Localogy 20/20: Technologies for SMBs in the Changing Physical World

It is really fun to have a history with panelists. Whether the sessions are in-person as in the past (and will be again) or virtually like Localogy 20/20. That was definitely the case when I interviewed long time friend and industry activist Dave Galvan this afternoon. As we mentioned, Dave and I first met maybe 20 years ago when he was hanging out at Yahoo doing some of the biggest partnership deals at the time. 

Now Dave is at Mastercard, one of the preeminent players in the small business, local ecosystem. Afterall, Mastercard touches some 25 million small businesses around the world. That is a ton of contact and interactions. And those interactions are usually at the point of truth — when a small business owner is getting paid by a customer. 

I think of Dave’s role at Mastercard as an orchestrator. He is helping an oldline banking institution become an online powerhouse. He does that by meeting with something like 500 companies and start-ups in the Bay Area and around the country. We talked at some length about how living in lock-dow mode has changed Dave’s approach to vetting all those start-ups. 

Picking Up ‘Visual Cues’ in the Zoom Era

Like many of us, Dave used to travel considerably – around the country and around the world. And when you meet people in person there are “visual cues” that help you assess a company founder. Those visual cues helped Dave to determine whether or not a business model or company had “legs”. Now he does this on phone calls. And he acknowledges this is not nearly as optimal an approach. So now he augments those phone meetings with companies by using his vast network of VCs, PEs, and incubators as a referral base upon which he can build relationships over the phone.

One way he makes sure the founder is for real is to get a sense of how well they understand the vast complexities of the financial ecosystem. So when he’s speaking with a founder, Dave listens carefully to how well they grasp those complexities. If they don’t have a clue, he moves on quickly. After all, he’s talking to between two and five companies a day. Now that he’s not traveling, he is able to make more calls and has more conversations. Albeit by phone. 

Dave, and by association Mastercard, is about building early-stage relationships with up and coming fintech companies. He knows that by engaging with Mastercard early on, those early-stage start-ups can save hundreds of hours and tons of cycle time as they figure out payment and transaction models. In the life of an early-stage company, that could be the difference between breaking and breaking out. 

Technologies for SMBs in the Changing Physical World
With consumers radically shifting some of their shopping behaviors, what steps must local, small businesses take to acquire, engage and retain them. How will they leverage technology to meet the changing expectations and what skills will they need to run those technologies.

David Galvan, Mastercard
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