Meet The 19-Year-Old Entrepreneur from Toronto Making A Dent On The Global Stage
Manu (Swish) Goswami is a 19 year old from Toronto, Canada who is currently studying at the University of Toronto. Swish has already made a dent in the global entrepreneurial landscape having been recognized as Startup Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and the “Face and Future of Canadian Entrepreneurship” by UPS Canada. He is currently focusing his energy on growing his wearable tech startup Technotronics (in partnership with NBA player Trevor Booker), RafikiMedia, The Next Foundry, and FoodShare.
For this piece, we took the time to chat with Swish about how his journey shaped him into the person and entrepreneur that he is today:
Q: What are some challenges you faced when developing your ventures, and how has your process changed since you were younger?
I faced several challenges in the process of developing my high impact ventures. These included being an immigrant, having a speech impediment, and just being a kid who always wanted to be at the adult table and do thing society attribute adults doing. I moved to Canada when I was 8 years old, and when I moved here I had to make new friends, go to a new school and just be in an entirely different environment. Beyond that, having a speech impediment made it hard for me initially to engage with people. This was not because I was ever bullied (I recognize bullying exists but am thankful it never happened to me due to the compassionate people around me), but I was scared to come out my shell and express myself. When I did however, which I was able to through competing on Canada’s national debate team for three years (representing my country at the World Championships twice — Grand Finalist in 2015, Semi Finalist in 2014), there was no stopping me. Lastly, I was an ambitious kid who always wanted to live out my adult life earlier than everyone else. It was mainly because I resented the idea that in order to build wealth and make an impact, I had to be of a certain age (I distinctly remember calling my Grade 8 teacher an “ageist”).
Beyond personal challenges, I have had difficulties in being credible when I asked forty and even fifty year old entrepreneurs to come onto my advisory board as a sixteen year old entrepreneur. I largely overcame this as I began to brand myself as a thought leader in entrepreneurship and along with that began to become recognized for my entrepreneurial achievement.
I do things differentially now in terms of my process in two key ways. Firstly, I have changed my perception on business. I used to never think of raising money before hiring as I thought it was not practical, but I have seen success raising money with a well thought out plan even before having a large team. Secondly, I used to think that I could not fund my own ventures and I always had to seek investment from others (institutional, accredited, angel investors). However now, I know I can self-fund my ventures by working part-time or saving up money I get from coaching debate (I use it to develop a prototype or minimum viable product for my business which spurs further investment).
Q: Having worked on a variety of different projects since you were younger I am sure you encountered failure multiple times. Have you developed any strategies to help combat the feelings of failure?
I love failure. I wish Joel Brown’s platform was actually called Addicted2Failure not Addicted2Success (of course I can see how the latter is more appealing). In my mind though, I have developed two main strategies to help combat the feelings of failure. Firstly (the cliche stuff), treat every failure as a lesson. It’s not just as simple as that, it’s knowing that regardless of how perfect your business plan is, you are bound to make mistakes in the entrepreneurial journey, and that the only thing you can control therefore is how you respond to those moments. Secondly, I always make sure to remember that the road I have picked despite how many failures they are, is a road I have picked for myself and the fact I am living life on my own terms at such a young age, brings me immense happiness.
Q: As an entrepreneur how important has flexibility been in developing your ventures?
If you can’t adapt you will lose. It’s as simple as that. The market changes everyday and the only way to keep up with it is by not building a business that is bent on keeping rigid practices and people. It’s important to recognize that your idea or vision for the company might change and that if it does, you need to commit the same amount of energy and effort to it. Note that Facebook was an accident that was started in the rooms of kids who wanted to initially build a system to rate girls. Note that Coca-Cola started out as cough syrup. Change is natural, the question is more are you going to embrace it or reject it and go down. A good example of this was when I started my social media agency. In order to improve sales we had to be flexible with the services we offered clients (not everyone wanted us just to build them graphics and take over their social media accounts). Now, we not only pride ourselves in doing social media management but working with celebrities and influencers on their brand management (acquiring book/speaking gigs, reaching out to talented people to do creative).
Q: What was was your spark in getting into entrepreneurship in general, where did it come from?
It came when I was 7 and wanted to make something with my father. He was an engineer and just like most parents wanted to see if his child wanted to do what he does. We decided to build a hovercraft together and in doing so, I learnt more about how to incorporate mechatronics with basic artificial intelligence. After building the hovercraft, I branded our company (HI-TECH AVIONICS LTD.) and found our first and only client. I sold the hovercraft for $200. When my father asked me how I liked the process after, I distinctly remember telling him how much I loved selling the hovercraft and what I was going to do with the money. My father who wanted to get me to love engineering, made me love sales and business instead.
4. What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?
Staying focused is all about mindset. Whenever people ask me this question, I seriously am in awe because I feel like if you are diligent with your time (ie. don’t have a meeting if you don’t need a meeting), efficient with getting work done, and responsible to recognize your priorities, you shouldn’t have an issue balancing your life. I am obsessed with my calendar and immediately writing down engagements (I cannot risk forgetting to meet someone if I have committed to it and thus feel compelled to write it down immediately).
5. What is your best tip for entrepreneurs who are getting into the game?
Start somewhere. You can plan all you want, read as many books by Tony Robbins, watch all the Gary Vaynerchuk videos, but if you don’t act on the knowledge you’re learning, it’s absolutely useless. Too many people especially young entrepreneurs are more fascinated by the idea of calling themselves an entrepreneur and not as much with actually doing the job. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding if you find long hours working on your dream project fun. The only way to see if you’re cut out for it is by starting somewhere (so if you’re building a fool proof plan, drop it, there’s no way you won’t face mistakes in the future, it’s all part of the process).