Fintech Bootcamp Overview
DFS Lab’s bootcamps are intensive one-week design sprints made to help early-stage entrepreneurs prototype and test new fintech ideas. We select a small group of the best teams who apply and pair them with experienced, industry leading mentors. Our own team facilitates the process and uses it as a way to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our potential portfolio companies. The startups who rise to the top are offered an opportunity to join our six month accelerator with continued funding and support to build the next generation of fintech innovations for the mass market.
Day 1: Define
On day one, teams meet each other and get settled in for the week ahead. The goal of the first day is to define the problem that each team will aim to solve by the end of the week. Teams start at the end and define their long-term goal: the specific problem they want to solve for a target customer. The key is to pick an ambitious but also manageable problem that can be tested during the week. This serves as a guidepost for the work that the teams will do the rest of the week.
Day 2: Sketch
After defining the problem and choosing a feature or product for the sprint, the teams then sketch solutions. This turns abstract ideas from the previous day into concrete solutions. The day will start with quick demonstrations of remixed ideas from other industries or companies to create novel solutions. This serves as inspiration for the sketches. The sketches follow a structured methodology that focus more on critical thinking than on artistry, allowing everyone to contribute effectively regardless of artistic talent. These sketches then become the building blocks of the ideas that will be tested in front of real customers on Friday.
Day 3: Decide
The third day is full of critical evaluation of the previous day’s sketches and solutions. After coming up with lots of ideas of how to solve their specified problem, teams must now decide on the one solution that they will iterate upon and improve for the rest of the design sprint. They do this through what is called an ‘Art Museum,’ which is a structured way of displaying and evaluating the different sketches. Teams notate the things that they like about each solution and discuss why they think those features would solve their long term goal. Then teams take the winning scenes and features from each sketch and combine them into a storyboard, a step-by-step plan for their prototype.
Day 4: Prototype
On Day 4, teams will turn their storyboards into a prototype that can be tested with real customers on Day 5. All of the hard design decisions have already been made, so teams focus on building a realistic simulation of how their product or service will look, feel, and work. The goal is to be able to design the prototype in such a way that key feature and business assumptions can be tested. However, teams must achieve an important balance between providing enough detail that their customers can know what the experience will be like but not adding too much that teams can’t finish building their prototype in a single day.
Day 5: Customer Testing
On the fifth day of the bootcamp, teams test their prototypes on their target customer segment. This means that they are doing remote customer testing, which is one of the bootcamp’s unique features. Teams are able to accurately test their products and ideas on their target population no matter where the bootcamp is held. This allows teams to test key assumptions and see how customers interact with their product or service. The customer-testing will give teams answers to their business and design questions, and will likely lay out next steps for future development.
Day 6: Prototype Demos + Checkout
On the final day of the bootcamp, teams present their products and services and what they learned form their customer testing. This provides the DFS Lab team with valuable information for when we make our funding decisions, and also helps the entrepreneurial teams talk effectively about their product or service. Then all of the teams depart with real prototypes of their business ideas, a plan for how to move forward, and a network of fintech industry leaders. The most successful teams will also earn up to $100K in funding and six months of support in DFS Lab’s accelerator.