Mary Antony on The Mint

An interview with Mary Antony, the Founder & CEO of InScope, regarding her experience in The Mint, a fintech accelerator by BTV.
February 19, 2024
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Background

Mary Antony is the Co-Founder & CEO of InScope, which helps customers generate US GAAP financial statements, footnotes, and disclosure checklists at the click of a button. Mary participated in the first cohort of The Mint in August 2023. I talked with Mary about what happens in the program, Demo Day, and what advice she would give to someone to make the most out of their time with the group.

Highlights

  • The Mint program is positioned to support founders at the earliest stage with just an idea to founders at seed who may have a working product and early traction.

  • Much of The Mint's value proposition to founders is direct access to Sheel and Jake, the General Partners at Better Tomorrow Ventures, who are well-connected and have good reputations in the fintech space. Mary noted several examples of how their advice and introductions helped accelerate her company.

  • The Mint's Demo Day was an extension of BTV's LP Day. The Demo Day helped Mary raise her Seed round as their lead investor was in the audience during the presentations.

Interview Transcription

Edited lightly for clarity

Kieran: Hi Mary, thanks for joining me today. To start, do you want to introduce yourself?

Mary: Thanks Kieran. I'm Mary. I'm the Co-Founder & CEO of InScope. At InScope, we're automating financial reporting, which translates to 10 K's and 10Q's for public companies; for private companies, it's their annual reports. 

Kieran: How long have you been working on this company?

Mary: We've been at it for about seven months. My co-founders, Avy and Kelsey, and I jumped into it full-time in July 2023.

Kieran: I reached out because I saw you were in the first cohort of The Mint, which started in August 2023. Is that correct?

Mary: That's right, so we joined The Mint about a month into starting InScope.

Kieran: Why did you apply to The Mint? What stood out about the program?

Mary: I first came across The Mint on TechCrunch. There were a few factors that compelled us to apply to and join The Mint. One was Sheel and Jake. They have an excellent reputation from running 500 Fintech. So, I had heard about them from my network, and the timing was perfect. We are first-time founders, so we thought we could benefit from a structured program as we started our journey. The fintech focus was another factor. We wanted investors and an accelerator program that could guide us through the fintech world.

Kieran: Can you give an overview of the application process?

Mary: Once we submitted the written application, we had an interview with Sheel and JC. Sheel is a General Partner, and JC is an investor at Better Tomorrow Ventures, the VC firm behind The Mint. It was an unstructured 30-45-minute interview. I don't know if it still runs the same way, but we found out either at the end of the same day or the next day that they wanted us to join the program. 

Kieran: What were some of the questions they asked you during the interview?

Mary: We were pre-product and pre-revenue. We didn't have any customers. So, since we were a very new company, they were interested in us — as founders and our backgrounds. Kelsey, Avy, and I all worked at companies that Sheel had angel invested in or, in some form, knew of the companies we worked at. So, there was a deep network there for him to reference check us. It was really about us as the founders and not necessarily the product or business. 

Kieran: The Mint is a 3-month program with an annual retreat, curriculum, coaching, and a tight-knit community of other fintech founders. Can you describe what happens during the program and how they structure it? 

Mary: It was a 10-week program for us. It kicked off at the beginning of August 2023. It was structured in sections or weeks, such as a product-focused week, a design-focused week, a week to cover legal & HR, etc. So, they cover various aspects throughout the program. Towards the tail end of the program, we spent a lot of time preparing for Demo Day. We rehearsed countless times to cut our story to just 2-3 minutes. It sounds silly, but it's one of the most valuable skills for a founder to be able to tell the entire story quickly. After Demo Day, we attended an annual retreat. Besides that, the network was terrific. We met a lot of advisors and people who are now investors in our business from the program.

Kieran: Is this an in-person or remote program?

Mary: It's an in-person program.

Kieran: What was the most valuable aspect of the program for your team?

Mary: It goes back to being first-time founders. We needed to make so many choices and decisions at the very beginning. Having access to Sheel and Jake to get advice from was incredibly helpful. I'll give you an example. When we send out notes to ask for introductions to a potential customer, you send a blurb on your company. I remember sending it to Sheel, and he just walked over to my desk and said, "Let's workshop your intro." He sat with me, and we worked on this Google Doc together to workshop it. It was very hands-on, personalized, and super helpful.

Kieran: You joined The Mint one month into starting your company. What stage were the other companies in the batch?

Mary: It was all over the place. One company essentially had product-market-fit. They had $100K+ in revenue and several users. There was quite a spectrum. We were one of the earliest companies; some were 2-3 years in with a lot of traction. 

Kieran: The Mint invests $500K for 10%. Are there any other investment rights or things to be aware of regarding their accelerator deal?

Mary: It's a fairly standard deal, and it's clean because there is no separate investment on an MFN where subsequent rounds will dictate the investor's ownership. This is a straight $500K for 10%.

Kieran: At the end of the program, The Mint's website says they host a live demo day. Can you talk more about how that was structured? What happens on Demo Day?

Mary: This year, the Demo Day was structured as an extension of the Better Tomorrow Ventures LP Day. There were about 200 investors present on Demo Day, and we were one of eight companies with 2-3 minutes each to pitch our stories. It was an incredible experience. We met our Seed investor in the audience at Demo Day. 

Kieran: What advice would you give to someone applying to The Mint?

Mary: They look to see if you deeply understand your business and for domain expertise. Then, just be yourself. There should be a mutual fit between the program and the company.

Kieran: What advice would you give to a founder accepted into The Mint to make the most out of the program?

Mary: I recommend spending more time with your program to all the folks who get in. It is an intense ten weeks, but remember to look up and connect with fellow folks in your program. This is where you will get a lot of value from the program.

Kieran: Is there anything I didn't ask about that is important to know if you're considering The Mint?

Mary: One thing that many folks worry about with accelerators is the dilution — giving up X% of your company for cash. My advice is that these outcomes are binary, so increasing your odds of success by joining a program like The Mint far outweighs the dilution you take, in my opinion. So, remember that these outcomes are binary.