MEETOURMENTOR: Nic Lenz – Senior Executive in business growth

Nic Lenz is a Senior Executive with extensive experience in leading business growth. We caught up with him for  advice on penetrating and engaging with large financial institutions, understanding capital markets, defining and expanding into new markets and achieving sustainable growth.

What are some common themes you have discussed with startups?

How to approach and penetrate large financial institutions. You should start by defining the type of institution you want to go after and why. Targeting a global bulge bracket investment bank is a very different proposition than engaging with a local commercial bank. Both have very different cultures, organisational structures, stakeholders and decision-making complexities.

Another is understanding and articulating your value proposition. What is the problem you are trying to solve and what makes your solution more compelling than the alternatives? Be articulate, clear and concise in the value your product or service brings to the table. Demonstrate, preferably using real-world examples, in clearly defined terms the impact your solution will have.

What is your best advice for engaging with financial institutions? 

It is crucial that start-ups have a clearly defined target audience in mind. A research analyst at an investment bank will have a very different set of work flows and pain points versus a sales person or trader for example. Be clear about where your product or solution has the greatest potential impact and chance of buy-in. Be passionate about your product, you will need to “move” your audience in order to have a chance of success. It’s equally important to stick to the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid!) and speak in plain and simple terms.

How would a startup begin to expand into new markets?

Do your homework. Too many young companies I meet have a great product but fail to fully understand their target clients. By this I mean being able to truly gauge the mind-set of your prospect both at a company as well as at an individual level. What issues and dynamics are dominating their industry/company? What are the key strategic priorities? What is keeping your client up at night? This is not easy but it’s absolutely crucial, especially when dealing with large corporates. Use your contacts and business network. Ask questions. Attend conferences and engage with the sector/market you want to enter.


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