top of page
Screen Shot 2021-04-27 at 9.07.18 AM.png

Illuminate x Midtown - My Experience Having Done 2 Conferences

Hey everyone! My name is Austin Lai and I am an IB student at Alexander Mackenzie and I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two conferences as of today (look forward to participating in more in the future). The agenda for today included two keynote speakers and an exciting case competition.

Our first speaker was Salim Naran, CEO of SAVVY. He introduced to us the concept of FinTech and the fact that Canadian banks have not changed in over 20 years. The Canadian banking industry is hesitant to integrate FinTech into their system as it is an oligopoly. Therefore, there is little incentive to change their operations as competition is limited. This is problematic as Canadian banks are largely paper-based, which leads to poor user interface and user experience. The major takeaway from his presentation is that companies will find success by striving to improve the consumer experience.

Instead of using the typical slideshow, he presented via Mentimeter which made his presentation very engaging. The Mentimeter included polls throughout the presentation to check for understanding. All in all, I really enjoyed his presentation as it gave me new insight into the FinTech industry and our ever-changing world with Industry 4.0.

Our second speaker was Razor Suelman, CEO of Elevate. His story really resonated because I can relate to him. For his presentation, he decided to go with the format of telling 3 different stories. From those 3 stories, I retained 3 major lessons that I would like to share with you guys. The first lesson is to find something you are passionate about, make sure you can see yourself doing something even if the money isn't there. The second lesson was to create a product that is "better, faster, cheaper" as that is the ultimate principal that will draw in customers. For example, he saw that students loved wearing university merch, however, they were ridiculously expensive. He founded a company that printed school merch that were "better, faster, cheaper" and it was a sensation at his university, Laurier. The last lesson was "dilution is NOT the solution". That is to say that you want to retain as much equity of your own company as possible. This is because you want to have the most authority of your own company. In the instance of Steve Jobs, he actually got fired from his own company. Additionally, if you were to sell your company, you want the majority of the buyout to go towards you, your family, angel investors (people you care about) rather than a billionaire venture capitalist.

This is my group, many of them I have never met prior to participating in Illuminate. However, after two conferences with them, I can confidently say that we grown very close to one another. Although we did not come Top 3, it is evident that we have come a long way as a team. We all agreed that we improved drastically being our second case competition together which at the end of the day is the most important takeaway. We did our presentation about an RPA software that automates the process of converting invoices into databases and spreadsheets.

In conclusion, I'd like to tank Illuminate x Midtown for hosting such an amazing event as it gave me the opportunity to practice my public speaking and collaboration skills. It also opened my eyes to Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things which I would have never paid attention to otherwise.


bottom of page