Mike Katchen, HBA ’09, Co-founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, is passionate about making investing easy. He is equally as passionate about supporting Canadian entrepreneurs. Katchen visited Ivey Business School on Monday, January 15, to share his learnings and advice with Western and HBA students on how to find success in business here in Canada. The event was hosted by the Ivey Tech Club.
Wealthsimple first began in September 2014, when it was nothing more than a spreadsheet and idea. Today, the company manages over $2 billion for 50,000 people in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. Katchen said this kind of success is possible for Canadians, and here’s how:
Start with a problem
“The best way to start a business is to start with a problem,” says Katchen. “Start with a real problem that you have yourself. For me, that was the difficulty of investing.”
Katchen created a spreadsheet to simplify investing. He shared the spreadsheet with friends so they could do the same.
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Iterate and learn
He discovered the real problem was that people didn’t want to do the work. “I thought the spreadsheet would be easy enough, but it wasn’t easy enough for my friends,” said Katchen. “I decided to iterate on the problem to see if there was a way to solve it.”
“Validate your ideas. Test them out in the simplest way possible. I made a spreadsheet,” said Katchen.
Wealthsimple went through many different iterations to get to where it is today. Katchen explained that each step in the process was important and came with many valuable learnings. In less than a year, the business went from spreadsheet to winning the best financial services website in the world at the Webby Awards.
With a hugely successful and growing company under his belt, Katchen’s latest mission is to inspire Canadian entrepreneurs to dream bigger with “naïve ambition." He challenges Canadians to build bigger, globally competitive businesses, because “what’s the worst that could happen?”