Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Find help from your community
I recently overheard the following conversation between two entrepreneurs during a networking event:
“Some days I feel like I’m on the peak of the world and some days I feel so low that I ask myself why I’m doing this.”
“For me, it’s not by days, it’s hourly.”
Afterward, I thought to myself that starting a business could be a lonely venture, which is why peer-to-peer networking and communication are so important for entrepreneurs.
Last Wednesday, Entrepreneurship 101 held a “Meet the Entrepreneurs” session and invited three entrepreneurs from the life sciences and healthcare fields to share their ups and downs, joys and frustrations, and the experiences and lessons they have learned in their entrepreneurial lives.
The panellists were:
- Joel Ironstone, the founder and CEO of SenoSENSE Medical Systems Inc., a company that sells a fast, simple, low-cost pre-screening tool for personalized breast cancer risk assessment;
- Trevor van Mierlo, the founder and CEO of Evolution Health Systems Inc., a science-based company that has developed a web and community platform that brings health programs to life; and
- Alex Hodgson, the founder and managing director of 1DegreeBio, an online resource that offers the biomedical research community a simple and efficient way to source products.
Peter Adams, senior advisor in the life sciences and healthcare practice at MaRS, served as the panel moderator.
The panellists seemed like real human beings rather than the “heroes” that Hollywood often uses to portray entrepreneurs. Their discussion was hilarious, but also down to earth and informative. Here are some highlights:
Question: What led you to become an entrepreneur?
Trevor: “I never thought I would become an entrepreneur. When I was in high school, I sat with a counsellor and he said that I should become a park ranger (the audience laughed) or, anyway, something to do with outside.
When I started off, I was 28, so I knew nothing. I thought I knew everything, but I knew nothing. And it’s great I didn’t realize that I knew nothing, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have made the bold steps I made.”
Question: How do you choose a good name for your company?
Joel: “I asked my wife and she came up with the name for my company (the audience laughed). But don’t let the naming stop you – just build your product.”
Hollywood is right about one thing: entrepreneurs are really persistent.
Trevor: “I don’t want to be in my 50s, 60s, or 70s, and look back and say ‘Why didn’t I take that chance?’ For this reason I was just compelled to start the company.”
Joel: “If I didn’t do this, every night I’d probably think: ‘Should I start my own company today?’ ‘Should I start my own company tomorrow?’”
Alex: “Being an entrepreneur is addictive. Once you are an entrepreneur, you don’t want to do anything else. I will never regret it.”
Want to hear more from and get more inspired by these entrepreneurs? Watch the video below.
When the Entrepreneurship 101 session was over, after a long day of work and after being a panellist at the event, Alex stayed until 9:30 p.m. to answer people’s questions. She said she thought that it was important to get some guidance when beginning a company and that she would like to do so for others since she wished she had received some guidance when she started out.
Luckily, mentorship for entrepreneurs has been given a lot of attention these days. The Canadian Mentorship Challenge powered by Startup Canada, for example, is aiming to mentor 10,000 Canadian entrepreneurs.
Want to connect?
Forgot to take notes? Here is a sketch note shared by attendee Sacha Chua.