I run a tech company called Binary Tattoo that teaches people about Internet Safety and Digital Identity creation.I am an internet safety expert and an electrical engineer. I love tech, and with over 12 years of technical design and leadership experience at RIM, I learned that tech loves me back. Mostly. I am also a parent. Concerned about how to help guide my kids in a digital world, I founded Binary Tattoo, a company whose mission is to educate and empower people with the knowledge on how to use the internet and social networks so that they can create positive identities, maximize their experience, and stay safe. I have spoken to tens of thousands of people, from students to companies, about the pluses and perils of being online. I have also appeared at trade shows, on TV & radio shows, and in national publications as an online identity expert. In the fall we are thrilled to release our tool to help people uncover, and correct, their online identities. Although we cannot predict the future of technology, we can arm our kids, and ourselves, with knowledge to help make better choices and help navigate this new world.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I had worked corporate for 12 years in the tech industry. Although I loved the people that I worked with and the products we made, the hours and intensity of the work were not conducive to the time I wanted to spend with my young kids.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
It's very hard to go from a big company to working for yourself. First, there is the obvious, of going from a steady paycheque to the uncertainty of your next payment. It's definitely a risk and you need to make sure you are willing to hold out for the worst case scenario you can account for, and be comfortable with that. Second, running your own business means you suddenly have to play every role. It can be a steep learning curve. I used a lot of local services that are offered for start-ups to learn about incorporation, accounting, and marketing. All tools I had not had to use before.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family has always been very supportive. There was never contention though working from home does illicit comments from traditional people who assume you are not "really working" if you are not in an office. I foresee this will change as more people take to working remotely.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Stay married to the idea, not the solution. Too many entrepreneurs want to solve a problem and assume they know how others want it solved. You need to be open to how your customers want the solution and continue to improve based on that feedback.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
It's a rollercoaster. Some days are amazing and everything validates your choices. Some days things seems insurmountable. This is common to the entrepreneurial journey and you need to hang in there.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Being an entrepreneur may seem glamorous because you can make your own hours and call the shots. Know it is not an easy journey. I do alter hours that work for me but I end up working extremely hard. It can take years to make money - most start-ups are 3 years to break even. And you need to do jobs that may not be your favourite (ex taxes, administration). BUT if you are passionate about your idea and it brings you joy to work on it, it is very rewarding and totally worth it.