← Techstars Blog
TDCanadaLogo_1

Banks — careful, steady, conservative. Tech startups — frenetic, disruptive, edgy.

Can two such seemingly different cultures get along? TD Bank Financial Group thinks so.

“TD is proud of its strong culture of innovation,” says Jeff Martin, senior vice-president and chief information officer, direct channels technology solutions “We are continually looking for opportunities to improve our products, services and ultimately our customer experience.”

TD knows a thing or two about building businesses and balancing risk and growth. It has worked with entrepreneurs for 160 years, which is why its involvement in Startup Weekend Nov. 14-16 in five Canadian cities — Vancouver, Quebec City, Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s — is such a great fit.

Held around the world, Startup Weekends bring together entrepreneurs for 54 hours of intense business development that concludes with a pitch to a panel of experienced executives. As part of its sponsorship, TD has a panelist in each of these five cities.

To kick off Startup Weekend, Jeff Martin talks about banking and startup cultures; and why Startup Weekend is such a fantastic opportunity for both.

 

Why is TD a Startup weekend sponsor?

TD has always encouraged innovation that will benefit banking and our customers. This forum is a great way to connect with the community and hear a lot of different ideas. We’re attracted to the high-energy/ high creativity environment – which is what Startup Weekend offers: a way to tap into that creativity to find ideas we may have not thought of using traditional methods.

 

What are some of the customer trends in banking that drive the interest in ideas at the startup level? 

The biggest trend is mobilization. Take mobile deposit as an example. We just launched this capability at TD, and have already seen over 115,000 cheques deposited this way in just two weeks.

 

Startup Weekends give you a front seat on some really smart ideas from some really smart people. What do you think startup entrepreneurs can learn from TD?

Historically, startups had to go through a very long on-boarding process. Now we can work with them, to help them understand the needs of a bank while they mature that product more quickly, so we can launch it when customers are ready.

I think the biggest thing the bank can offer is perspective. . . on what we think is important to bring to market, and the attributes of what they’re doing that we think are viable in our industry . . . They will definitely get value from working with a 160-year-old company that has gone through a lot of change, and is very stable and thoughtful about what it does.

 

What would you tell an entrepreneur about preparing for the Startup Weekend experience? 

They should rest-up, and come with ideas that are well-formed, with an action plan about how to escalate them quickly. Always think about what’s in it for the customer. How does this benefit people? If they are always thinking about the benefit to the end-user, it will help to create viable products. That customer may be the bank; but ultimately, it is the bank serving its customers.

There is so much technology advancement happening today, I wouldn’t put limits around what we want to achieve. People are always inventing new ways to make banking more comfortable. We’re not at the end of it, that’s for sure

Kolton Gagnon