"Candy is compulsory." So says Eric Van der Kleij, technology entrepreneur and special adviser to Level39, the FinTech Accelerator space in Canary Wharf, as he guides the Finextra TV team on an exclusive tour of the facility.
Bowls of Smarties and jelly beans are positioned on every available table and desk at the space, located (if you haven't guessed) on the 39th floor of One Canada Square, in the heart of London's Canary Wharf district. This is in contrast to the notable lack of 'toys', game stations or ping pong tables that tend to be stereotypical of male-dominated start-up incubators. This is because, Level39 is a place for 'grow-ups' rather than 'start-ups', says Van der Kleij.
The pantry or eating area of Level39, with its iPad-controlled coffee machine, is populated by efficient looking people in business suits having serious meetings. This not a place to hang out with your MacBook and mocha latte claiming you're building the next great disruptive financial app. Level 39 is positioning itself as an area where businesses can establish themselves, gain access to angel investors and mentors and take advantage of valuable office space centred in the financial industry-heavy Canary Wharf.
The special adviser to Level39, Van der Kleij gave Finextra an exclusive tour of the facility, complete with offices, sandbox testing areas, events space and the soon-to-be-opened Lounge 39 private members club.
Van der Kleij also sat down with Finextra to describe how London should be a FinTech capital and the extensive vetting process companies need to endure in order to gain a spot on Level39.
Finextra managed to pin down two Level39 start-ups to ask about their experiences at the FinTech accelerator.