‘Trust yourself’ — and other business advice from young entrepreneurs
U of M alumni mark Global Entrepreneurship Week
UM Today caught up with two young entrepreneurs and recent grads who will be on campus this afternoon to talk about how they turned their good ideas into good businesses.
Bryce North and Hillery Taylor — along with alumni Nick Danzinger and Kris Luinenburg — will take part in a panel discussion from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Marshall McLuhan Hall to mark Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Moderated by Stuart Henrickson (director of the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship), the talk also includes alumna Joelle Foster (director of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation for Manitoba, Nunavut and Northwest Territories) who has mentored more than 300 Canadian businesses.
Here’s some advice from our young entrepreneurs.
Bryce North, 25, co-founder of AdVolve Media (with fellow panelist Kris Luinenburg), launched November 2011
Class of 2013, Asper School of Business
A custom-display company focusing on consumer analytics. Their first product, the Mirage Mirror, has hidden within it moving ads that activate when someone walks up to the mirror. The proprietary software can track how many people look at the ad and for how long — key information that before was restricted to online advertising. You’ll find the sleek mirror ads at a growing number of Winnipeg night clubs and restaurants, in addition to one of the city’s newest gems: Investors Group Field.
How he came up with the idea:
North saw a mirror that doubled as a TV in a show home in the U.K. “I wanted to take that and make it high def, interactive, a lot cooler and customizable so we could attract advertisers and consumers.”
What he’s most proud of:
The failure of his first company — a breathalyzer device installed in bars on which he sold ad space. “I learned so much, how to structure a company and a deal, how to look for funding, assemble a team, how to promote new technology. I learned a lot: what to do, what not to do. It really led to the current success of AdVolve Media.”
The best business advice he’s received:
“Just do it.”
His advice for others:
“What have you got to lose from jumping off of a cliff and taking a chance and starting this company? Ideas will always open the door to other ideas. Whether your company fails or does poorly you’ll learn so much from that. A new idea will resonate from that failure, always, so don’t be scared to do it.”
His goal going forward:
“To grow this company across Canada and hopefully internationally to the point of acquisition.”
What he knows now that he wishes he knew then:
“Never be scared to share your idea. People are there to help.”
Hillery Taylor, 30, registered nurse and new mom, founder of Baby Rush Prenatal Education and Support Inc. in 2008 which expanded into Nest Family Centre in 2012
Class of 2006, Faculty of Nursing
A 3,000-square-foot facility to support parents and their children — from prenatal to age five — through the ups and downs of life with kids. She works with more than a dozen consultants to offer everything from nutrition and CPR courses, to kids yoga and mom boot camps, even postpartum depression support and grief counselling.
How she came up with the idea:
As a nursing student doing her clinical rotations she realized: “The hospital was kind of a drive-through and I don’t like to teach that way or be with my patients that way. I wanted a place where I could see them through the longer term and give them more support.”
The key to her business’s success:
Personal touches that strengthen connections with her clients and build trust. “I’m honoured to be able to watch their babies grow…We’ve developed a wonderful community at Nest. The girls feel at home here.”
Her biggest challenge:
“Not taking things personally because everything positive and negative you take to heart because it’s yours and it’s a reflection of you…I very much wear my heart on my sleeve. This business is me.
What she knows now that she wishes she knew then:
“I wish I would have trusted myself more. At the beginning you have so many doubts. (You think) can I actually do this? I’m a nurse not a business person…I wish I would have trusted my gut more and not be pressured into things as much.”
The best business advice she’s received:
“You have to make it happen. You have to do whatever you need to do to make it happen. That’s the way I look at life in general now. You can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen.”
Her advice for others:
“Be brave. You have to take charge and you have to step forward.