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FinTech Lab fosters opportunities for student entrepreneurs

Fostering growth of entrepreneurs and their businesses is the ultimate goal of NMSU’s FinTech Lab. FinTech Lab is a student-led program powered by Nusenda Credit Union, and is part of NMSU’s Arrowhead Center. FinTech Lab strives to assist local entrepreneurs with beginning the process of developing new financial technologies.

Located at the Arrowhead Center on the NMSU main campus in Las Cruces, the Fintech Lab aims to foster entrepreneurship by helping people develop their business ideas. (Image courtesy of Fintech Lab)

The program offers participants developmental guidance and resources to develop new technologies that can transform not only the community, but also society. The lab provides a variety of resources to help with technology-driven innovations and connections. These resources include a co-working office space, computing systems, assistance from software engineers, IBM/Amazon Web Services cloud credits and an advisory network.

According to Carlos Cuesta, program director at FinTech, the advisory network provides students with advice from experts in different areas of expertise.  

“Students or applicants can schedule a Zoom meeting with industry experts through this platform, so it is kind of like a mentorship and guide resource,” Cuesta said.

The organization is inclusive and pursues diversity. Its services are open to people from Las Cruces, as well as El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Ian Sanchez, FinTech Lab graphic designer, left, discusses the upcoming 2023 Pitch Competition with program director Carlos Cuesta in the FinTech Lab office on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Photo by Elizabeth McCall / Kokopelli)

While FinTech Lab is open to these regions, it is led by NMSU students. FinTech Lab hires students who are involved with software engineering, marketing, graphic design and finance.

“I oversee the activities, but the students are the ones who take the initiative,” Cuesta said. “I want to see them grow professionally and I want the program to serve as a pipeline for them to land good jobs and internships with real-life experience.”

FinTech Lab hosts workshops, which take place twice a semester. These workshops include guest speakers who are industry experts on entrepreneurship. The workshops help participants gain knowledge and receive answers to questions. FinTech Lab also hosts a pitch competition.

The objective of the 2023 Pitch Competition is to give students exposure and provide a platform to practice pitching their own business ideas. This competition has a two-month prep period where members at FinTech Lab teach participants about entrepreneurship by helping students prepare for the competition before the semi-final and final events take place. Industry experts and NMSU entrepreneurship or business professors volunteer to judge the competitions.

Ian Sanchez, NMSU senior and FinTech Lab graphic designer, said that working for the program has helped him grow his portfolio.

“It gives us space to grow outside of what we’re studying, but also what we’re actually going to be implementing in our day-to-day lives,” Sanchez said.

Not only do students work for FinTech Lab, but the lab also works with student participants. The lab has helped students with successful business ideas, and is currently working with a team of students and a finance professor on new projects. Cuesta said their goal is to have their students receive the benefits of hands-on experience so that even if they fail, they can still learn from their mistakes before joining the industry.

“It’s very important for us to know more about these technologies,” Sanchez added. “Understanding more of the technical basis of FinTech does really help in moving forward with your company.”

FinTech Lab serves the community by helping the entire local business ecosystem to flourish.

“The whole premise behind financial technologies, I think, is it enables financial inclusion,” Cuesta said. “I just want to share with our community, our students and our network the importance of entrepreneurship in society.”

FinTech Lab is located at 3655 Research Dr. at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center. To research more about FinTech Lab or to apply, visit the Fintech Lab website.

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