This is part of the Canada's Future Tech Superstars feature. Click here for the original story.
While Ryerson's Digital Media Zone brings people with different educational backgrounds together in the name of entrepreneurism, there's more to a thriving team than a balanced set of skills. Balanced personalities are also important.
An example of a young company that formed without the aid of an incubator like DMZ is Simply Good Technologies, a company launched in 2008 that compiles analytics about online coupon sales for various companies, mostly retailers. Run by partners Winston Mok, Ambrose Choy, and David Man, the three friends are all computer engineer grads from the University of Waterloo, and worked at RIM together.
Mok says he had great career growth at RIM, but knew he wanted to work with Choy and Man beyond RIM because they had that special kind of energy together. He added, It's funny, we're polar opposites in many ways. We like to do a lot of things together, but we're very opposite in the way we work.
Mok says he's more of the extrovert and drives the vision, while Ambrose is more thoughtful about what will sustain the business and how the company will compete. But numbers can affect dynamics as well. Before Man joined the Simply Good team, it was just the two co-founders who were key decision makers, leaving room for deadlocks in some situations. You see it a lot with two co-founders, explains Mok, either one (founder) is dominant while the other's not, if you set it up like that. ... But if I'm thinking one way and somebody's thinking another, having a third person is very important.
Man joined the company in 2009, providing the team with a swing vote. He's more in the middle ground, with a tendency toward innovation and moving quickly sometimes, but also holds reservations in some situations.
By balancing personalities and a dedication to self-taught business skills, the Simply Good Technologies team has been able to successfully grow their company. But Mok stresses to budding entrepreneurs the importance of building a network outside your comfort zone, outside your network. He encourages young tech people to attend business events, and vice versa. Business and tech folks often do mesh well together, but there's a chemistry that has to occur.