Trends From Industry Leaders: A Survey of FinTech, EdTech, Digital Health, and PropTech

CAROLINE DINAPOLI
January 12, 2021

Over the past few months, Nex Cubed has had the pleasure of being joined by a world-class group of executives, entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders from the Financial Technology, Education Technology, Digital Health, and Property Technology sectors for our HBCU Founder’s Program Webinar Series. The Nex Cubed HBCU Founder’s Program was developed for students and recent alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) interested in pursuing entrepreneurship in the before mentioned sectors. The Webinar Series is a part of the “Learn” section of the program, aimed at providing additional information, trends, and insight into these fields from corporate and entrepreneurial leaders. 

After listening to the messages and testimonials shared by our esteemed panelists and entrepreneurial roundtable participants, a commonality that became abundantly clear is that COVID-19 has been a catalyst in permanently disrupting the FinTech, EdTech, Digital Health, and PropTech industries. Which begs the question, what does 2021 have in store? Here is what we learned:

FinTech

“COVID is not just a health crisis but also an economic crisis that has accelerated digital transformation to provide personal finance tools to the mass market,” shared Krystal Barker Buissereth, Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, which she explained is a direct result of the drop in income for a third of American households. According to Denisha Kuhlor, Vice President of Emerging Managers Practice at Silicon Valley Bank, the question that comes from this is how to support customer ecosystems virtually. Kuhlor stresses the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges customers are facing, which requires “people tackling the problems in diverse ways and kind of thinking about things from a host of perspectives.” Looking towards 2021, the opportunities arise in continuing to find ways to offer personal banking solutions virtually to a wider audience than traditionally reached.

EdTech

“No sector has endured more disruption than education,” shared Nex Cubed CEO, Marlon Evans , as he introduced the Educational Technology Webinar, something that many of the students in attendance can attest to, but “where there is pain there is opportunity.” This opportunity takes the form of self-paced learning. As Director of External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T, Charles Stein, stated, “Learning is not a one size fits all type of experience and as EdTech companies continue the trend of customizing the modality of instruction around the preferences and interests of the learner, I think we can expect to see better and maybe even unexpected outcomes.” If one message became clear from this discussion, it is that virtual learning is here to stay in one way or another as it allows for greater educational reach and has the capability of being a more immersive educational experience. Girls Who Code Chief Operating Officer, Tarika Barrett, Ph.D., shared that the shift to virtual learning this year allowed their company to reach more girls than ever before. As she stated, however, the challenge now becomes making sure that this virtual learning system is equitable. 2021 may look like a hybrid of in-person and online learning that will allow students to conduct their curriculum at their own pace, in a potentially more engaging way.

Digital Health

Perhaps the most apparent shift can be observed in the Healthcare Industry as our country and the world grapple with the immense challenges that have accompanied the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Zenefits Chief Operating Officer, Isaac Vaughn, shared during the webinar, “the pandemic has taken things that are ‘nice to haves’ and made them essential, pushing companies to provide new and innovative solutions to these new and growing challenges.” And as Daniel Haders, Ph.D., Managing Director of Digital Health at Nex Cubed, expertly summed up, the opportunities in this industry looking forward have shifted from finding a way to cure disease, to finding a way to prevent it. This shift in mindset will continue to increase in prevalence through 2021, paired with the continual development of telemedicine and ways to increase access to personal healthcare resources.

PropTech

Traditionally not an industry to be thought of as technologically advanced, the Real Estate sector has experienced a massive push towards innovation as a direct result of COVID-19. As stay at home orders have posed the question of the relevance of office space for many organizations, it leaves us wondering how the traditional work experience may change permanently. But as Claire Cormier Thielke, Managing Director at Hines and Board Director at Zillow, shared, people will always re-enter space, meaning people will eventually return to working and gathering in-person, it is just a matter of how. “When you are in a moment, it is always so hard to picture the other side,” says Thielke, who explained that real estate is cyclical. Therefore, it is important to focus on what the trends of the next cycle may be. Which is why Fatima Dicko, Founder and CEO at Sugar, encouraged listeners to not focus solely on COVID-19 related solutions, but rather how society is going to change as a result. 2021 will most likely center on identifying these customer preferences as people will be hesitant to gather in light of the pandemic.

5 Key Messages for Students and Alumni Building Companies in These Industries (or really any industry). 

With these priceless insights and trends from industry leaders, how then can students successfully enter into these industries? There are five key messages that our guests offered to the students and recent graduates in attendance that they believe are essential when starting one’s journey into entrepreneurship.

  1. Now is the time to take the risk. As a student or a recent graduate, your responsibility levels are perhaps the lowest they will ever be, and therefore there is all the more opportunity and ability to fail and learn from mistakes.
  2. Confidence is key. Confidence is a direct result of the environment that you decided to put yourself in. Hence, it is imperative that you surround yourself with a community that will allow you to foster and grow your confidence.
  3. Use your own experience to identify a problem and a passion. There is no greater knowledge than experience. If you are passionate about a problem then a solution will come.
  4. Capitalize on inexperience. It is okay if you are not an expert in a particular field; surround yourself with individuals that you can learn from and use your new perspective as an advantage to question and challenge the status quo.
  5. Prioritize mindfulness and intentionality. From your core team to those you seek funding from, it is imperative that you are mindful and intentional about building relationships and connections with individuals who believe in the problem that you are trying to address.

Nex Cubed would like to thank all of our Panelist and Roundtable Participants, as well as the student moderators who joined us for our Webinar Series. It has been an honor to learn from your insights and we are deeply grateful for your support as we realize our vision for this program. For those of you who missed the webinars and would like to view them, they can be accessed on our company YouTube Channelor view the industry webinars here:

FinTech

EdTech

Digital Health & Wellness

PropTech

Additionally, for all HBCU students and recent graduates interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, we are now accepting applications for our HBCU Founder’s Summer Acceleration Program now through February 1st. To learn more, visit our HBCU webpage here. If you’re ready to apply, click here.

Be on the lookout for our Industry Insights Series that will take a closer look at insights, predictions, and trends for 2021 for each industry.

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