Tell us about your startup and what inspired you to start it.
I’ve spent my entire career working in the area of financial inclusion, leveraging technology to bring people into the financial sector, sometimes for the first time. I’ve worked in the slums of India, small villages in Africa, and the crowded markets of South East Asia, to design and scale financial services that have reached millions, and led to major improvements in their financial health.
I started Bounc3 after returning to Canada, and realizing that I myself fell into the financially excluded segment. I was self-employed at the time, and had incredible difficulty finding comprehensive insurance coverage, on my budget. One carrier had even rejected me because I was self-employed. I wanted to take everything I’ve learned over the last decade, and apply my knowledge and passion for financial inclusion, and innovate in my own backyard.
So we built Bounc3, an online insurance brokerage that matches self-employed Canadians , and small business owners, with affordable, and relevant, life insurance and benefits. We started the company after seeing that over 95% of self-employed Canadians are under-insured, with a vast majority having no coverage at all
What energizes you to pursue your startup even when things aren’t going as planned?
The small wins energize me, such as a client saying that they love what we’ve built or seeing a slow and steady increase in our traction. The wins don’t come very often, but when they do, they must be recognized, and celebrated.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own startup? Why?
To start running marathons because building a company IS a marathon. Before you see any ounce of success, you have a very long runway. You need to constantly find ways to stabilize your emotions, and thoughts, and have faith that eventually you will get closer to the finish line.
What life or work experiences helped prepare you to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
My passion. I’ve never been the smartest person in the room, but for causes that I find meaningful, I’ve always had the greatest amount of passion. A former manager used to always tell me that I had “fire in the belly”, and that fire pushed me to set huge goals, and work tirelessly to meet them.
What is the best career advice you’ve received?
It came from my Father who came to Canada as an immigrant. He was a qualified engineer but spent the first 5 years delivering pizzas and working in factories. His advice to me was never to work for anyone, and to work effortlessly to turn my passion project into a thriving business.
What book(s) or movie(s) do you highly recommend? Why?
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes, Founder of Theranos. It portrays to me everything that is wrong with the start-up space, in Silicon Valley and beyond. We are conditioned, and even sometimes encouraged, to inflate our success, and not be completely honest about the real challenges our businesses face.
I envision us one day having pitch competitions where we speak openly about all of the sh*t we are shoveling and all of the unfortunate, and costly mistakes that we’ve made. It would be like a AA meeting, but for founders who want to expose their bruises to investors, and truly show that they’ve learned from their biggest mistakes, and will only be better, and bolder, as a result.
What brings you joy?
Finding balance in my life brings me joy but it’s incredibly hard to find such balance when you are a Founder of an early stage start-up. But if you don’t strive for balance, even if just a semblance in the beginning, then it is very easy to feel incredibly burnt out, which can lead to greater mental health challenges.
So I’m trying to make balance a daily practice. I book an hour in the morning, to play squash with a good friend, or an hour at lunch to walk in the forest with my dog, or force myself to finish work at a decent hour and cook a wonderful meal with my daughter.
Balance acts as a buffer every time you get rejected, have a staff member quit, or fail to meet a sales target. It allows you to be grateful for the small gifts of life, even when sh*t is hitting the fan at work. 🙂
What is one thing you’ve learned so far or taken away since joining IFH Lab?
To ask for help when you need it, especially from fellow founders. Most founders understand the hustle, and will truly make the time and effort to help, acting as your therapist, financial advisor, go-to market strategizer, when needed. Having a close network makes you feel less alone in your struggle, and gives you some clear direction on what to do next in the earliest stages of growing your business.
Connect with Olga directly here.