Entrepreneurs share their lessons learned

Startup owners discuss highlights and struggles of starting a business

Left: VK’s economic development manager Nicole Bruce, Open Gaming Solutions CEO Chris Wright, RIH Foundation’s director community partnerships Julie Kimmel and Jeff Masigan Pixel Architect’s founder. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

The TRU generator’s latest segment of their startup basics series showcased a discussion panel last Tuesday featuring four local business owners willing to share their learning journey regarding kickstarting and managing a business. The group featured Venture Kamloops’ economic development manager Nicole Bruce, Open Gaming Solutions CEO Chris Wright, Royal Inland Hospital Foundation’s director community partnerships and philanthropy Julie Kimmel and Jeff Masigan, founder of Pixel Architect. Each provided insight on their own business ventures along with some of the knowledge they’ve acquired along the way.

A common theme among all the panellists’ successful business ventures was to start or invest in a business that was in line with their core values and interests, along with establishing a thorough business plan at the beginning. For Nicole Bruce, her best investments were the ones in businesses she was passionate about, including The Kids Room and Shuswap Infusion Tea Company.

“In retrospect, I would have to say that all of my business ideas were very tightly woven with the stage in life that I was at in my interests,” she said. “Definitely alongside all my passions and interests I’ve found an opportunity to start a business but underlying it all is good research to make sure that idea is viable.”

Jeff Masigan landed in web development unintentionally after beginning his career as in film motion graphics and effects. He mastered his web developing skills in producing websites for movie trailers and after working with a graphic design and web agency in Vancouver for some time, he decided to pursue his venture by slowly finding clients. For Masigan, there are no bad ideas for a business, just poorly planned and executed ones.

“Maybe nine years ago if you told me, ‘Hey would you want to go on a website and book a random room in some guys house and book that for your vacation?’ I would be like no that’s stupid why would I do that,” he chuckled. “Here we are with Airbnb, a tremendous multi-billion-dollar company that came out of some guy’s idea; there are no bad ideas, just poorly executed ones.”

For students nearing graduation, it can be a difficult choice to decide whether to enter the workforce immediately or pursue a business venture, not to mention significant additional hindrances like student loans. For Bruce and Masigan, their time working for organizations was crucial for their introduction into the entrepreneurial world; however, witnessing getting trapped in the corporate world, Chris Wright suggests that starting early may be the optimal time for kickstarting a business.

“I would consider [starting a business] if I were young, one, if you can start in the corporate world you might get trapped, it’s too easy not to change and I would be wary of that,” he said. “The other thing is if things go really sideways and you overleverage yourself to death, you’re still young and it’s easier to clear yourself up when you’re 20 than when you’re 40.”

Julie Kimmel suggests the idea of exploring different opportunities and starting a business at a slower pace, more as a side hustle rather than a full commitment. Much like Wright’s point of view, starting young often equates to the least amount of additional responsibilities, fostering an ideal environment for entrepreneurship.

“I feel like if you’re passionate about something and if you can start small without putting a lot of money into it, you can start that way while you’re doing something else,” she said. “At this point in your lives, depending on who you are, you may have the least responsibility you’ll ever have, especially if it’s just you without a partner, without children, without a house; there’s a lot less to lose.”