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Illuminate x Midtown TO - A Life Changing Experience

Hi everyone! I am Padma and I am in grade 9 at Unionville High School. This past weekend I had the life changing opportunity to attend Illuminate x Midtown TO’s conference on the future of tech start-ups! This was my first ever Illuminate Conference and I am so happy that I found this wonderful opportunity. Throughout the conference, I learned various key points to successes in start-ups from experts Sal Naran and Razor Suleman.

Our first keynote speaker, Sal Naran, CEO of Savvy, gave us a wonderful and interactive presentation on FinTech, short for Financial Technology. In the beginning of his presentation, he shared with us his journey to where he is right now. He explained to us the different aspects of FinTech and its role in the 4th industrial revolution. Sal also explained to us the various problems in the current Canadian banking system and the oligopoly present in the industry. He also informed us about the poor User Interface and User Experience that the current Canadian Banking system contains. At the end of Sal’s presentation, he mentioned how in order to challenge these oligopolies, we as consumers should demand more and should not be loyal to just one brand. Sal concluded his presentation with some great advice on start-ups.

The case study competition was a one-of-a-kind experience. My team and I had one hour to come up with a solution to the case study and present it to the judges. I had an amazing time with my team, and it was wonderful to share my ideas with them. I was extremely impressed by the finalists who all came up with brilliant solutions.

Razor Suleman, the co-founder and CEO of Elevate, was our second speaker. Razor shared with us three significant stories that each presented a key aspect and lesson. He shared with us the story of his first ever business at Wilfred Laurier where he started campus clothing line called Razor’s Edge. He said that he turned his passion to a successful business. Razor also shared with us the story of two CEOs who each sold their companies within the same amount of time, yet one of them profited more even though his company was sold for a lesser value than the other company. He told us that it is important to not give away our company’s equity and to keep it to our angel investors, our employees and us. “Dilution is not the solution”, said Razor. He also shared that if you do not have the passion for your business then it will not succeed. Do not do your business for money otherwise the number of setbacks in your business journey will leave you completely discouraged.

Overall, this conference gave me a lot of lessons which will all be helpful to me in the future. It was my first time attending anything like this and I cannot wait for the next conference!

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