‘AN ENVIRONMENT OF INNOVATION’

BY BOOK SADPRASID

Kolton Gagnon was on a break between classes when his brother, Keelen, called to ask if he would be interested in helping out with a class project for the Technology Management and Entrepreneurship Program at the University of New Brunswick.

That class project later became a startup company, called SimpTek Technologies, that helps utilities and homeowners save energy. At the time, Kolton didn’t know he would fall into a job that fits his personality.

“Working for a startup is different from working with big corporations, and something about that attracts young people like myself to start a career in startup,” he says. “Working in a startup allows you to be yourself. You are allowed to let your creativity drive you. You can work toward the goals in whichever ways you wish. . . It’s an environment of innovation.”

After Kolton finished his third year at UNB, he decided to take a break from his computer science degree and focus on his role as the lead developer at SimpTek.

The 22-year-old CTO says “it’s like I have opened the door of never ending learning, never ending opportunities to develop, to gain knowledge in my field and even outside of my field.”

Michael Rurka, a freelance designer who has worked for many startups, says said that the opportunities to learn in startups is what attracted him.

“You are not an expert but you have to be. It’s this constant pressure to learn everything. As a designer, I leaned coding, I learned marketing, I learn business stuff,” Rurka says.

Erin Flood, the chief operation officer of at Hotspot Parking, says she would rather take on big challenges that would come while working for a startup than working in an established corporation where the pay might be better.

“I am not a money driven person,” Flood says. “The education that I have gotten all these years is unmatched by any that an educational institution can provide. That would come nowhere in comparison to a pay cheque to me.”

Kolton Gagnon and Flood also say they find the work in startup attractive because of the team.

“You rely on your team so much for work and sometimes for millions other things,” Kolton says. “In startup, you work with your team like you live with you team. . . There is no startup without a teamwork.”

He says that working for a startup is not “for everyone. You need to have a certain type of personality to actually like these types of jobs.”

Flood says many people misunderstand the definition of startup work, because media only shine the light on the fun side of startup.

Flood said it’s good that young people are interested in innovation and pursuing their dreams, but most don’t consider the disadvantage of startup work.

“The emotional mental trail that you have to go though in doing so it is not fun. You need to be considerate and aware that you are here to build a business for whatever purpose. It’s going to take a lot of stamina,” Flood says. “The work feels like we are constantly running this marathon that’s never ending.”