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Illuminate x MidTown TO; an excellent experience

Hi everyone! My name is Finn Bartel and I am a Grade 8, and student at Upper Canada College. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x MidtownTO’s regional conference. As soon as I entered the Zoom call, I was greeted by some music, a pleasant start to my day. During the Opening Ceremony, we learned about the art of perseverance and that there is no harm in trying from the Principal of the program, Alina. She shared her story about how you can be successful no matter what school you go to, but it was more about drive and effort if you wanted to succeed. She explained how she now owns the six-figure business, Illuminate, the company that the conference took place on. Following the opening ceremony, we were able to hear from our first Keynote speaker, Sal, who discussed Fintech (financial technology), and what direction business was heading in. He put a big emphasis on subcategories such as Crypto Currencies, and AI/VR, as well as explained the fourth technological revolution.

After this presentation, we thanked him for such an informative presentation, and it was very interactive. To make sure we retained knowledge from this presentation, we completed a Kahoot, where the winner would receive a $25 gift card of their choice. This Kahoot challenged me, and I had trouble with it, but I was able to get some of the questions right!

After this presentation, it was time for lunch, with some tunes playing in the background. Instead of eating, I used this time to prepare for the case competition with my groupmates. When we returned, we were introduced to the case competition, and seeing as I was in Group 10 (we didn't get emailed the competition until 1:50), we were advised to work on our blog, but this wasn't possible, as Alina told us an informative story. After this story, it was our time to leave and get to work on the case competition. Our group spent the first 5 minutes reading the instructions and coming up with ideas. I suggested that we create a new platform for online classes to take place on, and everyone in the group seemed to agree it was a good idea, so we got to work. We divided up the work evenly and were able to help each other out for the next hour. Before we presented, we divided up who would do what slide, and did a quick run-through. We then presented to the judges where we, unfortunately, went overtime. We answered the questions that the judges had thoroughly, and returned to the main Zoom call, where we were again, greeted by Kalen's music!

This case competition was great because we worked on our collaboration, as well as refining our business minds! When we returned, it was time for the second Keynote speaker, Razor, where we learned more about the personal side of business. One of the main things I took away was that having a business you are passionate about is much easier to succeed in than one that you aren't. For example, when Razor was young, he would sell a variety of sports cards, and he was so passionate about this, he was able to make a profit. He then attended Wilfred Laurier, where he started his own clothing business, and taught us the motto, "better, faster cheaper" and that everyone would be inclined to buy from you if you can achieve these three things! One more valuable lesson I took away from Razor was to not "dilute" your business and do not sell yourself out to people such as venture capitalists, as you will slowly lose all of your hard-earned money, as you have less and less of a percentage of your company. Another concept learned during this keynote was about "Angel Investors" or those who want to see you succeed, and want to see you succeed when they invest in your business, unlike a venture capitalist, who simply wants the profit, and wouldn't care about you as a person.

To end off the day the finalists were announced, and each gave their presentation. The winning group came away with $500, but unfortunately, our team didn't make the podium. Awards were also given out in the form of $10 gift cards to those with the worst har, or messiest background. Overall, this day was packed with fun learning, and I cannot wait for the next Illuminate event!

*I didn't take screenshots during the day, as I was trying to give my full attention to all of the speakers, so my images are found off google, around the topics discussed.