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Meet Our FITC Toronto Contest Winners! #FITCTO #VVFITC

We had two tickets to give away to the exciting FITC conference in Toronto taking place from April 21st-April 23rd, so, we took to Twitter and asked:

“Want to attend #FITCTO? What impact do you want to make?”

In the blink of an eye, intelligent, well thought out, and articulate responses came pouring in and we soon chose two winners from the impressive bunch.

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We’re pleased to introduce our contest winners, Lily Tse and Mukul Seth, in these exclusive interviews!

Lily Tse@tigerlilytse

Lily Tse

Lily is the Founder/CEO of Happy Monday and Think Dirty, an unbiased product-comparison app that educates consumers about the potential toxic ingredients in their cosmetics and empowers them to make healthy and safe choices. She is passionate about design, technology and activism. She considers herself lucky to be able to work on projects that combine all her interests.

VV: We found your response to our contest question unlike many of the others we received. Can you please elaborate on your winning entry?

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“We [Think Dirty] are hoping to bring back transparency for consumers through tech and design”

LT: I find that when it comes to cosmetics, the government doesn’t do a very good job in terms of labelling and regulations. It’s very hard for consumers to find out what is actually in their products. You can see more and more people getting cancer and allergies and there’s no way to navigate the space properly. I have the same problem – there are some products my skin doesn’t like, but I don’t know what chemicals [are causing my skin to become irritated].

Think Dirty is basically a tool I designed for myself. Coming from [an interactive] design background, I want to see how I can use what I’ve learned in the past 12 years. I want to use the strategies that helped big companies sell their products in the past to  promote a cause I actually believe in, which is consumer advocacy. The Think Dirty app makes [cosmetics] labelling more transparent, so that people actually understand what the chemicals are and what they can do to their bodies. The app will help them make the right choice for their health and the environment.

Who or what inspired you to enter the tech industry?

I find technology brings information, and information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you can stay on top, [of technology] you can do anything. I find that with the internet, you have full access to knowledge. You know everything, you know whether people are telling the truth or not. I think, slowly, over time, I realized technology is a powerful thing and it’s good to stay on top of it and be working in it.

In your opinion, what skills are needed to succeed in the tech industry?

Curiosity and an appetite for change. Technology is something that changes every day, so if you want to be in the industry, you have to be someone who always wants to learn new things. You cannot be afraid of change, because there’s a change every day. You have to be adaptable and always asking questions, kind of like a scientist.

How do design and tech complement one another?

You see that the most successful technology companies right now, Apple being one of the most talked about, making themselves different through design. Google is now coming out with Glass, and you look at the packaging, and it seems they’re trying to mimic what Apple is doing. I think technology must be useful but how do you connect people to it on an emotional level? That’s where design comes in. People don’t just want something that works. Microsoft works, but the font is terrible looking. Look at Apple, it works and is beautiful.

As an entrepreneur, what resources do you want/need more of?

The big one is funding. You need funding to hire people, to do a bunch of other things. Also, incubator programs that are ideally run by former entrepreneurs

What is your attitude toward failure?

Of course, you worry about failing, but I think if you look at failure as a lesson, you always learn something from it. It’s not definitive. If you look at failure as a learning experience, you’re going to keep going.  Sara Blakely, Spanx’s Founder and the youngest ever self-made female billionaire said “Failure is not trying.” I think that’s a great quote to sum up how we should look at failure.

You can let experience destroy or define you, or you let it strengthen you. School needs to teach and inspire students to think differently about success and failure. Is success just getting promoted at a big company? That’s just one definition – what are the other definitions?

Mukul Seth @m_seth

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Mukul works for Digiflare, a digital agency at the forefront of creating connected user experiences. Mukul is passionate about graphic design, photography, and music.

VV: Can you please elaborate on your winning contest entry?

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“[I want to] Teach important skills such as Web/Mobile Design and Development to low-income populations”

MS: I would like to go abroad to countries that don’t have the money or equipment to participate in web and mobile design and development. I want to make them excited about technology. I also want to use my 7 years of industry experience, in addition to my school and co-op experience to teach development. I want people to realize that anyone can create a website, if they have right tools. I know that locally, in Toronto, many communities can benefit from self learning programs that will help them understand and apply code.

Who or what inspired you to enter the industry?

My Grade 11 Computer Engineering teacher was a big part of the reason I decided to go into computer engineering. Also, I’ve always been interested in the concept of creating something out of nothing and using these creations to solve real world problems.

In your opinion, what skills are needed to succeed in the tech industry?

A lot of creativity is involved in the technology industry. You have to be analytical and a high level problem solver. Also, you need a passion for the unexplored because technology is ever-changing and you need to be innovative to keep that every changing spirit alive.

What advice do you have for those looking to enter the industry or hone their skills?

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, if you are driven, and keep your passion alive, you will succeed. Also, it’s a good idea to learn coding. You can take online courses to learn the basic of programming and share your ideas with your friends to get support and constructive criticism.

What is your attitude toward failure?

I would say failure is never anything to be feared. When people avoid failure, it prevents them from getting better. It’s important to embrace failure and learn from it. I would say “Keep going at it hard and you will succeed eventually”.

Thank you to speaking with us, Lily and Mukul, and we hope you enjoyed your time at FITC!

We’d also like to thank all of our contest participants for providing us with such thought provoking responses.

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