Taking My First Steps into Entrepreneurship & Start-Ups


Prologue

Hello! To start, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Bobby Wong and I’m an incoming third-year student at the Telfer School of Management specializing in Management Information Systems and Analytics (MISA) & Marketing.

I know, pretty boring stuff. So let’s look at some cooler things I’ve done. I’ve been on Conseil Étudiant Telfer Student Council for 3 years now, I’ve participated in Enactus, was a delegate for Model Parliament, and I’ve participated in 3 case competitions — Telfer Internal Case Competition, Happening Marketing, and Jeux Du Commerce Central. As sick as it is, nothing has interested me more than what I’m doing right now, literally right now — as I sit at my desk at Invest Ottawa, working with the lovely members of Incuvers.

Me at JDCC

My journey with entrepreneurship has been an odd one. I didn’t really know what entrepreneurship entailed until I first got involved with the Junior Achievement Company Program in Grade 12 with the Toronto Deloitte team. We created a financial literacy platform that was made for Generation Z by Generation Z and we ended off selling it to Kanetix Insurance. Before this point in my life, I knew for sure I was going into science, either health-sci or life-sci or med-sci.

“And that's when Bobby realized that this life was going to change”-Narrator

Don’t get me wrong, I love science and everything it entails, but it was my experience with entrepreneurship (and Junior Achievement) that made me want to switch into Commerce.

Junior Achievement Team

In first-year I discovered what Enactus was, and I joined as a marketer. When provided the option of which presentation I wanted to present at regionals, I jumped for the opportunity to present the Legacy Conference in the entrepreneurship category. Enactus taught me social entrepreneurship and made me realize that if I wanted an unpredictable yet exciting and rewarding life, it had to have been somewhere in entrepreneurship.

Enactus Team

This led me to where I am today; at a biotech start-up utilizing my personal skills and experiences to help grow a business selling a niche product to different cell labs across the globe. Maybe about once a day I ask myself “did I do a lot today? did I achieve something today? What are my next steps from this point onwards”. But when I ask myself “was there potentially any other co-op position that I sacrificed to get here?” the answer is “probably. But I definitely don't regret it”. “I get to work at IO!!” I tell people as they ask me about my placement. I’ve grown a passion for entrepreneurship and because of this opportunity that RBC provided me, I get to work at one of Ottawa’s most innovative accelerator hubs for start-ups. I get the opportunity to meet other startups and learn from them, as well as learn from my team at Incuvers.


First Week at Work

May 1st, 2019

At this point, before coming in, I had already met with the guys at Incuvers a few times. Here and there to catch me up on what's happening, what has been changing, and how I can anticipate my workload once I start.

On the first day, I walked in super excited! Scanned my pass at the door and I felt so cool. Do you know how I knew this was the best place for me? Because I got excited over a key pass working on a door. That and also because I get 2 free coffees a day!

I got to meet the team of 6 people and on the first day, and I didn’t leave work at 4pm or 5pm. No, this isn’t a corporate 9–5 job, this is a start-up, things change by the minute. The day did not end with me catching a bus home, but with me tagging along with the team to a pitch competition in Quebec.

We went over to UQO and I got to watch other startups present alongside our CEO Sebastian. More importantly, I was there with my camera to take some photos so that our business would have an abundance of content that we could use later for marketing.

Seb and Noah at UQO for StartupFest

So I work at Incuvers doing marketing, and so does my supervisor, Noah. We work very well together, and everyone is super informal with the way they dress and communicate, I’d consider it a very freestyle environment. One where I can see myself huddled here after hours doing whatever work I have leftover from school.

At this placement, I’m able to utilize all the hard skills I have such as digital design, photography, and videography while continuing to build upon other skills like marketing strategy, marketing automation, and sales.

The nature of the work itself also gives me identity which fulfils my job satisfaction. The photos I take get posted on social media, the graphics I make get printed on the pamphlets, and currently, you can see my face next to Noah’s on the company website. Every day I’m facing new challenges that impact my growth and I am ready for it. I’m ready because the work, workplace, and team all collectively motivate me.

So what have I done/learned so far? I got my feet wet with using HubSpot for cold emails, I’ve learned A LOT about cell culture and the industry, I’ve learned a decent amount regarding competitors, I’ve completed a brand review of the company, and I’ve learned lean-startup model alongside Design-Thinking and Business Model Canvas. Currently, I’m working on finalizing merchandise order for our team, and tomorrow I’m going over to a client’s lab at the Roger Guidon Hall to take some photos and videos of the product at work.

The informal and constantly varying nature of the job is what motivates me to put in the effort and to perform well. One of the things I learned about design was that you can create 5 different versions of the end product all based on the information your client gave you, and at the end of the day, the client can scrap it all. The pamphlet that I created was actually version 7 of 6 other attempts prior. It was long, but from that process alone, I got to further understand what my team envisions in their marketing materials.

The Front of the Pamphlet I Designed!

Before we leave off here, the last thing I want to share is how the company culture is shaped around collaborative productivity. Since the team is small, everyone is in the loop regarding everything and because of this, we always share input on what is good and what isn't. The culture of the workplace allows me to speak freely about what I like and don’t like, and that is something that I personally and sincerely appreciate!

Incuvers Team

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