Meet Stephanie, a student attending the University of Calgary out to change the face of how we thinking about a weekend camping experience. She is one of the co-founders of Eco-LOGic and no stranger to pitching her company on stage. She recently was selected as one of the finalists for the RBC Fast Pitch Competition hosted at the Haskayne school of business at the University of Calgary. Top entrepreneurs from the University pitched their businesses for cash and prizes.
We caught up with Stephanie and asked her a couple of questions about her experience so far…
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the program you are enrolled in at university? Why did you choose it, and what do you hope to do after graduating?
At first, I was enrolled in the class because it was a required class to take at the University of Calgary. But after taking the class, I can see why it is, as it teaches great things to not only start a business but also to use in any another project at school or in many other situations.
Q: What has your entrepreneurship course(s) taught you?
It taught me to get out of my desk and go talk to people. Not everything can be done through the Internet, the best source for research is primary data which comes from interviews, focus groups and just talking to people.
Q: Tell us about your entrepreneurial venture. What was the problem you were trying to solve?
The problem that eco-LOGic is trying to solve is deforestation, which came from our combined passion of being outdoors as well as create a greener future for our selves. Essentially, our product is the Smart Log and it is a fire wood alternative made of recycled paper mixed with water then compressed and dried.
“I think I have always been interested [in entrepreneurship] but I never knew it until recently. I say this because I wanted to be like my father and grandfather who ran their own business, but I never really saw it as entrepreneurship until I took the class at university.”
Q: What was the spark that inspired the idea for this project? What steps did you have to take (or are taking) to make it a reality?
As previously mentioned, this idea came from our combined passion for the environment and the outdoors as well as a brighter and greener future. This happened to connecting with one another, talking about our interests, hobbies, and likes/dislikes.
Q: Did you enjoy the pitch experience? What was the best part/highlight of the experience? (either in preparation, or on the day of the competition)
I did enjoy the pitch experience. It was nothing like I had ever done before. I believe everyone should try it once in his or her life, it helps you to present to a bunch of strangers about an idea you are passionate about and that’s something you wont be able to do very often.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you/your team as an entrepreneur?
We didn’t so much have an issue with coming up with ideas, we were pretty good at that, but I think it was agreeing on an idea that we all liked and believed in,
Q: What advice would you give to youth who are interested in entrepreneurship?
Don’t be afraid, sometimes the craziest ideas are the best ones. People tend to build off your idea. The only mistake you can do is not trying.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your background (education, past ventures and experiences). What are some of your interests?
My father is from Belgium and my mother is from Quebec. I was born in Montreal but lived most of my life in Calgary. I have always been surrounded by entrepreneurs, my father owns his own company in the coal industry, my grandfather started his own shoe store in Belgium, my aunt has her own hair salon, my mom tutors at home (like a mini business), and even my younger brother had his own little snow shoveling business. I have not yet had my opportunity to do as my family has done, but I hope one day to be like them. As a family, we love to travel around therefore I have been to many places. I went to a francophone school from kindergarten until grade 9, went to an catholic school in downtown Calgary, and now I am at the University of Calgary.
Q: Have you always been interested in entrepreneurship? If not, when did you first become interested, and how did you get involved in the field?
I think I have always been interested but I never knew it until recently. I say this because I wanted to be like my father and grandfather who ran their own business, but I never really saw it as entrepreneurship until I took the class at university.
Q: Do you think entrepreneurial spirit is important in the world today? Why/why not?
Yes, this is how the world progresses. If we didn’t have entrepreneurs then we would have all the technology and objects we have today.
Q: What do you think our world would be like if we did not teach entrepreneurial spirit to young people in school?
I think we would not be as advanced as we are today. With entrepreneurial spirit we can grow and do some good in the world with new innovations.
Q: If you could travel back in time and tell yourself anything about your experiences, what would it be?
I would tell myself to take chances and to try and think creatively from a younger age. I would try to start my own lemonade stand or my own bracelet business to get that experience from an earlier age.