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Zooming into the Future of Entrepreneurship

Hello everyone! Nice to meet you all. My name is Sloane Kotler, and I am a grade 10 student who is currently attending Havergal College in Toronto. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x MidtownTO’s regional conference. Through a friend of mine, I heard about this illuminate conference, and I was intrigued. Although I don’t see myself with a business/technology future, I am amazed by this topic. I know that it's important for my generation to get our feet wet in the future of technology.


I enjoyed listening to Salim Naran, who was the first guest speaker. Although I am not well versed in the technological world, there is 1 large lesson that I got out of his talk.


It's okay to fail.



I learned that Salim was fired from not one, but two companies, with one of them being Paradigm. His story teaches the value of resilience, and flexibility, two qualities that are super vital to becoming a successful person.


In the next part of the conference, I learned about the power of quick strategizing, teamwork and efficiency through our assigned case study. The task was to create a technical solution to a problem, so my group created a platform that we think all teenage students can benefit from. Our result was called “Finance Friend”, a platform where students can easily manage their own finances, and learn about beneficial scholarships and bursaries all in one place. Teenage students often aren’t made aware of all the financial aid opportunities available to us to put towards higher education. The “Finance Friend” ensures independence, efficiency and ease for all product users. Through this case study, my group learned how to come up with an idea pitch in under 60 minutes, which isn’t a lot of time. If we had more time we would have liked to expand our business model. My group was fortunate to qualify in the top three, which is something we are very proud of given the time restraints.


I thought that Razor Suleman, the second guest speaker, was very inspirational. In his teenage years, he learned the value of niches (how to catch people's attention) through his baseball trading and uniform merchandise selling companies. Overall, I view Razor’s story as a successful one because he was able to find niches that are better, faster and cheaper, all things people want! Lastly, his passion for entrepreneurship is so inspiring.


Overall, I enjoyed that this conference not only focused on success stories, but it focused on failures as well. One key takeaway is that passion is the most important, even if it requires sacrifice. I think this is great advice because without passion, what are you doing it for. I think the speaker’s stories were inspiring ones because they had their high moments, and they had their low ones. Even the case study was a mix of mini successes and failures, but as a group, we all learned from it!


I want to say a huge thank you to Alina, Razor and Salim for sharing your stories and experiences today. Additionally, thank you to the regional heads for putting this conference together. It was a great way to learn about entrepreneurship engagingly online.