First Rate Shark Tank: A Think Tank Designed to Drive Innovation, Passion, and Collaboration
Starting in December of 2020, First Rate launched its very first Shark Tank IMMERSE program. It was comprised of 3 different teams all consisting of new hires with the challenge to create a go-to-market strategy around a popular trend in the wealth management industry. The purpose of this program was to allow new hires to feel a sense of ownership in the company, create team-building opportunities, and better understand where the industry is heading. It also gives the First Rate leadership team an opportunity to see through the lens of fresh eyes that are open to new ideas and innovative thinking.
We sat down with a member from each Shark Tank IMMERSE team to ask them how their experience was, what they learned, and how they can use this knowledge to help them in their careers moving forward.
Q: How long was this process and what was this process like working with your teams and coming up with different solutions?
PG: “For team Integrate, we decided on the direction we were going with pretty quickly, so we were able to spend the majority of our time discussing the implementation phase.”
KV: “The process took several weeks, and we met at least once a week. We knew we would be presenting to some high-level folks, and we wanted to be sure to impress. We didn’t take a ton of time to come up with a solution, but ours did pivot and evolve several times throughout the process.”
LT: “The process was fairly short in figuring out the trend we were going to choose. Once we decided on a topic, my team did an amazing job in the information-gathering phase. From there we started idea planning around how this trend could be utilized at First Rate. Whether it was with the current products we have or future impact, it was important to do as much research as possible to answer the question, “Would this be relevant to the market that First Rate is selling to?”.”
Q: Did you feel that each person on your team gave different perspectives on industry trend areas based on their roles at the company? And how was that experience?
PG: “Honestly, I think our team had a lot of like-minded approaches based on our roles, I think that presented some struggles and it would have been nice to have a wider range of experience.”
KV: “Coming from a sales background, I have limited experience with the technology industry, so it was nice to have people who had more tech experience on the team. We had a good balance of the analytic and ethereal thinkers. It made the process more streamlined with the team members that use our platform every day.”
LT: “My team was phenomenal. None of us really had interacted before, but that didn’t hinder us. I felt like each team member not only contributed but each gave a different perspective and brought their own piece of new information to meetings. I felt that each team member was able to utilize the lens through which they saw First Rate and their job title to further the project. The whole process was very fluid and enjoyable with my team members.”
Q: What was the most valuable thing you learned through this process?
PG: “At any company, our people are our most valuable assets. Great ideas are only as valuable as the work put in to make them come to fruition, and an exercise like Shark Tank can either be another thing that fills up our calendars or an opportunity to take our company into the future.”
KV: “Preparation is key.”
LT: “The most valuable piece I took away from this project was a sense of ownership and responsibility for the company I work for. I was able to see the business sector in which we operate in much greater detail and I saw the importance of First Rate in that space. I don’t just feel like an employee in my direct role in the company, but I also feel a desire to further what I learned and what I will continue to learn as a way to help First Rate be a major player and leader in the financial service industry for years to come.”
Q: Why did you choose the industry trend that you chose?
PG: “Implementations and client onboarding are major factors in our success as a company. Since I’ve had the opportunity to work on several since starting at First Rate and am in the midst of a couple right now, it is an area I felt passionate about that needs innovation and attention. It is also a trend or area that most in our industry seem to struggle with, and something that if done well could set us apart as a company.”
KV: “The Robo Assistant/Analyzer resonated with our team as something First Rate could truly benefit from in order to grow and improve our solutions.”
LT: “My team and I chose Cryptocurrency/assets for a few reasons. Cryptocurrency is dominating the news currently, you can’t go a few days now without hearing about some new information in the space. We all agreed we didn’t know too much about it or understand the blockchain behind it very well. Some would see this as a turn-off, but my team and I saw this as an opportunity to gain understanding while providing valuable information to the sharks Also, after only 10 minutes of research, we found the vast amount of new information in the wealth management industry to be very impressive. If we could find this much information in 10 minutes, just imagine how much we could find in a month! Lastly, we chose Cryptocurrency because we saw a trend that is still in its infancy but is moving fast. We felt that providing information about what it is and ways in which this trend could be useful would help not only our clients but First Rate overall. It was a no-brainer, and we realized we had to take the risk and tackle this challenge head-on.”
Q: Would you recommend this be something that continues in the future? How was it valuable to you and to First Rate?
PG: “The first time around for anything like this can be tough, as no one really knows what to expect. Going forward, I do think that new hires, the ELT, and First Rate as a whole could benefit from continuing First Rate Shark Tank. It provided a reason to get to know others in our company better, as well as a stage to share whatever we believed is valuable to our leaders. Whether intentional or not, I think it shines a light on each of us individually to make both strengths and weaknesses visible.”
KV: “I think new hires can benefit from something like this, but I also think our tenured folks can, too. A mix of each would make for interesting pitches. I found value in working with a group of people I had never met and finding ways to work together with different personality styles. I also found it valuable to work directly with the ELT to learn about their goals, personalities, and visions for the company.”
LT: “I highly recommend this to continue going forward. The comradery of team members, joy in competition, and ownership mentality made this experience very valuable in furthering my knowledge of the company and what my “why” is for pursuing a career in this industry. There were tough times balancing this program and regular work life, but the information and skills I learned far outweigh any downsides from the experience.”