Every day, we read about what cities around the world are up to – new sectors, infrastructure plans, or the latest urban planning disaster. According to the UN, over half of the world’s population now lives in cities. City life is taking up more and more of our attention, and as cities have grown, so too has the idea of the city as a living organism – the theory that cities evolve and adapt to the needs and whims of its residents, rather than the other way around.
On May 25, 2017, I spoke to Eytan Bensoussan, co-founder of Ferst Digital, a Montreal-based fintech startup aiming to create a fully mobile banking experience for small businesses. We discussed the role that startups will play in shaping the cities of tomorrow.
Question: Why are small businesses so important to the way we think about cities?
Answer: A thriving small business sector is one of the most important ways that a city can sustain itself. They’re the ones that give people opportunities. That’s how most young people get their start. It’s not only big corporations that hire.
Q: How does having a thriving small business sector affect cities physically?
A: There’s diversification. It’s the idea that people can start an idea on a whim and actually create a sustainable life from it. That’s where the diversity of everything that we see gets so interesting. That’s why you’ll have those odd restaurants and those very odd bookshops that you’d have never have thought of. The more thriving a sector is, the more it changes the face of the city.
Q: What does your ideal small business city look like?
A: One with strong infrastructure. One with strong sharing culture. Sharing in terms of the ability for people to find and help each other out. And some sort of push for creativity, where there is some well where people can get inspired and creative and push the boundaries.
This interview has been shortened and condensed.