Stories From The Arch

Photo from the Ontario Business Achievement Awards.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

If you read McMaster’s Daily News, you probably saw the article about Mac Alumni Matthew Sheridan winning the Ontario’s young entrepreneur of the year award for 2015. This is a huge deal considering the company began in 2013, and gained its $70,000 dollars in funding as the first Canadian company on Kickstarter. Sheridan’s company, Nix Sensor Ltd. created a device called the Nix sensor, which measures the colour of any surface by using a calibrated light system to make accurate colour matches. Once the surface colour is measured, it is sent to your smartphone so you can organize and save colour palettes for future reference.

It’s amazing to hear about a McMaster grad creating such successful company, and there is more to learn about this story. Sheridan is an entrepreneur, and he leads by example for many students here at McMaster.

The Nix Colour Sensor

Upon looking into the topic a little more, I got in contact with Zachary Strong, one of the great minds behind the business development at Nix Sensor Ltd. I asked him for some honest advice for those who may be interested in entrepreneurship, and I was pretty happy with the advice he had;

“Believe it or not, you’re not going to be the only person in the world that’s ever started a business. If you really want to be successful, shut the hell up about how much of an awesome young entrepreneur you are and do your best to follow in the footsteps of people who have done it before.

Specifically, get really good at finding good mentors and making good use of them. It is immensely fulfilling to have the opportunity to coach or advise young talent, and you’d be amazed at how far ahead you can get just by being coachable.”

Alongside with finding good mentors to help you succeed, Strong also recommends working for a small to mid-sized company before taking the leap to begin your business. It gives you more of an opportunity to see how a company runs from the inside out, and all the different roles and activities that will need to be filled.

While deciding your future career, keep in mind that small businesses make up nearly 98% of employers in Canada, and employ 48% of the workforce. Universities know this statistic, and have been trying to incorporate this knowledge into the curriculum for students (McMaster/ Mohawk business diploma, the Engineering and Management program, and many others). McMaster wants students to recognize that the potential for greatness does not always lie within landing a job after graduation; it may be in creating a job. Entrepreneurship has become such an integral part of learning here at McMaster that we now have a program called Spectrum, which aims to help build and develop McMaster students into young entrepreneurs. They even run events that provide students with a chance to win $50,000 in prizes for their start up business. It is a pretty awesome program, and I think more students should reach out and participate! Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, because they have some pretty great reads on the job market and other start-up companies.

There are many support systems here at Mac to help you get started, so take advantage of them! If you have a great idea for a product or service, and you know it’s worth pursuing, don’t be afraid to work towards building your own company. Who knows, you might become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs, The mind behind Apple

If you would like hear more from Strong, his blog post on entrepreneurship does a great job explaining more about it.

Also, Dragons Den is an awesome show, and I’m addicted! You can get some pretty cool ideas from it for your own start up!

Photo of Taylor Noble

About the Author

Taylor Noble blogged for the Student Success Centre from 2015 to 2016.

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