Ones to Watch Award
Melissa Kargiannakis is the founder and CEO of Skritswap: a Silicon Valley venture capital-funded AI start-up that swaps complex jargon into plain, easy-to-understand language. Imagine a mortgage at a grade six reading level. In just nine months full-time at Skritswap, Melissa led the team to win the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies in Canada from the Canadian Innovation Exchange.
My first job ever was…Waitress and Lifeguard in Sault Ste. Marie.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… this is a product that the world simply needs. A colleague at MaRS Discovery District challenged me to consider: “Why not me? Who gives me permission?”My proudest accomplishment is… winning an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2015.
My boldest move to date was… closing my whole pre-seed fundraising round in only 4 hours!
I surprise people when I tell them… I can sing opera.
I knew it was time to launch my business when… the XPRIZE for Adult Literacy came out in 2015, validating just how extensive this problem is. I was incorporated within a month of seeing the competition.
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… take one step every single day to move your business forward, especially if you are just starting out and perhaps even still working a day job; just one thing, every day.
“Take one step every single day to move your business forward.”
My best advice from a mentor was… don’t say too much all at once. Share one bit of information at a time, they will ask for more if they are curious.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… first, I have a good cry to let it out. Then I write in my notebook specifically for journaling my feelings about the company. Next, I call an advisor/mentor and friend to help remind me of the good times and why I’m doing this. After all that, then I tell myself that this challenge is completely surmountable and I can figure it out. When it gets really tough usually stepping away from work for at least a weekend or even a full vacation really helps me reset.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… probably just do more work. I already make sure I exercise, journal, meditate, and eat my healthy meals daily. It’s all about prioritizing your time, there’s no such thing as too busy.
I stay inspired by… living in gratitude for how far I’ve come. And looking forward at all the possibilities on the horizon.
The future excites me because… I am creating the life I’ve always dreamed of that positively impacts others using tech to increase equity.
My next step is… showing people how we can simplify their information: if you work in the financial industry at a bank or insurance company and want to see the results – call me. I am also raising a Seed round this fall – call me if you want in.