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Innovation and Passion: the Secrets to a Successful Business.

Hi everyone! My name is John and I am a Grade 10 student at Upper Canada College. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x MidtownTO’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned from the impactful speeches of Sal and Razor.


I extremely enjoyed Sal’s presentation, which allowed me to get a better understanding of FinTech, a word which I heard frequently in the past. Now, I can fully understand what applications FinTech has and carry a conversation with peers. In addition, this has opened up many opportunities for me to investigate (and potentially invest in) applications to FinTech in our “4th industrial revolution.”

This webinar also opened my eyes to the political and societal implications of FinTech and the current situation in Canada. Sal spoke about how in Canada, banking has not changed in the last 75 years and it is still a manual process (you have to physically go to the bank and the processes are not automated), they are expensive and they are very reliant on paper. In addition, Canadian banks are not innovating despite consumer demands around the world due to:

High regulations from the government hindering innovation;

The fact that there are only 5 banks making it an Oligopoly and;

Canadian consumers are not pushing banks to innovate.


Some of the reasons why banks are becoming obsolete and inefficient are:

Banks are not up-front with consumers and there is a lot of clouding with restrictions, waiting times and different rules for consumers to, for example, get a loan. This is an opaque customer journey;

Banks have poor user interfaces and experiences including their apps, the tools that are used by employees (old software and hardware);

Banks are not ready for machine learning and AI due to the confusing input of data in their databases;

They are not technology companies, only financial services companies. Fintech companies must help banks move into the future.


Sal also taught me why FinTech is becoming so prevalent in our society, most prominently in America. This is because, in America, there are many banks and services, so consumers can pick and choose the best companies to use. Hence, banks and FinTech are directed and motivated by consumers. In Europe, the government is beginning to push FinTech in an open market setting. In developing countries, there was no previous network of banks that need improving or adapting, so FinTech and banking are generally more available to consumers as there are fewer restrictions (eg. less emphasis on Credit Score to take out a loan). In addition, Financial services were originally analogue, but now there is some digitization, giving banks a mix of both analogue and digital systems (eg. apps). Digital systems are much more efficient and more preferable to consumers.


Finally, I summarized the advice that Sal provided near the end of his presentation. This advice will be critical to my pursuits:

Think big;

Work hard, there is no excuse;

Listen and learn, apply gained knowledge;

Be passionate about what you are doing;

Get the right people by your side - diversity of thought and;

Luck - set yourself up to be lucky by working hard.


Razor’s presentation taught me a great many things, make mistakes early, start with a passion, find an area with unmet customer demand, build a business that does things better, faster and cheaper than the competition, ensure that you do not dilute your company with venture capitalists because, in the end, they are just taking away your equity built from your own hard work. The most pertinent lesson for me was connection. Connections and relationships are crucial to building a business and allow you to reach a large audience of consumers. In addition, Razor spoke greatly about the importance of rewards for good work. This makes companies more efficient and increases the morale of the employees. You must always appeal to the consumers, which generally entails simplicity and straightforwardness for consumers (eg. the simplicity of Facebook compared to other software).


I was very lucky to have a wonderful group that worked hard to create a great presentation from an innovative idea. I have been actively looking at large companies for the last few months, particularly Invisalign. I read about their process of creating aligners and I noticed a large flaw: wastage of materials and time. Invisalign first has an Orthodontist scan the teeth of the patient using a relatively new technology, called iTero. This creates a virtual 3D model which Orthodontists send directly to Invisalign. From there, Invisalign creates a physical model and using a suction table to heat up plastic and form over the physical model. Then, they have to manually cut off the excess plastic and tailor the unique gumline of the patient. Our solution was simple: just 3D print the aligners directly, reducing wastage and eliminating the need for a person to tediously tailor the gumlines. This also will reduce the necessary time for Invisalign to make the aligner and send it to the patient, which normally takes around 3 weeks.


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