During the week of November 8, we celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week by focusing on those rare leaders who go all in and never quit.
DeGroote alumni and students tell us what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Turn your passion into a career
Three DeGroote alumni entrepreneurs turned their passion for health and wellness from a small side hustle into a full-time career. Stef Prodea, Jack Baker, and Katie McKinnon are the co-founders of Welo, where they make kid-friendly snack products that are low in sugar and made with real ingredients. Find out what motivates them, the struggles they faced as entrepreneurs, and how they built a corporate culture in this growing company.
Tips for Entrepreneurs
DeGroote business students Casey Rogan, Matt Carter, and Matthew Milne founded Toques from the Heart in 2019. These entrepreneurs came together over a common vision to start a business with a meaningful and positive impact. Last winter they distributed 2,500 toques to Canadians experiencing homelessness. This year, they have partnered with 25 giving partners across the country, with the goal of distributing toques to those who need it most.
Here are their top three tips for entrepreneurs:
Don’t dip your toe in, dive head first
Buy the right equipment, hire the proper people, and perfect your product/service. There is a risk factor when starting a business, but you should embrace it, don’t be scared of it. Diving in head-first achieves two main things. First, you are now invested in your business, and when problems occur, you are more likely to figure out solutions rather than give up. Second, diving head-first gives you an advantage over rival companies that are only dipping their toes in. The proper product/service, supplies/equipment, and employees will allow your company to thrive over rivals. It is a mindset that has proven to be my biggest asset. Be confident in yourself and your company!
─ Matt Carter, vice president, co-founder, and director of finance and operations, Toques from the Heart
Work for your dream
When working on your own business, building it from the ground up can be one of the most challenging things you have ever done. With this difficulty, you may look to outside sources for help, and under normal circumstances, this is not a bad thing. However, one tip that we learned on our journey is that no one is going to work harder than you to make your dream come true. This does not mean that you cannot ask for help, but the majority of the work will have to come from within if you want to realize this dream. Try and limit how much work you outsource as long as you can, that way you know the important tasks are being completed as you need them to be done and at the level you are setting for yourself and your business.
─ Matthew Milne, vice president, co-founder, and director of partnerships and giving, Toques from the Heart
Always try new things
When growing your business don’t hold back with experimenting. Continue to test new ways to advertise your business, increase sales, gain loyal customers, etc. Testing new things allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work. By doing so you are continuously learning and gaining a better understanding of what is right for your business. Something we tested at Toques from the Heart was our micro-influencer PR strategy within the hockey community. By doing so we opened up a world of opportunities without even realizing it. It turned out that this community has been some of our most engaged supporters and followers to date. Keep in mind that you also want to be quick to pivot if things aren’t working out. You don’t want to waste your time and resources. Analyze the ROI on what you’re trying to do and be quick to change and adapt.
─ Casey Rogan, president, co-founder, and director of marketing, Toques from the Heart
Running a business with purpose
Being an entrepreneur requires sacrifice, dedication, courage, and vision to reach your goals. Tej Sandhu is the owner and co-founder of MERIT Brewing and a DeGroote BCom ’10 alumnus. He shares his story, from his deep family roots in entrepreneurship to what he loves about being an entrepreneur, and how he is driven by a sense of purpose to build a community business that enriches his city.
Learn from industry professionals
Don’t miss McMaster World Congress that will be hosted in the new year. The theme for 2022 is Startups.
Discover how to turn your passions, skills and interests into an exciting and meaningful project or career. Learn from industry professionals from around the world and catch insightful and engaging presentations that dive into the different stages of the Startup process.
For more information visit McMaster World Congress.
For additional entrepreneur information and resources, visit the McMaster Student Success Centre.