act and begin this journey.

What problem is Fintel Connect solving?

Fintel Connect addresses the challenge of customer acquisition faced by financial institutions. 

Our technology and services enable them to expand their net new customer base in a cost-effective manner by paying solely for the results achieved.

What markets are you in?

We currently serve the North American region in both Canadian and U.S. markets. 

How big is your team?

Our team is expanding. 

Currently, we have approximately 42 talented members, and by the end of the year, our headcount will reach 50.

Photo: Fintel Connect

Are you hiring?

I'm delighted to say that our team is expanding. 

We have openings for positions in the client services team, sales team, and technical team. We encourage interested candidates to explore the career section of our website and apply for any open positions that match their skills and interests.

Have you raised money?

We have successfully closed a seed round with two key investors: BankTech Ventures, a strategic venture fund based in the U.S., and Export Development Canada, a department of the government of Canada.

Are you profitable?

I'm thrilled to say that we are achieving break-even this year and are steadily progressing towards profitability.

What does Fintel Connect need right now?

Financial brands operate within a highly regulated sector. 

My passion lies in helping marketers adhere to these regulations while streamlining labour-intensive manual tasks through automation. Currently, we're collaborating with developers to refine an AI content compliance tool, which requires time to meet my standards.

Additionally, we're focused on cultivating stronger partnerships with major financial institutions. We aim to offer insightful thought leadership and practical tools to help them grasp affiliate marketing's potential and impact on their businesses.

Where do you want Fintel Connect to be in 3, 6, and 9 years?

I envision Fintel Connect as a billion-dollar enterprise that grows organically and geographically through diversified product offerings and strategic mergers and acquisitions. 

When I project 10 years into the future and work backward, I see every milestone achieved in the next three, six, and nine years as essential stepping stones toward realizing the company's colossal potential.

Looking back on the early days of starting Fintel Connect, what was the biggest challenge faced? How did you overcome it?

Our greatest obstacle was time. 

Starting this company, I brought experience from launching a previous venture. But this time, we also had sufficient funds to invest in the business. I assumed that with both money and experience, progress would be much faster than it has been.

While this business has indeed progressed more rapidly than my previous one, it hasn't quite matched the pace I anticipated. 

It remains challenging when you possess intimate knowledge of your content area yet are still acquainting yourself with the market context. I understand the logic behind the process, but I didn’t see it taking quite this long. 

What advice do you have for other startups in Vancouver?

If you have got a vision and a unique idea brewing, my advice is to tune in to what the market is saying. Whether it's feedback from current clients, potential clients, or those you pitch to, really absorb what they're telling you. 

Next, stay grounded and practical. A business thrives when it's making more money than it's spending. So, unless you've got a way to keep the cash flow healthy, stay grounded in the financial realities. 

Thirdly, success can come in unexpected ways. You might start on one path only to find a more fruitful direction through a pivot. You won't know until you're in the thick of it.

And lastly, hang in there. Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster of emotions. Stay resilient and keep pushing forward. Eventually, if you heed the feedback, stay practical, and keep grinding away, you'll hit that sweet spot where your business can truly flourish.

How can people connect with you?

You can visit our website or find me on LinkedIn

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