Much to the surprise of the cynicerati of the Fintech world (I am a member) the uber hyped and funded payments startup Clinkle has finally launched.
Much of the fervent hype focused on how these smart folk from Stanford were going to disrupt the payments industry. They managed to bag around $25 million in funding including high profile backing from Richard Branson. They made a series of big name hires and their success looked on track.
Then the stories of a dysfunctional team, a number of those high profile hires became high profile fires and suddenly that big chunk of funding began to look like a millstone of Color proportions.
Time went by and scorn was poured. Finally something emerged and it looks pretty average at first glance. A prepaid debit card backed up by an app with budgeting capability and ‘treats’ i.e. Rewards you can earn and share with friends. Nothing special. The Fintech cynicerati seemingly proved right.
I include myself as a massive cynic and member of that group but I have to wonder why I am so disdainful. A bunch of smart young people (bloody kids!) raised as much money as they could (too much, too young) and then created a wave of hype which has threatened to drown them from the off (probably overly confident surf bros who thought they could ride it).
I think basically my cynicism comes down to jealously they had ideas, they raised money against those ideas, they and the system that funded them built the hype machine that fuelled them but at the end of the day they have delivered something.
It is easy to get caught up in the hype and the message it delivering. Let’s all laugh at these kids who raised too much and could not deal with the pressure of running such a high profile project because page views and virtual fist bumps.
It is easy to throw stones from the sidelines and think you could have done better with $25 million dollars or you would not have raised as much or you would not have sought the hype or you would have hired better people or had less of an ego. You can blame the Sillicon Valley bubble and the game they played like thousands of others do less successfully everyday but these are all just reckons.
These kids did it and they have something out in the world that may make a dent in the way college kids use money and that could scale. It could of course fail and all our scorn will have been well founded and we can go back to our positions of smug privilege reaffirmed of our laser sharp insight.
Good luck to the Clinkle team. Payments and banking is massively complex and you have to admire anyone who tries something different. I hope they can emerge from the weight of expectation and derision and live up to a fraction of their hype. I also hope I can stop being such a cynical dick but I doubt it.