By Katherine Hague (Marketing, ecobee)
It’s hard for me to believe it’s almost been 5 years since I attended my first entrepreneurship event through Impact in Canada. I had always been the kid setting up lemonade stands or trying to sell hand made greeting cards to unsuspecting teachers [looking back they were really terrible cards, my poor teachers!]. I knew that one day I wanted to start a company but I had no idea there were other people, even kids my age, out there trying to do the same thing.

After a couple of years of standing on the sidelines of startups, planning events, I decided I needed to get some hands on experience. I started working with a number of startups that my friends had founded and ultimately found myself as an independent consultant on digital media and marketing projects.

I stumbled into tech.

You can only spend so long in the startup world without realizing that it’s dominated by tech companies. I loved the fast pace of innovation, the people, and the idea of building something that could change the way people live their lives. I would stay up at night reading Jessica Livingston’s Founders at Work or any startup story I could get my hands on. One of my favorite founder stories is Tony Hsieh of Zappos. I even got to tour their office a couple years ago when I was in town for CES. Next time you’re in Las Vegas, skip the casinos and take the Zappos tour instead, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by great people. I never fail to be impressed by the projects and people that surround me.

Here in Toronto, whether it’s Startup Drinks, DemoCamp, BarCamp, Mesh, Girl Geek Dinners, Startup Weekend, Rails Pub Nite, SproutUp or Hacks and Hackers, there always seems to be something going on for startup founders and developers. It’s a close- knit community and everyone is always eager to help.

Programming was always this far away, intimidating concept.

As I began meeting more and more developers in my work and through my friends, I started to think…if they can understand it why can’t I?

I’ve slowly started dabbling in the basics of Ruby on Rails. I’m inspired by companies like 37signals and Shopify, both brilliant examples of the ‘less is more’ philosophy that makes Rails tick. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work with a talented friend to design a Shopify theme. I have a long way to go, and still find myself drawn to the marketing side of things, but programming is no longer something that intimidates me.

It’s no longer “someone else’s job” to help me determine what’s possible. My advice to any would-be non-technical founder is that you should learn enough code that it’s no longer scary. Your future developers and partners will respect you so much more if you make a sincere effort to meet them half way. Less talk, more action.

I’m always looking for the next challenge.

I was attracted to my current role at Toronto startup ecobee because of the company culture. Since joining the company I’ve become really interested in the future of the “Internet of Things” [my first Arduino arrived in the mail last week!]. I consider myself an aspiring entrepreneur because while I don’t know exactly what’s next for me, I know that when the time comes I’ll be starting a company. Like most founders, I want to build something that solves a real problem, and I want to create a company culture that inspires happiness for everyone involved. Once I’ve sold my first company maybe I’ll open my own incubator to support other young entrepreneurs. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the meantime, I’m taking my life one day at a time; listening to people talk about their problems, testing ideas as they come along, and looking for opportunities in niches everyone else is ignoring. I want to start a company that I can be passionate about and that passes due
diligence. While I’m by no means a particularly patient person, I’m not interested in starting something just for sake starting something. I think that the right opportunity might just be worth waiting for…

About the guest blogger: Katherine Hague is a 20 year old aspiring entrepreneur currently working as Marketing Manager at Toronto startup ecobee. She has a passion for technology and entrepreneurship and have spent the past fews years active in the Toronto Startup community, is long time member of the Impact Entrepreneurship Group and is now working as a business development and communications consultant. Katherine blogs at Follow her on Twitter at @KatherineHague.