Updated: Oct 15
October 14, 2020
Often thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated, and rewarded, entrepreneurs have the ability to innovate the way we live and work. If successful, these innovations have the potential to improve standards of living, and in addition to creating wealth, create jobs and add to a growing economy. This is part of the reason the topic of entrepreneurship is so heavily referred to in our programs and why we do our entrepreneurship highlights on DesignMakePlay. An entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take action is something we try to instill in all of our students.
So what is an entrepreneur? Often what comes to mind are images of the Mark Zuckerbergs and Elon Musks of the world who’s ventures have in many ways changed the way we live our lives. As defined in the dictionary, an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk involved.
What this definition fails to communicate about entrepreneurship is the action taken by people who want to take their career and dreams into their own hands, and lead it in the direction they envision. It involves building a life on your own terms, and having the freedom to be creative while doing so.
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled - Howard Stevenson, Harvard Business School
“Being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean running a billion dollar company or that you just started a tech setup and sold it for $500 million” stated Selin Gul, a young entrepreneur and guest on DesignMakePlay, “being an entrepreneur means you create something----you're aware of all the risks of creating something and do it anyway”.
Gul is a third-year marketing student and a young entrepreneur who in 2016 founded her company, Canacon Media. When questioned in regards to whether the entrepreneurial character she possesses is something she was born with, or rather something she grew into, she said: “I’ve definitely always been on the more entrepreneurial side of things because I’ve never had a “job”----everything I've ever done has always been on the self employed side of things”. As a youngster, Gul would purchase prepaid Visa gift cards at local department stores and use them to order iPhone or iPod cases from eBay. Subsequently, she would engage in arbitrage by soliciting these items to customers via her social media accounts and other online platforms.
“I would meet customers at the mall accompanied by my mother”, elaborated Gul, “I would buy these phone cases for maybe five or ten cents, and sell them to customers after marking them up to about $5.00----it made me happy, and the buyer was happy as well”.
It was at this point that Gul understood she would never be able to work a traditional job, instead preferring the route of doing things on her own, and building within herself. Fast forward to 2020, she operates her own agency where clients can find services related to all their digital marketing needs. From social media marketing to search engine optimization, and everything in between, Canacon Media’s got you covered.
Moving on, Gul is heavily involved in Capilano University’s Enactus Chapter. For those who are unaware what Enactus is, it is a global non-profit organization that exists in over 37 countries and involves over 72,000 students. Guided by faculty advisors and led by students, Enactus is a community of entrepreneurial leaders who see business as a way of addressing social issues. As Vice President of Corporate Relations, Gul is responsible for cultivating relationships with enterprises, and plays a key role in identifying challenges in our communities for the purpose of applying innovative solutions.
“Currently we have two projects going”, stated Gul, “the first of which being our Square One Project, which is basically just introducing financial literacy programs into high schools. We see a lack of financial literacy in high schools and this issue is something we are working hard to improve”. Enactus facilitates this project over the course of five interactive workshops that examine concepts related to banking, budgeting, savings and taxes, credit, and career development skills.
Gul mentioned that this is an issue prevalent across the North Shore and Greater Vancouver area, but the reality is that this concern spreads nationwide. A survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that a mere 61% of Canadians can correctly answer five out of of seven financial knowledge questions. Likewise, 53% of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. This matter needs to be addressed. Youth will only benefit from making better financial decisions at a young age, and our economy’s tomorrow is dependent on their decisions and well-being. This is why instilling in them competencies related to finance and business is crucial.
Beyond Square One, Enactus’s CapU chapter is also working on their U-Belong initiative, a project geared towards cultivating a greater sense of community on campus, and bringing light to resources students may not know exist.
Gul and her team competed at the 2020 Western Canada Enactus Canada Regional Exposition last February where they were awarded the opening round runner up for their work with Square One. “It was an insane experience”, Gul told DesignMakePlay, “I don't want to be cliche and say it was life changing, but never in my life have I given a presentation like that----I feel like I've acquired a new skill, and professional matters aside, I have built such strong relationships with every single person on that trip. Going into it I knew people's first and last names and now I feel like I know everything about them”.
Enactus CapU was poised to compete nationally in Toronto in May as a result of their success in regionals. Unfortunately, this trip had to be cancelled due to safety concerns related to Covid-19. When questioned in regards to how disappointing this was, Gul enumerated that yes, it was disappointing, but looking back, we have faced much worse as a global community. Putting things in perspective, the consequences of this pandemic run far deeper than a national competition being canceled. When you think about how many people are unemployed or have fallen ill due to factors outside their control----some have even lost loved ones----it is hard to stay upset over trivial matters like this. Nationals were held online, and Gul and her team were still able to compete regardless of travel restrictions.
To conclude our interview, we asked Gul if she had any advice related to entrepreneurship, being a student, and more generally how to keep your head above water in an uncertain climate. She responded by saying that as important as it is to grow your business as a young entrepreneur, do not forget to take time for yourself, and furthermore to nurture and maintain the interpersonal relationships that are so crucial to creating a healthy and happy life. Whether at community, workplace, school, or family levels, maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships with other people has been shown to improve psychological health and well-being. Conversely, lack of close, supportive relationships can lead to symptoms of burnout.
Full Interview on Youtube!