Written by: Chris Metler
Toronto has become a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development. And while some of the most dynamic figures in the landscape are taking wildly different approaches, they’re all looking damn good while doing it.
ABRAR SIDDIQUI & VINH NGUYEN
"To make our ambitious vision for commerce into a reality and build the type of robust tools needed, it was crucial to assemble the right team from the beginning."
According to Abrar Siddiqui and Vinh Nguyen—co-founders of mobile experience generator Lucova—their company was formed by a group of complete strangers. A collective who shared a common vision to leverage the powers of technology so they could bring back a sense of community and human connection to commerce. Think mom-and-pop shops, small town businesses, and neighbourhood hangouts. Places that could provide customers with a feeling of authenticity and personalization leading to true loyalty.
By arriving at these solutions, Lucova has been behind a few firsts in the market. They were the first to launch hands-free mobile payments, as well as introduce the element of selfies to complete the security components of their payment platform. And in order to make those tools work effectively, Lucova had to make it possible for multiple iOS and Android devices to talk to each other. It was an important technology challenge that they successfully overcame along with many others.
"For any professional organization, it's essential to showcase the right image. Somehow our tech industry is seen as a place where professional dress codes are ignored, but that's not always the case."
"Throughout the course of life —be it personal or professional —you have the chance to push your limits, experience new things, and constantly adapt. Challenging myself keeps me on the pulse. I love how that energy also fuels my team."
From heli-skiing in Whistler to learning how to fly an airplane to setting sail—when John Wilk sets his mind to something, he follows through. He's a man who prides himself on integrating a "try anything once" approach in life to the workplace at his Toronto-based digital agency: Climax Media, shortlisted in The Globe and Mail's "Great Places to Work in Canada 2016."
This is a well-deserved accolade for a team that started out with three people focusing on tech development to now over 40 employees as a full-service digital agency. In Wilk's opinion, a key lesson learned was the impact his lifestyle and ambition had on his staff. He consistently strives to build mutually beneficial relationships. This includes providing motivation and opportunities for growth, as well as a positive work environment fuelled by the desire to push the envelope and constantly challenge the status quo.
"I like the idea of a successful man dressing casual, confidently. I love sporting a blazer with denim. It's a dual combination that can transition from day to night. A blazer, Zanerobes, and sneakers... that's my look."
"Success is relative. I'm my own hardest critique. By following my passion to branch out as a solo entrepreneur after losing my job—and going from negative six figures to positive six figures in the bank in less than two years—it's definitely a sign of triumph."
As the creator and chief educator at Instagram powerhouse Wolf Millionaire Inc, the challenges of starting a business resonate deeply for Anthony Carbone. It ultimately comes down to having enough money saved to run the course of up to two years without income, the confidence in your idea and the abilities to execute to profitability, scaling and hiring and delegating tasks, plus securing appropriate mentors in your niche. But working as a solo entrepreneur without a partner is a rough roller coaster. As Carbone puts it, every ounce of stress is on your shoulders.
Today, what's evolved into Wolf Millionaire has become the world's leading authority on everything that is Instagram. During the last couple years, Carbone has spent more than 18 hours a day on Instagram performing over 10,000 controlled experiments through posting photos while observing every outcome. He has grown from one Instagram account with 700 followers to a network of 30 accounts with over 16+ million of them. In fact, his Instagram network is currently growing by more than a million followers every month. Carbone even recently launched a second company called WolfMillionaire.com, where he teaches people how to follow their passions, properly take or curate photos, grow their Instagram accounts, and make money like he has.
"I enjoy an edgy, casual business style; dressing the part whether going into the office or working from home. While I understand that the clothes don't make the man, I think representing myself and amplifying my image as a young entrepreneur from walk, talk, and looking the part have no doubt helped me prepare to secure some very big deals this past year."