Devesh Bharadwaj of Pani Energy, Victor Nicolov of ANVY Technologies and Juan Orrego of Cuboh, founders of Victoria based start-ups, shared their entrepreneurial journeys including their successes, their mistakes and some key pieces of advice for entrepreneurs just starting out. These three entrepreneurs have a number of things in common: 1) they all started their companies while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at the University of Victoria; 2) they participated in UVic’s Entrepreneurship Co-op program, each taking a semester off from their studies to work full time on their ventures; and 3) they are recipients of the Coast Capital Entrepreneurship Co-op Award, an annual, individual $6000 award presented to a student working on their own startup idea during a co-op semester. The three also agreed that early support, whether through funding or mentorship was critical to the continued success of their businesses.
Victor, Devesh and Juan covered many topics, and provided some excellent advice for entrepreneurs and those exploring entrepreneurship. There were many overlapping thoughts, and all agreed on the six pieces of advice below:
- When you see a problem in the world, chase it, there may or may not be a solution out there for it, but go and chase it. Lots of people have identified a real problem and have good ideas to solve it, so get out there and solve it.
- Be critical of your idea, and always question your hypothesis. There are very few reasons not to succeed as long as you are continually questioning your hypothesis.
- Have conversations with your potential customers. Understand what it is that people really want by putting your idea out there and seeking feedback from potential customers before you build anything. Your customers will likely give you all the ideas you need to build a product that people will want and will purchase.
- When it come to entrepreneurship, the odds are not in your favour, but they will be at some point if you stay passionate and keep persisting. The people who succeed don’t give up when most people would have.
- Seek out a support system. Being part of an entrepreneurial community, like the Coast Capital Innovation Centre, is great for making connections, receiving feedback and advice and keeping you accountable. Talking to a trusted supporter, even if they don’t give you the answer, will probably help you understand your next best move.
- Work towards something you believe in. You can create the change you want to see in the world and there is no problem that is too big to solve.
Whether you are at the beginning of your journey or are a seasoned entrepreneur, this advice is relevant at any stage. Pani Energy, Cuboh and Anvy Technologies are companies supported by the Coast Capital Innovation Centre. The Coast Capital Innovation Centre has been made possible through a partnership between the University of Victoria and the Coast Capital Federal Credit Union. Since 2016, Coast Capital has committed over $1.5 million to support entrepreneurs and innovators at UVic.
Written by Tyler West and edited by Jerome Etwaroo.