Fellow Profile — Jason Mark
University: Schulich School of Business — York University
Major: Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies
What does your startup do?
Statflo is a smart CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform for telecom retail stores to increase their sales. We target 2 main pain points for these store owners:
- In-Store Traffic is decreasing — more and more customers are buying online and at competitor’s stores
- Sales representatives in these stores have hours of downtime per day (literally doing nothing and being paid) — due to inconsistent in-store traffic flow
Statflo is a tool that uses the store’s Point-Of-Sale (POS) data to activate this sales rep downtime to enable these reps to proactively and intelligently reach out to customers. We’re helping these business owners drastically improve their in-store traffic while at the same time making the most out of their fixed costs (sales rep wages/building payments/utilities/idle data/etc).
Describe a typical day at your startup: (role, day-to-day)
Currently at Statflo I work on business development. My role at Statflo is to help grow the company into new telecom carriers. Right now, I’m in charge of rolling Statflo into carriers by finding the right decision makers, doing background and industry research, talking to countless business owners, and helping closing deals to set up pilots within a select carrier.
Day-to Day: Emailing, skype calls, research and pitching to different professionals within the different carriers are a big part of the job. Sometimes I also work on Statflo’s sales assets (slide deck, scripting, sales videos, etc).
What do you love about working at a startup? (What are the benefits of working at a startup?)
- My Impact: I absolutely love how impactful my work is on the company. I feel the progress my successes has on the entire business and it motivates me to work hard.
- The People: I’m surrounded by like-minded people who all have an entrepreneurial spirit.
- Job Flexibility: Hours, location and vacation time are all extremely flexible and definitely takes some unneeded stress off the job.
- Networking Opportunities: The startup world is one that likes to give back. Entering a startup will unlock a world or mentorship and professional opportunities that you can tap into for any curiosities you may have.
What’s your favourite book?
My favourite book would have to be The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The way it broke down entrepreneurship completely changed my perspective towards start-ups. I really recommend reading it, some might disagree with the perspective, but ultimately it’s a fantastic perspective on the world of entrepreneurship. The Lean Startup helps break entrepreneurship down into a science and helps to clarify some “uncertain” steps of starting your own company.
What is the best part of being a Venture for Canada Fellow?
The community. Venture for Canada Fellows are accomplished graduates that have their eyes on entrepreneurship. Being a part of Venture for Canada is an incredible opportunity to grow your network and be surrounded by a support group that understand your love for the Canadian tech community.
What I also love about this community is that it doesn’t end after the VFC bootcamp. There are constantly networking events, keynote speeches and social events to educate you beyond the initial VFC bootcamp. This to me was one of the best things about being a VFC Fellow because I find these ongoing-events so valuable.
What do you hope to accomplish in your career?
I have a goal to launch my very own startup. I truly believe that to be a great leader you have to start by being a great follower. By joining a startup, I get to sit next to Statflo’s CEO and observe the company’s day to day activities. Seeing the roller coaster that an early stage Startup goes through is so valuable because it really shows you the hoops and loops startup teams have to jump through in order to be successful. I hope to make this leap one day and believe this startup experience will be crucial towards achieving my end goal.
Why should someone apply to Venture for Canada?
The community, the opportunities, the education, and the mentorship. If you’re someone that’s planning to enter the startup world either through doing it yourself or joining a startup of any caliber: becoming a VFC fellow should be your first step.
VFC makes the recruitment process so much easier as they provide the opportunities, the resources and the support group of so many others going through the exact same process as you. Doing it on your own is so much harder as your entire recruitment process is all outbound (you going to startups) and you lack the support group to benchmark your experience (which could affect things from how you answer interview questions to your starting salary).
What is the most important skill you gained as a fellow?
Self-initiation. VFC is set up in a way that forces you to go outside of your comfort zone and make the most of all the opportunities around you. If you sit back and expect opportunity to come your way… they’ll pass right by (like most things in life). VFC is a fantastic program, but only if you’re willing to work hard.
What qualities do you need to succeed in a startup?
Adaptability, hard work and persistence.
- Adaptability as things are constantly changing in startups. Changes in things such as office location, company culture, job descriptions and even business models are just some of the significant changes that can occur in the startup world. To succeed, you have to have the ability to adapt to your ever changing environment.
- Hard Work is required. Since your work is so impactful to the company and there’s so few working within the company, there’s nowhere to hide. The startup environment really pushes you to be at your potential 100% of the time…you’re team is relying on it.
- Persistence is key because in a startup, there will come a time (if not all the time) you’ll be working on an initiative or project no one has ever worked on before in the company. As such, you need the persistence to keep on progressing despite serious setbacks or little direction.
Describe your most memorable experience as a fellow.
I think the most memorable experience as a fellow HAS to be Dan Debow’s Keynote speech in Toronto near the end of the VFC Bootcamp.
I remember being completely blown away by his accomplishments and his truly inspiring words of advice. The way Dan Debow was able to break down his experiences and correlated it to life lessons was incredible.
I walked out of that room afterwards feeling so motivated to do incredible things.
What advice can you offer to future fellows?
- Befriend everyone — Not only are Fellows very friendly, but each person in the cohort has something unique to teach you. Everyone is from different backgrounds and it’s extremely interesting getting to know so many accomplished people with diverse life experiences.
- Use VFC’s resource and mentor pool — Use all of the VFC resources and meet all of the mentors. You’ll learn a ton.
- Complete at least 10 startup interviews before making a decision — This is crucial. No Startup is really the same and there aren’t too many people working in the startup that can TRULY give you an honest opinion of what it’s like to work there. The only way is to meet the people working there in person, compare your gut feeling to other startups you interviewed at and learn how to ask the right questions. You’ll really notice key differences between startups when you see enough of them.