I had no idea the kind of life I was about experience when I first started my own company in 1999. I didn’t know what the term ‘Entrepreneur’ was or that I can be one! For me, starting my own business was a way for me to push me past my comfort zone. I didn’t like the person I was. Shy and not expressive and felt limited in choices. While I had no real idea on how to build a business, I had a clear vision on the type of person I wanted to be and in 1999, I felt that in choosing this less travelled path, especially coming out of 5 years at Ryerson, would give me the best possible chance to live my purpose.
As an entrepreneur, I had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients. I tried to summarize some of the more memorable milestones here:
Proudest accomplishments over the last 20 years:
Sold over 20M in business!
Employed over 300 people, across mulitple skills and levels
Pivoted business models 3 times successfully!
Raised over 1M in private funding
Mentorning and growing employees
Deep relationship building with clients! (most of my clients stuck with me for over 5 years)
Helping other entrepreneurs successfuly launch and growth their business and themselves
I started a web design company called ‘ Spyder Design’ and our focus was to bring businesses into the digital world and online in this new thing called the ‘World Wide Web’. It was my first taste of the business world and I feel in love with it. Having the freedom to choose when and how I spent my time was addictive. For the first time, I was making decisions that mattered to me. The business ended when we all graduated and my co-founders moved on to get job.
I started NewAGE consulting with the hopes of continuing to help small businesses gain competitive advantages by using technology to improve all areas of their business. Fresh from school and a small window into small business challenges, I dove into consulting and problem solving. Over the next six year, I fell in love with digging into data, understanding a variety of business models, helping small businesses who lived close to the bankruptcy line by helping them WIN! We grew to over 30+ and we were getting some good market recognition. In 2004, I was awarded Young Entrepreneur and NewAGE won ‘Fastest growth company’ by Profit50.
I focused on understanding the full ecosystem of a business, its people, its customers and its finances. Over the next 6 years, we moved from small businesses to some of the larger players. Clients include CIBC, Winners, Lafarge and J&J. Our services also expanded to include websites, Ecom, ERP (SAP & JD EDWARDS), BI (COGNOS) and we also launched NewAGE Recruiting to help us staff better.
I wanted to change and try something new. Along with my business and digital strategy interests, I also wanted to get creative somehow. Most of our work with NewAGE was behind the scene and I was looking for a way to share my growing creative side. I sold the business to my partners and took some time out to live life.
- 2006 – the birth of desiFEST
I launched a not-for-profit called desiFEST. The purpose to enable creativity with the South Asian community and encourage more youth to get involved in music and arts. As an immigrant generation, the focus was very much on academic success .. and the expense of muting person creativity. I wanted to change that and I wanted to create a space for musicians and artists to shine. We found the BIGGEST stage possible .. Yonge-Dundas Square! We just celebrated our 11th year and we still have a ton of work to go.
- 2007 – the birth of BlueBand
After a short consulting gig with Pareto, I was introduced to the world of advertising. As timing would have it, the world of advertising was shifting fast! Social and Digital was becoming more and more relevant to clients and I found my niche in being the bridge. BlueBand was born! I had my purpose. To be build the ‘WORLD GREATEST DIGITAL AGENDCY’ and I wanted to help the people building great brands, use digital to connect, engage and convert customers. We wanted to see if “digital engagement’ can connect on an emotional level and connect with shoppers. We worked on some incredible brands, (TELUS, Canada Basketball, Cystic Fibrosis, Hain Celestial, Parmalat, FORD, Cadillac Fairview, TD, P&G, SAB Miller, Disney, PlayStation and more) with amazing clients and won some cool awards along the way.
The agency grew over the 10 years to be 40+ by our 9th year. We moved from digital to social, branding, content development and business strategy. here is a small list of the clients and partners I have worked with. My role as CEO was to innovate solutions that mattered to our clients. To help envision a future world and help to develop ideas and solutions before we get there. Our culture was in a constant state of ‘beta’. My leadership style found it groove and I enjoyed the blend of strategy and creative with all the work we were doing. I led projects that included web, mobile, VR/AR, branding, social media, branded content, client ecosystems, experiential solutions (touchscreen, wearables etc) and more.
- 2017 – the sale to Arrivals + Departures
We had an offer to sell from a long standing client; Arrivals + Departures. They are an awesome advertising agency and we have been working together for a few years. As our scope with them increased, it made sense to join forces. On November 1st, 2016, I sold BlueBand and join A+D as the new VP of Digital and Innovation.