Truth be told, 2020 has been a crazy year for all of us.

But that’s exactly why we should celebrate good things when they come our way all the more. Talking about good things, we have news! We just got word that vcita was chosen to participate in Mastercard’s award-winning startup engagement program, Start Path.

Founded in 2014, The Start Path program brings together the best and brightest startups from across the world (their words, not ours!) for a 6-month virtual program.

The end goal? To create a network of innovators from across the globe to re-shape and rethink the future of commerce. Wow.

To understand what joining this program means for vcita, we pow-wowed with vcita’s CBDO, Adi Engel. 

Q: Good to see you, Adi! For those in the community who don’t know you yet, can you tell us a little bit about your team and your role? 

A: Absolutely. My team and I basically spend our time thinking about how vcita could reach new audiences and create a positive impact on an ever-growing number of business owners’ lives. 

You can think of it as “if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…” kind of challenge: we are so lucky to have an amazing community of business owners who found us through our various channels, but we’re trying to figure out additional ways of reaching the ones who can benefit from the solution but don’t necessarily know where to start looking. 

We do it mainly by forming strategic partnerships with like-minded companies who are as passionate as us about creating great products for SMEs and helping them incorporate into their day-to-day.

Q: We’ve been working with Mastercard for a while now, haven’t we?

A: Yes! Our first joint initiative was to launch a platform to support European SME owners through COVID-19, which we announced in April. 

The idea was for us to bring to market a first-of-its-kind education-based CRM built for SMEs and their business needs. 

This effort is ongoing, and we keep coming up with new ideas and new solutions we can create together, which is the sign of great things to come.

Q: How did the relationship with Mastercard Start Path come to be?

A: Well, it feels like a different era now, but not that long ago travelling for conferences was still a thing, and we met Marcus O’Toole at a conference in Vienna. As I mentioned, Marcus heads the SME Products for Mastercard Europe, and we immediately felt there was great alignment between their values and goals and vcita’s.

Marcus, Mayank Gupta who manages our relationship, and their team have been great champions for us ever since, and they are the ones who introduced us to Start Path. We were quick to apply following their recommendation, and we were thrilled to discover the Start Path team chose us to join Wave 17.

Q: What are we hoping to achieve by joining the program?

A: First of all, the team at Start Path is highly experienced in working with financial institutions and startups like us, so even to be selected by this group of experts feels validating to our product and our go-to-market approach.

We hope to learn from their experience and work together to reach hundreds of thousands of business owners through their partner network. I believe there is great urgency for the entire financial ecosystem to make strides in the digital inclusion of SMEs, and strategic alliances will become the facilitator of digital transformation for the SME community.

We are an ambitious group of people, as you know, and that is another thing our partners in Mastercard and we have in common. We’re in it to make a positive impact on business owners’ lives.

Q: What was it like to join the Start Path program remotely?

A: It was… The new normal, right? I would have loved to travel and meet the team and the other participants; I don’t think anyone there wouldn’t have. But as a person who used to live in airports and on airplanes, I’m amazed by how many things you can actually do over a conference call that we thought can only be done face to face.

It was inspiring to listen to the other participants and witness the innovation that is happening in the fintech space right now, I truly envy the Start Path team who get to engage with hundreds of such innovators for a living.

Q: What’s next for vcita with Start Path?

A: Lots and lots of thinking and planning, needless to say. We are just at the start of the six-month program, so it’s all ahead of us still. I can already say that we have so much to learn from our program sponsors, Angenette Meaney and Ian O’Sullivan, and I am very excited for what is to come. 

Thank you Adi for sharing your insights and thoughts on this new exciting milestone with our Mastercard partners. It’s been great!

If you want to learn more about our partnerships and how –  together – we can help small businesses succeed, get in touch with our vcita partners team.