YI Incubator: The Journey from Boot Camps to Demo Day

One of our company goals is to be more hands-on in the innovation ecosystem, which means offering more than financial data to startups. It means getting deeply involved, helping to finance some companies, provide expert mentorship, and give direct exposure to engineers working on our data platform. To that end, we started the Incubator program in 2014, and I came on board to run it. We had over 60 companies apply to the Incubator, and chose eight to form our initial class.

The Incubator itself is a series of three-day boot camps in San Francisco, where our eight companies learn about business topics and high-level strategy, such as how to define their value proposition, raise capital, and then work with our technical team on programming issues. The final part of the Incubator is our Demo Day in May, where each startup will pitch their company and products to a group of investors and potential partners. We held the first boot camp last November and have two more scheduled before Demo Day.

This is our first Incubator class and we're refining the approach as we go. Our first boot camp focused mainly on individual presentations, while our next one has several panel discussions scheduled — Financial Institutions and Digital Innovation, How to Sell, Fundraising, and Legal Issues for Startups.

We'll also hold several brainstorming, networking, and work sessions; Rose Figliano of RXF Lab will give a lunchtime talk about the power of Design Thinking, and the next day, Deirdre Davi from Sterling Brands will talk about how to tell a great story.

As companies go through the incubation process and get to know each other, we are focusing more on collaboration and pitching, and less on presentations and educational sessions. That's because at Demo Day the startups' pitches need to be amazing. Once we’ve helped them think through how to build their business, we need to teach them how to pitch it. They won't have a business to build if they can't secure funding.

Demo Day is where we invite venture capitalists and the press, and each company gives a dazzling eight-minute presentation. The goal is that once companies give their presentation, the investors will clamor to invest, and the press will clamor to write about them. Given the ideas and hard work we've already seen after the first boot camp, I think we'll meet that goal.

If you'd like more information about our Incubator or Demo Day, please contact me at jcain@yodlee.com or visit our website. We’re excited about working with innovative companies and partners to fuel growth in the FinDat ecosystem!