Recap: Women in Entrepreneurship

On Thursday, January 27, 2017 the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship hosted two speakers for our event about Women in Entrepreneurship.

We began our event with Maher Ayari, President of the Dobson Student Executive Team, introducing our first speaker Tara Akhavan, CEO of IRYStec.

Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2014 where after a conversation with Helge Seetzen, CEO of TandemLanuch at an incubator in Vienna, she decided to move Montreal to join TandemLanuch and build her own company in the hi-tech industry.

Today, after immense research and development into digital processing technology, conversations with investors and expansion of the team, IRYStec is a fully functioning company that aims to improve digital viewing experience across all electronic devices.

Tara Akhavan, CEO of IRYStec. speaking during the Women in Entrepreneurship event – January 27, 2017

Our next speaker was Andrea Courey, founder of Grandma Emily’s Granola. Her journey began in 1997 when she took her homemade granola bars to a brunch and she came back from that brunch with an order for granola bars for 1000 people. Soon enough, she was receiving more orders for more people.

As her business kept growing, Andrea continued to receive orders not only from her regular customers but also from some of the top chefs in Montreal. While growing her business, Andrea had the opportunity to get input from some of these top chefs in creating more variety of granola bars. In 2015, Andrea sold her company and decided to use her time to become a writer.  

Andrea Courey, founder of Grandma Emily’s Granola founder, speaking during the Women in Entrepreneurship event – January 27, 2017

Tara Akhavan and Andrea Courey both shared valuable insights and lessons they learnt so far in their entrepreneurial journey. Some tended to resonate with women in particular but can be applicable for all entrepreneurs at any level.  

  1. If you receive rudeness, it’s never about you: Both of our speakers shared their own experiences of not being taken seriously because they were women, with some people mistaking them for the secretary instead of believing that they were both the CEOs of their own companies. Their advice was that when someone behaves like this let it go and move on to a person that will accept and value you and your company.
  2. Nothing comes without a cost: Tara expanded on this by saying that throughout your journey as an entrepreneur, you will have to compromise and sacrifice some parts of your life to make your company work, whether that be family, friends, or free time. Be prepared for those tough decisions and risks that you will have to take.  
  3. Self-awareness is key: As an entrepreneur, you need to know your limits and your strengths. You need to find people to be on your team that complement your skills and help you with aspects of the business that are beyond your expertise.
  4. Self-doubt is the enemy: The obstacle you will face in entrepreneurship and life, as Andrea said, is self-doubt. You need to acknowledge that self-doubt but you need to also continue with your idea and vision anyways.
  5. No means yes: When a customer says ‘no’ to your service or product, it means ‘no, for the time being.’ Andrea shared that one of her customers took 10 years to change the ‘no’ to a ‘yes’. Don’t take a no as permanent rejection, it most probably is a temporary one.
  6. Be pro-found: There might be obstacles and there will be multiple and different problems that you will be faced with but you need to be open and aware to finding the pros in your entrepreneurial journey.

We ended our event with a Q&A period along with a networking session.

Q&A period during the Women in Entrepreneurship event – January 27, 2017

Don’t miss out on our weekly events and our mentoring hours for early stage start-ups and later stage start-ups!

Sharanya Venkatesh

Sharanya Venkatesh is a U3 Geography and Social Entrepreneurship student at McGill University. Being a new member to The Dobson Chronicles team, she looks forward to learning more about the startup community at McGill and in Montreal.