When you’re in the initial stages of building your tech startup, hiring a new person can pose as a risk. The ISI grant program is helping to offset this risk by supporting BC tech companies that hire a BC student.

With the help of the ISI Grant Program, Vancouver based tech company FI.SPAN gained a new employee. Interview with Claudia Mathieu, Compliance Officer, FI.SPAN, and Business Analyst student Suyash Raj Bhandari.

Tell me about FI.SPAN.

Claudia: FI.SPAN is a cloud-based Application Program Interface (API) services management platform, that helps banks use APIs to connect to customers and FinTech’s. FI.SPAN platform takes care of integrations with bank services and provides a simple client experience via API’s and Native Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) adapters.

What did you study and what was your work experience prior to joining FI.SPAN?

Suyash: I studied Applied Software Development and Agile Business Analysis at BCIT. Before working at FI.SPAN, I completed a 6 week internship at a software company, iQmetrix. The research and business skills I gained at iQmetrix helped me transition into my role as a Business Analyst at FI.SPAN.

What does a typical day look like for you at FI. SPAN?

Suyash: The best part of working at FI.SPAN is that no two days are the same. I am constantly being challenged with time sensitive tasks. Some days I deliver product demos to potential bank clients. Other days I complete due diligence forms, conduct research or meet with the development team to iron out our future ERP strategy.

The social aspects of working at FI.SPAN was one of the reasons I knew I wanted to stay with the company past my ISI work term. At FI.SPAN, we go on daily coffee runs with the entire team. By catching up with my colleagues across all departments of the company, I am able to gain a better understanding of the business. Every Wednesday the whole company gets together for lunch. Whether you’re a student intern or the CEO, everyone takes a turn ordering and setting up the food. It was great to see that regardless of people’s roles and titles, everyone always pitches in to help.

Any success stories?

Claudia: We hired Suyashas a full-time employee once his ISI internship ended.

Suyash: There are not many companies where a student can be involved in a project from start to finish. Throughout my time at FI.SPAN, I managed to play an integral role in many projects. For example, I carried out in depth research into the ERP market and made a strategic recommendation based on my findings. The company took on my advice and we are now signing a contract with a major bank.

Why did you decide to apply for an ISI Grant?

Claudia: Since FI.SPAN began its operations in 2016, we have utilized grants to expand our services and help build our internship program. When we heard about the ISI Grant Program, we knew it would allow us to hire more students who would bring new insights to the company.

How did you find the ISI Grant Program Application process?

Claudia: The ISI grant application process is easy and straightforward. If I had any questions about the grant application, they were answered very quickly and in great detail by the New Ventures BC team.

Where did search to find your student?

Claudia: Suyash, was eager to gain experience at a startup. Suyash reached out to the recruiting team on LinkedIn. After reviewing his resume and experience, we found that he would be an ideal candidate for the role. It was a match made in heaven!

What was the best thing about working at a tech startup?

Suyash: The best thing about working for a tech startup is having the chance to work alongside the developers. In most other firms, the business and IT departments rarely interact. However, in a startup environment this is not the case. By working with the developers, I was able to learn skills I didn’t think I would gain in a Business Analyst role.

What would you say to student’s who want to work at a tech startup?

Suyash: Your current skill set is not as important as your mentality and work ethic. The biggest piece of advice I could give is – not to be afraid to say, “I don’t understand”. It’s unlikely that you will understand everything at the beginning of a work term. However, your willingness to learn and ask for support is by far the most important thing. Even after being at FI.SPAN for nine months, I still find myself having to actively set up meetings with my colleagues in different departments to get to the bottom of really difficult tasks. At FI.SPAN everyone is willing to assist, I’ve just learned not to be afraid to ask for help.

Why would you recommend the ISI Grant Program?

Claudia: The ISI Grant Program is unique. It helps startups expand their reach in the market by having more hands-on deck. While student’s have the opportunity to learn from professionals in a fast pace startup culture where they gain new skills and industry experience.

Suyash: Most grant programs tend to focus on full-time students enrolled in the formal co-op program. These programs overlook the many part-time students who want to gain industry experience while studying. The Market Validation Training I completed as part of the grant, piqued my interest in entrepreneurship.

Applications open

Interested in applying to the ISI grant program? Applications are open. Your BC-based tech company or startup could receive up to $10,000 a year to hire a post-secondary student.

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