Technology Is The Fastest Way To Get Rich For Young People

Technology has been tipped as the best way for young people to be able to quickly earn a high income and accumulate riches and wealth. Forbes talks with a 28 year old engineering entrepreneur who has already founded three companies and gives her advice for how women and future generations can emulate her successes. 

Technology Is The Fastest Way For 20 Year Olds To Get Rich

Michele Romanow is an engineer and a serial entrepreneur who started three companies before her 28th birthday. She launched her first business venture — The Tea Room, a zero-consumer-waste coffee shop — while studying engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Her current e-commerce platforms, Buytopia andSnapSaves, have saved 2 million users over $100 million by finding incredible deals for products, services, events and travel with merchants including brands like Cirque du Soleil, Porter Airlines and Staples.

Interview with Michele Romanow

What do you think is one of the most important things in the world that “needs to be fixed?”

There needs to be more entrepreneurs. Period.

Entrepreneurs are disruptors – they are constantly finding efficient ways to deliver value by solving important problems. The entrepreneurial process brings the world forward by creating employment and adding to the GDP. Entrepreneurship is a great equalizer  the market doesn’t care about gender if you have a great idea.

Two years ago, I left my job as Director of Strategy at Sears Canada and invested $15,000 with my partners Anatoliy Melnichuk and Ryan Marien. We built one of the largest Canadian e-commerce companies in two years. If I can do it so can you.

Not only do we need more entrepreneurs, we need more women to take the stage. Less than 2% of venture funding goes to female entrepreneurs, yet women control 80% of consumer purchasing power. I completely agree with the Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth 2012 Report declaring female entrepreneurs are “an untapped source of economic opportunity.”

The report calls for better education, training and policy to support female entrepreneurs because: “A 20 per-cent increase in total revenues among majority female owned enterprises will contribute an additional $20 billion per annum to the economy.”

So how do we get there? For starters, females need to start rethinking their field of study, and Engineering and Technology should be front and center because STEM can provide better odds at being a successful entrepreneur. The rationale is as follows: If I had to guess one thing and one thing only that would have the greatest effect on the way business will take place in the near future, it’s technology. Technology in the form of the internet is disrupting retail. Technology in the form of smartphones is disrupting telecom. And technology in the form of DNA mapping is disrupting healthcare.

Artists are now able to showcase their work on internet platforms like 500px versus expensive galleries in New York City leading to a democratization of art. Similarly a local bakery, such as a small cupcake store on Main Street, is able to leverage Twitter and Facebook to get access to free and rapid marketing neutralizing the monetary advantage that big bakery chains have. Whatever the occupational vertical might be, an understanding of technology will be critical to thrive in tomorrow’s e-commerce world. As a result, engineering and technology should be front and center to be a successful entrepreneur.

What will it look like when it’s fixed?

 Women will consider education in technology at the same rate as men. Women will start companies, take calculated risks, try ideas, pivot, overcome fear of failure and try again. Investors will look to invest in startups led by women.

What are you doing to help fix it?

I lead by example. I start companies and incubate great tech ideas.

We find great youth and mentor them. Buytopia takes interns right out of college and challenges them with outstanding opportunities. One year after starting, one of our most talented interns now manages a team of five full-time developers and is a key shareholder in one of our startups. No big company would have given a young person that sort of opportunity. Entrepreneurship is all about performance.

We incubate ideas we believe in. Two of our companies, Cleverfox and SnapSaves, were incubator projects. They are now well on their way to becoming great companies in their own right.

I lead not-for-profits, like Shad Valley where I’m on the board of directors. The program mission aims to unleash the potential of youth and inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.

What can others do to help fix it?

Students: Start looking into technology earlier in life. Try building a viable product or solving a real market problem in school. If it works, take a risk and start a company! This is the time to take risks.

Young working women: Consider working in the worlds of tech and entrepreneurship. If I can do it so can you.

Parents: Encourage your daughters to pursue education in math and engineering. My education in math has made my career possible. Make success through entrepreneurship an option for your children, no matter their gender.

Denise Restauri is a contributor who aims to empower women and give them a voice in the digital world. More of her work can be found here