March 14, 2016 by OCE Admin
OCE supports hundreds of award-winning companies across Ontario, from start-ups based in our colleges and universities to scale-ups with global sales.
Hear from some CEOs about their journey to success.
Meet Nadia Hamilton, CEO of Magnusmode.
Tell us about your work history.
I’ve lived for over 25 years with my brother, Troy, who has autism. When you live with someone with autism, it has a profound effect on your interests and values as a person. The compassion and strength I learned from him inspired me to volunteer avidly with Autism Ontario, Toronto Police Service, and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to helping my parents to look after my brother for years, while in university I took a course at the Geneva Centre for Autism to become certified in Applied Behaviour Analysis so that I could help other people living cognitive special needs. As an instructional therapist, I worked in the homes of families impacted by a variety of special needs for more than five years.
How did you get the idea for your company?
I’ve always liked to draw, and I’ve always recognized that people like my brother benefit from visual cues. When we were kids, I helped Troy to navigate life at home by creating step-by-step, hand-drawn guides for activities like brushing teeth. For Troy, life after graduation held a frustrating lack of opportunities for continued personal and social development. I heard about a social business competition through the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. I entered the competition and won. With the funding received from this competition, I created a set of online digital tools similar to those hand-drawn guides I had created for Troy when we were kids. These tools combine proven methods of instruction with elements of game design, and cater to the unique needs of teens and young adults with autism and other special needs.
How do you view your role as CEO of your company?
Magnusmode is my vision: a company dedicated to building a world where people with cognitive special needs live with greater independence and inclusion in their communities. My role as CEO is to bring together and manage the team and resources I need to achieve that vision. A huge part of my role is the face of the company, and our story (Troy’s and mine) is inextricably linked with where the company has been and where it is going. I meet with corporations, organizations, individuals and their support networks to tell that story and help others to understand and share in this vision.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Direct link between action and consequence. Seeing the value being made possible by one’s innovative thinking.
What is your best piece of advice for others wanting to start a company?
Do what you love. Businesses built around your talents and passions will have a greater chance of success. It's not only important to create a successful business, it's also important that you're happy growing it day in and day out because if your heart isn't in it, you will not be successful. One of the first things people notice about me is that I extremely passionate. When your passion becomes your purpose, great things happen.
What did OCE’s support mean to your company?
OCE's support has been instrumental in the startup phase of this company. It allowed us to hire some our first employees, who have added tremendous value in their specific areas of expertise. With OCE’s support, we launched our product to the world and became investor and customer ready. We’ve since gone on to refine the product business model, design our operational systems, build the team, grow our user base, raise investment, and achieve significant sales from fortune 500 companies in Canada and the US. The company was also selected as one of the top 5 female-led ventures in the 2016 SheEO Radical Generosity initiative.
Magnusmode is the creator of Magnus Cards, an online and mobile app that uses a gamified approach to help people with cognitive special needs gain greater independence and confidence in a variety of life skills and activities.
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