Fintech. Edtech. Femtech. Along your path as a young entrepreneur, you’ve probably encountered words like these. You’re smart enough that you can probably infer what some of them mean: financial technology, educational technology, and — old-fashioned and binary though it may be — femtech for technology aimed at women.
These words are what’s known as portmanteaus. A portmanteau is a word made up from smooshing two other words together. You probably use them every day without realizing it. E-mail = electronic mail. Brunch = breakfast + lunch. And so on.
The various types of “-tech” industries, then, are those that seek to make a certain, specific field more engaging, efficient, or user-friendly via technology such as apps, diagnostic tools, websites, and other digital media. Even if you aren’t engaged directly in STEM or STEAM fields, you almost certainly engage with tech every day. (As evidenced by the fact you are reading this blog!)
As the future of global business, your enterprise will likely engage in some type of “-tech.” Young entrepreneurs like you are already leading the way, thanks to unprecedented digital intelligence within your generation.
SOME POPULAR TYPES OF “-TECH”
BuiltIn.com defines edtech as “the practice of introducing IT tools into the classroom to create a more engaging, inclusive, and individualized learning experience.” You probably see this multiple times a day at school already. Online websites for doing schoolwork and homework, in-class tablets, and virtual classrooms are just a few examples of edtech.
Investopedia defines fintech as “new tech that seeks to…help companies, business owners, and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives.” When you see ads for QuickBooks, E-Trade, or Zelle, those are fintech. Fintech helps customers and businesses avoid cash and in-person transactions, and instead focus on moving money between apps.
Cryptocurrency is also part of fintech because it is entirely digital.
By now you can probably guess that agritech means agricultural technology. According to the site Pinduoduo, agritech “saves farmers time and money, by automating tasks and replacing much of the labor needed on a farming operation – which usually constitutes the highest cost input to a farming system.” Robots, satellites, and even drones are now being used as agritech in the world of farming.
Fittech includes all those apps, websites, and streaming services designed to help people get fit, monitor their nutrition, and stay healthy. These include meditation apps like Calm, wearable technology like FitBits, and digital home gym systems like The Mirror.
This is probably one of the most controversial of the “-tech” industries. Femtech includes apps for tracking your period, monitoring sexual health, and staying on top of birth control use. And while it does help many cis-gendered women, a lot of femtech excludes the needs of trans-gendered individuals or non-binary femmes. Still, femtech is a rising industry as more and more cis-women take control of their health and wellbeing.
IS A –TECH INDUSTRY RIGHT FOR YOU?
Just as there is no one single “correct” way to become a young entrepreneur, there’s also no single answer to the question of whether you need to be involved in a tech-related industry within your field. If your disposition leans more toward hands-on work, that’s fine! We’re not (yet) at the point where we exist solely in a digital world. Working with animals, children, or outside all involve your physical presence.
And yet, according to the site Statista, in 2020 more than 218 billion apps were downloaded. And maybe you want in on that.
At the very least, you may want to get paid via app. Those of you building virtual enterprises such as online tutoring or pet supply shops probably don’t want to be paid by checks sent in the mail. Fintech such as Venmo, Zelle, or Google Pay allows you to be paid by anyone in the world. Even in-person shops, like the organic bath product stall you set up at a local farmer’s market, can use fintech like Square card readers.
And if there’s not already an app you can use for your business? Then maybe consider that your entrepreneurial journey includes creating your own! From diagnosing cancer to mobile games, young entrepreneurs like you are creating their own apps – and getting noticed for their work.
When you boil it down to its essence, entrepreneurship is just problem-solving. Think about all the apps you use and how they solve everyday problems in your life. Or think about the problems you would have if some of your favorite apps disappeared. Now, think about other problems you have or that you see in the world around you that might be made better via an app.
Even more than apps, there may be ways for you to improve people’s lives through a system of technology. Laptops helped make computers portable. Smartphones made laptops even smaller. Cars replaced horses and streaming services are replacing cable. Where in your world do you see an opportunity for automation that can help? You might not even have to invent anything new. Consider:
- Installing smart home technology as a business
- Transferring old video- and film-based home movies to digital
- Using drones for contact-free product delivery to neighbors
- Recycling old battery packs and chargers for use in new machines
- Programmable AI for parents and teachers to help keep their children engaged
We’re sure you probably have a million more ideas!
As you are probably aware, technology isn’t going away anytime soon. The digital age has been upon us since before you were born! You’re lucky enough to grow up in a time when, thanks to technology, almost anything is possible. You already know your way around an app and smart home systems. Why not put that knowledge to work for you?
Those of you young entrepreneurs who are more idea-oriented can take this opportunity to form a team. Find builders, engineers, programmers, and designers who are willing to work with you. Remember, leadership is a key skill of entrepreneurship! What tech will you create that will change the world?
If you are a high school student in Florida with a passion for entrepreneurship, click here to find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s college scholarship program.