The bitcoin revolution opened the door to a wide variety of new FinTech start-ups. Rise centers in 6 different cities across the world are at the heart of the development of these new businesses. We had the privilege to interview a select group of the Rise Vilnius staff. We asked them about the Rise innovation accelerator in Vilnius, among other questions to find out more about the FinTech start-up environment in Lithuania. Here are some of their insights.
What is Rise all about?
Bitcoin Chaser: Tell us a little bit about the story of Rise Vilnius. How was it established?
Rise Vilnius: Rise Vilnius is part of the global Rise network that was created by Barclays. Rise Vilnius was opened on 14th of July, 2016 and is part of the global Rise network that was created by Barclays. Other Rise locations: New York, London, Manchester, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Mumbai. Lithuania and the region around is well known for it’s strong IT professionals and emerging Fintech startup ecosystem that’s why Rise was established in Vilnius.
Bitcoin Chaser: Since Rise Vilnius was established, how many companies have ‘graduated’ at the center and are currently expanding in the market with a functional product or service?
Rise Vilnius: We’re mainly preselecting companies who are mature enough and already have their clients or products on the market.
Bitcoin Chaser: How many start-ups are you currently hosting at your Rise center?
Rise Vilnius: At Rise Vilnius co-working space we are hosting 20 Fintech startups.
Bitcoin Chaser: How do you help these start-ups develop their projects until they have a mature product?
Rise Vilnius: We have various programs which help them to grow and scale their services globally – Rise Mentoring sessions, Rise to the Challenge, Barclays Accelerator and of course our help to be linked with various experts, Barclays’ colleagues and other startups globally.
How does the Blockchain Environment look like in Lithuania in General and Vilnius in Particular?
Bitcoin Chaser: Looking at the ‘blockchain-ecosystem’ in Vilnius, what is unique about it? Which advantages does Vilnius have over other cities in terms of FinTech innovation?
Rise Vilnius: In our opinion one of the biggest advantages is the active support from the Central Bank of Lithuania and other institutions like Startup Lithuania. They introduced many positive changes in regulations and presented Startup Visa for the startups from non-EU countries.
Bitcoin Chaser: What do you think about bitcoin and blockchain technology regulation in general, and how are the local authorities in Lithuania dealing with it?
Rise Vilnius: It’s still a grey field for many institutions and startups. Because of that we don’t have many startups or companies who have integrated this technology into their products. It’s just a matter of time until we see more blockchain technology implementations. At this point it looks very positive when we’re talking about regulation in Lithuania in general and a good thing about bitcoin and blockchain is that all the authorities here are open to discuss the issue.
Thoughts about Rise, Blockchain, Start-ups and the Future
Bitcoin Chaser: If you had enough funding to set a new Rise center in any country other than the ones in which there already is one, which country and which city within that country would you pick? Why?
Rise Vilnius: Our goal is to make the strongest Fintech community in the world which will create the future of financial services. We are in 6 strongest Fintech locations and there are no plans to expand at this moment.
Bitcoin Chaser: If a high school student comes up to you and asks what does he or she have to do in order to launch a blockchain-based start-up or any other kind of FinTech initiative, which steps would you advise him or her to follow and why?
Rise Vilnius: First of all we would invite them to come to our events and fully understand what’s most interesting for them. Also they would learn a lot of new things and could have a chance to meet with other startups or experts during the networking sessions. After that they could join Meetup groups and look for like-minded people or join their teams.
Bitcoin Chaser: Which are the most common weaknesses that you see in blockchain or FinTech entrepreneurs and how do you suggest they overcome them?
Rise Vilnius: The biggest weakness is lack of clarity or information. Our goal is to help them to solve these problems and to give them a chance to connect with startups from other countries or watch live streamed events and raise the awareness of what’s happening in other countries or continents. The “Banking on Bitcoin” movie is one of those elements that will help them understand the world of the Bitcoin better.