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Jul 4, 2022

A Recap of IFH Lab's Kickoff Event in Toronto

A Recap of IFH Lab's Kickoff Event in Toronto
Annalisa Gertz

Last month, The Billi Management Team attended Fintech Cadence’s newest cohort of the IFH Lab – a six-month elite program for eight selected Canadian startups, which are building a more inclusive and relatable financial system. After a competitive interview process, Billi was honoured to be selected to participate.

Over the course of the three-day event, we covered a range of topics, from refining our pitch, clarifying the language around our value proposition, and identifying areas to improve our UI/UX. Above all, however, it was an opportunity to bond as a team, and we took full advantage of it. For some of us, it was the first time meeting in person, as the pandemic kept us at home behind our computer screens. This was a revelation, and the IFH Lab provided the perfect environment to inspire deeper conversations about how Billi can be a tool that helps all Canadians manage their finances.

Here are a few highlights from our time in the Six.

Kensington Market & Nathan Phillips Square

Our co-founder Dan Barton and I flew in a day early so we could play tourists for a day. We ate vegan goodies at Kensington Market, strolled around Trinity Bellwoods Park, and visited Kotn, a clothing store on Queen Street that makes all our Billi swag – Billi merch anyone?

Pitching Billi & highlighting our value proposition

On day one, we jumped right into our origin story, where we were asked to explain what inspired us to start Billi and what motivates us to keep going. As a company which, from day one, has been building Billi in public, we understand the value and power in a good story. Our CEO, Ty Sinclair, spoke about his upbringing and how his mother struggled financially to stay on top of bills. Ty would see the bills piling up on the kitchen table every month and felt powerless to help his family escape the debt-cycle. He wanted to make sure that when he was older, he had the tools and resources he needed to manage his finances, so that he could help his parents and eventually, start a family of his own.  

This is what motivates us every day at Billi – equipping all Canadians with the necessary tools to make smart financial decisions so they can live happy and fulfilling lives.

User testing with the other founders

Day two started with a great lecture from Anne-Marie Mulumba, a Design Thinking Facilitator at Concordia University and an expert on UX strategy for social impact. She encouraged us to think about the cultural importance of UI/UX decisions and the different lenses users experience their world through.

This led into my favorite activity of the week – user testing. David, our Head of Development, and I, sat down with several founders from the other startups, and walked them through the Billi journey. We came up with a list of tasks and questions that each tester had to perform while navigating our app. Could they find where their investments lived? Was the ‘Search & Filter’ function intuitive? Did the display of information feel useful?  

The feedback was clear, consistent and concise. Many of the suggestions and pain points that were highlighted in the user testing have already been addressed and fixed in the current version of the app – better navigation, clearer language, and simpler display of information.  

We are building Billi for you, so we promise to always listen to our community and release versions of the app that have features you want to see.  

Dan delivering a knockout elevator pitch

The second day finished with a cocktail party, where we mingled with industry experts, investors, and the other startups. Each startup had to present their elevator pitch to the entire room of guests. Of course, lucky us, the startups went in alphabetical order, meaning Dan was up first. He shook off his nerves and delivered a knockout pitch on what we’re hoping to achieve with Billi. He received a standing ovation, (from the Billi team), and the rest of the night was spent making new connections and adding new friends on LinkedIn.  

The Billi Team

Before heading back to the airport and flying home to BC on day three, we had the privilege of listening to a lecture from Jerry Koh, a leader in systems thinking at New Power Labs. Jerry helped us identify the problem we’re trying to solve with Billi and how we can ensure we are actually making a difference in the lives of Canadians and building a solution to a problem that really exists. It inspired a perspective shift for me and my team members, as we huddled up and delved deep into our ‘Why’.  

One thing we all agreed on is that we want Billi to be accessible to all Canadians – from workers in all industries, to students and immigrants, and everyone in between. We want to harness the power of open finance and transform abstract numbers into meaningful, digestible information — all in one beautifully designed space.

The eight startups

We are so excited to be part of such an incredible program, full of ambitious entrepreneurs that are looking to disrupt the fintech space and offer products that meet the needs of all Canadians.  

Over the next six months, we’ll be taking part in more workshops, founder chats and a final in-person wrap up event in Toronto in November. We can’t wait to see what other truths reveal themselves as we embark on this journey with IFH Labs and the other seven startups.  

We’ll be sure to share everything with our community because we’re on this ride together.  


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