3 Questions with Dr. Sean Wise of Ryerson Futures Seed Fund

Sean Wise

FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Sean Wise of Ryerson Futures Seed Fund, a seed stage accelerator located in Toronto, Canada & author of “Startup Opportunities: know when to quit your day job”.


NAME:  Dr. Sean Wise
TITLE: 
Professor, General Partner, Author
COMPANY: 
Ryerson University, Ryerson Futures Seed Fund, & Author of “Startup Opportunities: know when to quit your day job”
WEB ADDRESS:  
www.Ryerson.ca, www.RyersonFutures.ca , www.startup-opportunities.com

What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?

Ryerson Futures is a seed stage accelerator located in Toronto, Canada. Located on the campus of Ryerson University.   Ryerson Futures has made a number of fintech investments and will likely continue to do so.  I work with seed stage startups funded by Ryerson Futures to help them evolve towards product/market fit and a Series A financing round.

What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?

I believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be the wide integration of AI/Machine Learning into customer service chat-bots.  The majority of customer service queries are mundane and routine (e.g. I lost my PIN what do I do).

This is just an awful job for humans and outsourcing to developing nations has not solved it.  Chatbots offer an exponentially better more scalable solution to better customer service.   The volume of queries, the routineness of such and the current level of semantic analysis make this the next big thing in fintech to me. That’s where start-ups like Ada Support can step in and help. For full disclosure, my seed fund, Ryerson Futures, is an investor in Ada Support. Support costs can be significantly reduced and customer retention can increase through such these AI solutions.
What are the biggest problems facing the fintech industry in the future?

Fintech is ripe for creative destruction.  The process by which new entrants (e.g. startups) attempt to displace incumbents (e.g. banks) and appropriate market share is quick.  But the incumbents won’t go quietly.  And since most countries regulate financial transactions, you are going to see a much bigger fight in Fintech than when Netflix killed Blockbuster, when Uber killed the taxi companies, or when Amazon killed the corner bookstore.

I think adoption in fintech will largely be customer driven, with institutional players clinging on through entrenchment, regulations and fear. Remember many of these institutions are the cornerstones of the world economy.  The transition will not be without metaphorical bloodshed.

If you were to personally invest in just one fintech firm (other than yours), which one would it be and why?

I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks with Liron Rose at Barclays’ Fintech Accelerator in Tel Aviv (aka Startup Tel Aviv) and was so impressed with that cohort I would look there.  Startups like:  Feezback, Kard, Ownerhood and my favorite Leo.   What I liked about each of these was their management:  Aggressive. Brilliant, Brave and Coachable. One could easily back the Founders of these startups.


Dr. Sean Wise is an expert on startups and venture capital, and one of North America’s leading mentors with an unmistakable passion for business. He uses his expertise in his various roles as university professor, best-selling author, international business speaker, and partner at Ryerson Futures, a seed-stage venture capital fund and technology accelerator.