ONE Connection | Third Quarter 2022
The Firm's Upcoming FinAccelerate Program: A Preview
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The Firm's upcoming FinAccelerate program is being hosted by the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices on October 25–27. It will feature nearly 50 Jones Day lawyers and more than 20 advisors, investors, and influencers, as well as an audience of leading banks, venture capitalists, and fintech "unicorns." The three-day program will cover the fundamental areas of law relevant to innovative fintech companies and enable selected fintech businesses to access leading investors, corporations, financial institutions, and potential joint venture partners. From a broad range of applicants, a cohort of 16 to 18 companies will be chosen to participate.
Fintech encompasses a wide range of financial technologies, including the volatile, headline-grabbing cryptocurrencies. "You've heard a lot about crypto in the news, but we are trying to make sure we stay focused on the investment side of it, as opposed to the speculation side," said Brett Barragate, chair of the Americas region of Jones Day's Financial Markets Practice, in a recent interview. "There's a lot of speculation right now in crypto, a lot of trading, and that's not really where we are as a Firm or a practice. We're watching to figure out where the investment is going to be permanent. Who are those players? That's where we want to be."
To preview the program, ONE Connection spoke with Abradat Kamalpour, the San Francisco-based Financial Markets partner who is also the architect of FinAccelerate. Here are excerpts from our recent conversation.
Tell us about FinAccelerate. Who is it for?
FinAccelerate is addressing the needs of fintech companies, but also addressing the needs of institutions and investors that are seeking fintech innovation and company investment opportunities. It has been very much designed based on market feedback. It is an accelerator program designed to give fintech companies legal know-how and support, as well as exposure to investors, venture capitalists, and potential joint venture partners.
How is it different from other accelerator programs?
The major advantage FinAccelerate has is that it is empowered by Jones Day, with international legal reach and support. Having the additional legal support for these companies is crucial. Fintech is the most legally intensive area of technology by far.
What can the participants hope to gain from the program?
If they successfully get a place, they receive two days of legal know-how and support from different lawyers across different practice areas. In addition, they get exposure to some of the leading investors and influencers in the world in the fintech market. The first two days are devoted to legal support. The third day is "demo day," when they will get access to those investors and influencers.
What has the response been like?
It's been phenomenal. We have had more than 60 applications since we officially launched. We have really good companies applying. (Note: The application portal is now closed.)
What types of companies are showing interest and applying?
It's been very interesting. We've got some really early stage companies applying and some companies that are near "unicorn" level. They are in different areas of fintech and digital assets, but they are at different levels of maturity and from different jurisdictions. In addition to the United States, we are getting a lot of international applicants—from London and Europe, to Africa and India. We're going to have a great mix.
How does an emerging fintech company set itself apart?
The criteria we use to assess the companies are the three Qs: Quality of team, Quality of innovation, Quality of technology.
FinAccelerate promotes the possibility of continued interaction with attendees and participants after the event. How do you see that playing out?
We might organize meetups, either virtually or in person, between the cohorts and others who are interested in continued engagement with them. Some partner companies and institutions may want to run workshops for them.
What else should we look for moving forward?
We hope to make this an annual event. There is also going to be a FinAccelerate White Paper. We will probably publish that shortly after "demo day," and it will collate a lot of legal know-how into one document. We want to make it the resource for investors, VCs, private equity firms, banks, and fintech companies.
What are some of the significant trends in the digital assets area, and how is Jones Day responding to them?
The biggest trend now is how regulators are going to regulate the space. They are grappling with that, drafting legislation, and trying to figure out how to deal with this in a way that protects investors and consumers but does not stifle innovation. Jones Day is working hard to address these issues by being at the cutting edge of the market and providing know-how. This is why FinAccelerate is so timely.
For more information on FinAccelerate and the participants, visit www.finaccelerate.com.
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