YESocializing and ThoughtBasin held an entrepreneurship panel on Tuesday on the second floor of the Bronfman Building. YESocializing, a student-run initiative that connects aspiring student entrepreneurs with their more successful and experienced counterparts, brought in the founders and CEOs of several Montreal-based startup companies to share their advice and insights.
Six companies were represented: Tim Tokarsky, founder and CEO of Lighting Asset Management; Jamie Benizri, founder of Legal Logik Inc.; Aaron Ben Shabat, the CEO of SOS Tutoring; Ilan Saks, founder of TheFounderProject; Na’eem Adam, Co-Founder & President of Food Week Montreal Inc.; and Ethan Song, CEO and Co-Founder of Frank & Oak, an online male clothing store.
Tokarsky, a McGill Geophysics graduate, was the event’s keynote speaker. “Business is like a lottery,” he cautioned. “Someone is going to win and it probably won’t be you.” He explained that since competition is so fierce, being an innovative entrepreneur and coming up with original ideas is necessary to stand out of the crowd. This is one area where young entrepreneurs may have an advantage: “Little people can do a lot more than big companies because big companies cannot move quickly enough,” he advised. “They are often less innovative and may rely on startups for innovation.”
The panel addressed various questions about the speakers’ personal experience as entrepreneurs. Legal Logik’s Jamie Benizri advocated gaining experience in more traditional employment before going out on your own. “It is always better to learn on someone else’s dime,” he explained. SOS Tutoring’s Ben Shabat suggested that the two options are not mutually exclusive. “You can work for someone else and work on your project on your own hours,” he noted.
A question regarding sharing a business idea sparked considerable discussion. Many entrepreneurs worry that their “big” idea will be stolen, and are therefore hesitant to share it with other people. “You need to share ideas because you can only go so far by yourself,” commented Food Week Montreal’s Na’eem Adam. All of the panelists agreed that if you are confident in your idea then you should not be worried about sharing it with a partner.
“Trust your gut,” advised Shabat. “Go with it and whatever you do, put in 100 percent.” Tokarsky concluded with some parting advice: “Get out more and get in more. Really dive into the stuff that you are passionate about, but also get out more because that’s part of finding your inner-salesman.”
For more information about YESocializing, ThoughtBasin and the companies participating in the panel, see:
YESocializing – https://www.facebook.com/YESocializing
ThoughtBasin – https://www.facebook.com/ThoughtBasin
TheFounderProject – http://www.thefounderproject.com
Frank & Oak – http://www.frankandoak.com
Lighting Asset Management Partnership – http://www.lamproadway.com
SOS Tutoring – http://www.sostutoring.com
Food Week Montreal Inc. – http://www.poutineweekmtl.com
Legal Logik – http://www.legallogik.com/