Celebrating and empowering women in fintech is something Finovate supports throughout the year, not just during Womens’ History Month and on International Womens’ Day – earlier this week, on March 8. And you may have already seen our next guest contributor, Janice Diner, CEO, Founder of Horizn, across other parts of the Finovate ecosystem. Be it on the Finovate Podcast to talk educating customers and turning employees into digital advocates, or at the physical (or digital!) Finovate events following Horizn’s latest demo. Today, Diner shares her journey through fintech as part of our #womeninfintech series.
What barriers did you face, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field and how did you overcome them?
Janice Diner: I think of my career in two phases, before I was the CEO and founder of Horizn I was a successful Creative Director. I had no concept of the “glass ceiling”, I was part of the 3% of successful women in advertising.
When I got into tech and started Horizn, all that changed. Back in 2013 issues that presented barriers to female entrepreneurs weren’t as loudly discussed. I remember feeling it in the room, when you are or have been successful, you know what a winning room smells like.
I often talk about being bootstrapped and proud. The hidden story behind that statement reflects my early experiences at fundraising in 2013. Remember, I had a full-blown creative director ego and had no concept of ‘ceilings’. But I ran into the “female” problem of fundraising at the time and smashed right into that ceiling.
At the time it seemed like a monumental problem, but we turned it into an opportunity and we walked in another direction. I think it has to do with how we look at money, I look at money as fuel — it’s all equal to me. At the end of the day, money is capital to build and run my business, that’s true no matter where that money comes from, whether it is venture capital, client revenue or debt financing.
And what about now, in 2021?
Diner: I am now in my 10th year of running the business. We are an award winning fintech helping many of the world’s largest banks. There is no doubt the future of banking will rely on digital platforms and the widespread adoption of new technologies. With that certainty in mind, Horizn equips both bank customers and employees with the knowledge needed to accelerate digital banking knowledge, fluency and adoption.
We won two Best of Show Finovate awards in 2020 and have multiple client awards. I am most proud when our clients speak for us about their success with Horizn, in articles, in fireside chats, webinars and on stage.
What was your first experience at Finovate like as a female CEO?
Diner: I remember my first Finovate event back in 2015, I was one of a few female CEOs on stage, nothing new for me. But this time was different. Women came up to me afterwards just to thank me for representing. They were just happy to see a female tech CEO on stage.
At Horizn we are very grateful to benefit from the diversity Toronto has to offer; together at Horizn we speak 20 languages and come from 15 countries. The team is made up of 44% women, impressive for a tech company.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Diner: When asked the question what advice would you give women, I think my advice is to entrepreneurs in general. Do what you love and be good at it, the rest will come. The five ways I have built the business are…
- Build product in real time with your customers
- Love your customers and make them love you
- Visit/speak to your customers and go to industry events (or virtual – COVID)
- Hire the best — people are everything when you are building a great company
- Remember you are not in the start-up business. You are in a business.
In summary however I found regardless of what barriers I may have had or which doors have not necessarily open as I would have expected, it is always important to look at them from an opportunity perspective. Success is pretty much how you choose to define it.