November 20, 2012 by OCE Admin
In honour of Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov 12-18, 2012), we asked some of our OCE- and CCR-supported entrepreneurs to answer the question "Why I picked entrepreneurship." The following is a compilation of their thoughts.
Entrepreneur Chris Reid is an engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo. As his latest venture, Chris is Co-founder and CEO of sortable.com, which helps users find the best product for their specific needs from great mobile phones to the best dSLRs.
I think entrepreneurship chose me. From a very young age I couldn't not
think about business: market opportunities, inefficiencies, marketing, competitive advantage. It didn't run in my family, it wasn't encouraged early but it’s been a defining theme throughout my life.
I was the kid who set up the lemonade stand, who gamed systems, hacked; if it made a profit I was intrigued. I bought equities as soon as I could put together the money, day traded, tried good businesses and bad all before I was 20 years old. If my parents didn't like it, I did it in secret.
Being an entrepreneur is such a beautiful opportunity, and it is very much what you make of it. You can set your sights as large as you want, challenge who you want, learn what you want. You take off your kid gloves and you see what happens; sometimes you get knocked out, sometimes you win. You meet and work with those you can attract to your side. You ride market inefficiencies, bubbles and busts. People cheer, people sneer; sometimes you're rewarded.
I wouldn't do anything else; it's an incredible job to have.
Facebook: fb.me/Sortable Katherine Hague is CEO/CoFounder of ShopLocket, a Toronto-based start-up changing the way people buy and sell online. ShopLocket lets anyone start selling professionally, from any website or platform in minutes. Katherine has been involved in the Toronto start-up community since the age of 16 and is a graduate of the Schulich B.B.A. program.
Today at 22, running ShopLocket
, I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing. When I was younger I remember looking around at the people I admired on TV and in books — Richard Branson, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Felix Denis, Tony Hsieh — and they always seemed to have something in common; they were building things, creating things, paving the way for other people. No one told them what to do; they would just go out there and do what they thought needed to be done. I wanted to be one of those people.
In high school, I was lucky enough to meet some of these incredible entrepreneurs and hear their stories. I quickly discovered that the people we so often hold on pedestals aren’t super heroes and they don’t have special powers — they are just like you and me. If they can do it, then why can’t I?
Even long before I knew what entrepreneurship was I was always starting things; from garage sales, craft business, to career counselling. I can’t really remember a time that I ever imagined myself working for someone else. As an entrepreneur I can wake up every day with a purpose and the knowledge that I have the power to make what I imagine a reality. That’s why I choose to be an entrepreneur.
Twitter: @ShopLocket @katherinehague
A University of Waterloo Engineering graduate, Jason Tham is now the CEO of packaging software company Nulogy. Jason takes a personal approach to corporate development and leadership, whether it is getting to know customer needs or initiating the next stage of growth for the company he co-founded.
One could say I picked up entrepreneurship, but sometimes I think it picked me. Since I can remember, I've been building things -- model airplanes, cars, kites…lemonade stands. If I could build something from scratch, the more fun I had. At school, I loved projects. Thinking back, I always looked forward to the next science fair project.
While I enjoyed building something on my own, creating something with a friend or entire group was even better. Each year, I had a desire to build more complicated and difficult things. I found that the longer it took, the more fulfilling it was to see the result.
As a "builder," I'm also interested in the finished product of others. I admire amazing products, and wonder how they were conceived, designed and built. The better the product or solution, the more curious I am about it.
As an entrepreneur, I get to spend every day creating something with a team of like-minded people. I get to participate in the ideation of solutions for our customers, and follow-through on building them. Of all my projects, it's been the most rewarding by far.
Facebook: fb.me/nulogy Jessica Ching is an industrial designer responsible for product development and the overall direction of Eve Medical. She has worked previously in product development and manufacturing liaison roles for Herman Miller, Umbra and Telus. She is a graduate of OCAD University, and also holds a BA in International Development from McGill University.
I started Eve Medical
because I saw a unique opportunity that challenged and tempted me until it only seemed right to take it on.
When I graduated from OCAD University, I had an early concept for a device that I believed could really help women take care of their health, and maybe even save lives. I also knew that the cervical cancer screening landscape was quickly changing, and that this product had the potential to be part of that change.
Although I knew that there were many obstacles in my way - my own inexperience, lack of funding, a complex healthcare system - it ultimately seemed like more of a shame to give up on an promising idea before giving it a chance to thrive. I was also deeply encouraged by the women I met, who told me this was something they were excited about, as well as my co-founder who gave me the courage to take the plunge as a team.
In the end, it seems my beginnings as a designer and entrepreneur were perhaps both motivated by a desire to have an impact in people's lives. I think building a product and a company are a good way to make that impact.
Twitter: @evemedical Paul Webster is a recent PhD graduate of Queen’s University and the 2012 recipient of OCE’s Martin Walmsley Fellowship for Technical Entrepreneurship and PARTEQ Innovations’ Atherton Entrepreneurship Award. His company, Laser Depth Dynamics, is providing the next dimension of control for advanced manufacturing in Ontario.
Some ideas are just too much fun, and have too much potential, to leave behind when you’ve finished your degree. You never know whether the broader technical community is going to pick up on your publications and try to make something out of your research. So why not do it yourself?
I love working on my technology, and when you work on something you love, it doesn’t really seem like work. It’s about more than making money or writing a paper -- you just want to know for yourself: Is this going to work? Can I actually do this? And when you finally get to the stage where the device that you’ve poured all your time, sweat and energy into gives you your first results, it’s one of the best feelings in the world!
Taking technology from one’s PhD research out into the market is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m very fortunate to have the trust and confidence that OCE and PARTEQ have lent me through their awards.
Chris Ferguson came to OCE as a master's student at Trent University, working on his technology and eventually founding his own company. That company, Carbon Control Systems, as developed a patented biochemical monitoring system that enables biogas plant operators to understand the health of their system in real time.
I’m not sure I actually chose to become an entrepreneur; I was definitely a scientist first and foremost. The entrepreneurial traits that emerged throughout my life came out partly as natural ability and partly out of necessity to forward and implement the science that I was passionate about. “Picking” entrepreneurship was really an evolution for me.
Now that I am living and breathing entrepreneurship every day, it is amazing how integrated you become into the local and global society. Where you can see that integration of a new technology positively affects so many aspects of life from the environmental to economical and everything in between.
The science only took me so far on this journey – the rest of it has been accomplished through entrepreneurship. I’m glad I made that shift from lab to marketplace. I encourage technical people to push outside their comfort zone and pursue that next step.
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