Who you are and what do you do?
My name is Pascal Bouvier and I am a FinTech expert and investor. I am a Venture Partner with Santander InnoVentures, Santander Group’s global fintech venture fund. I was a General Partner with Route 66 Ventures where I built the firm’s fintech venture capital arm into a top 15 global investor as of 2015.
I am passionate about helping reinvent the financial services industry for the 21st century.
Describe a typical work day.
My day is full of data and conversations. The more data and the more conversations the better I am at pattern recognition. The better I am at pattern recognition, the better that makes me as an investor before and after investing. Therefore I devour blogs, research papers, investment decks, any source of data on not only the financial services industry or companies and trends, but also on adjacent technology verticals such as blockchain, IoT, machine learning, AI…
How is what you do important for the fintech venture capital industry?
I believe that finserv = fintech. By that I mean that all participants in the industry, small or big, young or new, startups or incumbents, service providers, will have to behave like technology companies and focus on technology, data and user experience – much like any tech company does, e.g. Amazon, Facebook, Google… This fundamental change will unfold over the next 15 years as we are talking about a very important industry to world GDP.
My day is full of data and conversations. The more data and the more conversations the better I am at pattern recognition.
As an early stage investor my mission and vision is to facilitate this fundamental change by identifying the right business models, the right teams, the right startups, the right technologies, the right visions that will participate and enable said change.
What do you love about your work?
I love to meet entrepreneurs. I love to help them achieve their dreams, their visions. I love to meet financial services incumbents, banks or insurance companies, and help them navigate the future. I love unearthing materially disruptive startups and being part of their growth plans, even if for a short while.
What is the quintessential experience of working in the fintech venture capital industry?
I am a serial processor. I shine when I see many things at once during discovery and due diligence. I like and feed off of this fast pace. I like work places organized around this fast pace, where there is the right mix of open space to brainstorm with others and lay out information and data and private space where to conduct phone calls and company interviews and meetings.
Having flexibility of mind is important and the ability to apply one’s fast pace of working in different environments, on the move, at startup offices, or third parties offices is crucial.
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The best venture investor is the one that constantly thinks on his feet and alternates between being on the move physically and mentally and pondering/reflecting in between bursts of activity.
How old were you when you had your first paying job?
I was 18, I worked as a bank teller in Paris. It is weird to think that in a not so distant future that first job I held will either disappear or be completely different.
What got you started in the venture capital industry?
I first worked with startups and small sized companies either as a CFO or in business development or strategy. I caught the bug and decided that one day I would switch to the “other side of the table” and invest in startups.
Who do you admire?
I admire venture investors that help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. I admire serial entrepreneurs.
Please share an anecdote that is unique to our industry.
It is one thing to hear about and know that at some point the founder of a startup you backed early on will have to step aside and let someone else be a CEO. It is another thing to live it.
As an investor you want to do good by the founder you have backed and want to make sure the startup is on the right track. I lived through a particular founder’s transition from CEO to another role in the startup he created. It was nerve wracking. I encourage any venture investor to live through this experience
What advice would you like to share here that has been important to you?
As a venture investor, build your own heuristics. Heuristics that make sense and will make you a better early stage investor. Do not copy what others do.
Further, make sure you understand the complexity of the financial services industry, which is like no other industry.