Just like any entrepreneur the journey to create and grow a company has not been easy. Victor Salinas, CEO of Aiontech, co-founded his company more than 9 years ago in Mexico city. The complexity of growing a Fintech company is well known for this entrepreneur as he has passed through the experience to go through the different regulations Fintech companies have to face. He then made the decision to enter to the Canadian market, incorporate and invest in the country and finally obtained the support to become a part of the Startup Visa Program at LatAm Startups.
Victor Salinas was looking into new markets, and being part of the Toronto community gave him the possibility to explore UK. Our marketing assistant Gabriela Lafief interviewed Victor to share his story about this first trade mission to the UK.
How was your Mission Trip? Run us through it!
It was an incredible, yet very busy, five-days! I found the trip really useful and eye-opening. I was grateful to be in Canada because if not, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate in the UK Fintech Trade Mission, which was arranged by Toronto Region Board of Trade and WTC Toronto.
We started the trip in Edinburgh. We went to a couple of accelerators there, such as IBM Innovation Lab, to talk about what IBM is doing, Fintech, their accelerator program, as well as meeting a few companies in the program. I was able to make some important connections there. We also went to Data Lab, which is a government organization working inside the University of Edinburgh. It is helping companies who want to train AI models by providing data. With the support of big organizations, they are able to collect those data and support UK companies for them to utilize the data.
Next, we made our way to the Scotland Prime Minister House and talked to government officials as well as the Ministry of Economy. They held a networking reception in which we tried different types of Scottish Whiskey and networked with companies from various industries.
After a few days, we moved to London, where we went to more accelerators. One of them was RISE Accelerator, which is supported by Barclays. It is interesting because if you are a Fintech company in that accelerator program, they are willing to give you some investment for your business. If you have a product that Barclays is interested in, they can make an agreement with you regarding the sales of your product, but if not, you still can sell your products however you want to.
We also made our way to the Canada House, which is the Embassy of Canada in London. They held a fancy evening reception for about 100 selected people only, including the participants of the Mission Trip. There, they presented how the Toronto Board of Trade is helping Ontario companies to grow in the UK, and the relationship between UK and Canada. High Commissioner of Canada in the UK also attended the reception. People from UK’s Department of International Trade were also present to talk about how they are working very closely with the Toronto Board of Trade to attract more Canadian companies. Later on, the companies from the Mission Trip were introduced and we had to pitch on the stage.
We participated in the Regulatory Framework for Fintech Companies session held in Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates all Fintech companies there. They are trying to create a pilot for a global regulation process for Fintech companies, creating a standardized regulation for companies to be able to expand in different countries without having to fulfill all the different and complex regulations each country has. I found this really interesting!
Last, we went to the London Tech Week, which was awesome experience.
How is the Fintech ecosystem in the UK?
It seems that the ecosystem is very open for the Fintech community. The ecosystem is mature, and there are less restrictions for Fintech companies. As a matter of fact, UK was the first to establish Fintech laws. Since they are the pioneer, they are definitely ready to welcome innovation and disruptive technology in this sector. It is common to see big banks collaborating with smaller Fintech companies, which shows the openness of the ecosystem. A lot big Fintech companies you see nowadays started off in the UK and grew impressively there as they find themselves having really good support and investment through the ecosystem.
Other than the business aspect, did you have some time to enjoy the city?
I’ve had five days to visit some places, spending most of them in London. They were both very interesting places and I really enjoyed them! I love the nature and the green in Edinburgh. Imagine you are in the Game of Thrones—the old castles and an old city. On the other hand, there is a neighbourhood which is the complete opposite – modern, advanced, technological. This rare combination exists in Edinburgh! The city has these amazing data labs, with big financial institutions that create innovative centres to grow the Fintech community there. It is a small and quiet city; hence it is not too crowded. I loved it very much.
I walked everywhere in London. Wanting to experience the English culture, I went to the pubs, eat the local food: the English breakfast, fish and chips, drank tea with milk… Just immersing myself in the culture the best I can, really!
What do you think of the culture?
I love the English culture, especially the music. Personally, I love rock music. Throughout the years some of the best rock musicians were from England, so immediately I enjoyed the music culture there. I find people really warm, probably because London welcomes diversity. Since they know that a lot of people in the city are foreigners or immigrants, I feel that they expect us to make mistakes, because we do not know the rules of the city very much. Hence, they are more accepting when we make mistakes – the locals have the initiative to help us and are respectful in doing so. They are really open to listen and do business with you, which is similar to Toronto. Also, what I realized is that everywhere I go, Londoners love to make jokes and have fun!
About Victor Salinas
Victor is the CEO at Aiontech, which has been in the Fintech industry for 20 years. It is a company that provides innovative technological solutions development in different industries such as finance, business, security, as well as human approach for reaching your objectives.