As children, some of us have pretty interesting ideas about what we’ll do or who we’ll be when we grow up. Many of us are shaped by adults around us or through books, television and stories. As a kid, I wanted to be a children’s author just like my favorite at the time, Robert Munsch. Now as an adult, I tell stories through marketing. Here, I’ve rounded up some interesting backstories from other entrepreneurs to share what they wanted to be and how that may have translated to what they’re doing now.

Photo of girl looking out in the distance by Edi Libedinsky

Photo by Edi Libedinsky

Sarah Daniele, Co-Founder and CEO of Mydoma Inc.

Entrepreneur Stories: Sarah Daniele, Co-Founder and CEO of Mydoma Inc.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have one distinct childhood memory of what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was around the age of 10 my best friend and I were DIY-ing a mesh ceiling bed canopy. A design that we made with ”S” hooks, fishing line, dowels. thinking back it was pretty cool for our age. Anyway, it was during that day we discussed what we wanted to be when we grew up. She said she wanted to be an interior designer. I said I wanted to be an architect, because they are “better”. Luckily I learned early on that no one creative profession is better than the other. Which is good, because I would have a been a terrible architect, but my attention to space, balance and detail helped me very much in my eventual career as an interior designer.

What are you doing now? What motivated you to start your business?

Today I am the CEO/ co-founder of a software company called Mydoma Studio. We specialize in client and project management software for the interior design industry. My motivation to start Mydoma Studio was a result of compounding experiences. The first was being laid off from my design job. The second was feeling the frustrations of running my own small design business. Managing all the moving pieces was challenging and I needed a software to help. I researched and was unable to find a solution that met my needs, so I opted to build one. Fast forward four years and Mydoma Studio was born!

Any similarities or connections between your childhood dreams and your present?

Yes! I did study and become and interior designer. During my time as a designer I specialized in kitchens, bathrooms and custom cabinetry. I loved it. Although I no longer do design work, I work with interior designers every day. We build software that enables them to grow their businesses and do what they love.

What do you love most about what you’re doing now?

I especially love meeting and presenting to designers. It gives me so much joy to share our product, hear their stories and know we’re making the a real difference in how they run their businesses.

 

Varun Sharma, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at RealtyConversion

Entrepreneur Stories: Varun Sharma, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at RealtyConversion

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a kid, I used to dream of opening my own arcade – I thought owning something like Playdium would be the best business in the world. As I grew older, I used to watch how shops and restaurants that we’d frequent were run and was always attracted to the idea of entrepreneurship. In the 7th grade, I started purchasing small PSP/iPod accessories and Mini Bikes to advertise as deals to my contacts on MSN Messenger – “[Msg Me For 49CC Pocket Bikes $299]”. That was my first digital venture.

What are you doing now? What motivated you to start your business?

I’m currently leading our marketing team as a Co-Founder at RealtyConversion.com. We help realtors generate qualified appointments (not leads) through a combined expertise in inside sales and digital marketing.

I grew up in a family of realtors and investors and was driven to get my real estate license when I turned 18. In my professional experience, I’ve led digital marketing teams and strategy for billion-dollar brands and was ultimately fascinated with the challenge of taking strategies from million-dollar campaigns and applying them to thousand-dollar accounts.

Any similarities or connections between your childhood dreams and your present?

Well, I think I’m having more fun than I would be managing an arcade! And I still do digital marketing; instead of MSN Messenger, we optimize Customer Journeys, Paid Search, and Web Design. The goal is to always keep your customers happy and ensure they’re having a great experience – that definitely remains consistent.

What do you love most about what you’re doing now?

I’ve had a strong desire for building truly intelligent customer journeys which can trigger communication or advertising based upon the customer’s buyer stage, preferred channel or an umpteenth characteristic. We’ve implemented a first round of intelligent lead scoring for our clients implementing our marketing journeys – the leads change scores based on a number of different types of content engagement. 

I enjoy the privilege of leading our marketing efforts at RealtyConversion.com and growing client businesses. We take a lot of pride in every appointment we generate and every deal our client’s close.

 

Glenn Schmelzle, Founder and VP Lead Generation at Marketing What’s New

Entrepreneur Stories: Glenn Schmelzle, Founder and VP Lead Generation at Marketing What’s New

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I originally thought I wanted to be a translator, because I liked languages. I had no inkling I could start a business; it didn’t occur to me as a kid that one could actually do that.

What started me on a path towards marketing was doing yearbook in high school. I learned what’s known today as User Experience (design, layout, and messaging), and that people will respond to it when it’s done well.

As a kid I started reading and collecting reference books. When I’d filled up my shelves, I persuaded my mom to surrender her linen closet where I could store the overflow of books. I loved being able to solve something by laying my hands on the data. Personal computers came along when I was teenager; I used mine to connect to online forums and resources. I loved how much more information was available thanks to technology. After graduating, the marketing jobs I went after were in IT-related fields.

What are you doing now? What motivated you to start your business?

I started a digital agency focused on generating leads. This came after being a corporate marketer, during a time where the Internet started disrupting old-school methods; the results from trade shows and direct mail campaigns were getting worse and worse. The last company I worked for did such a poor job of generating leads with its traditional marketing, it went bankrupt. That convinced me that the average company had to get better at using the Internet for marketing. I had an idea that traffic and visitor data from a website held the clue to finding out what marketing would work. If I researched hard enough and was scientific enough about it (just as I’d been with data as a teenager), the data would point to the answer.

Any similarities or connections between your childhood dreams and your present?

This way of solving problems by analyzing information/data is something I use everyday. I still operate on the belief that if you could lay your hands on the data on something, you could succeed at it.

What do you love most about what you’re doing now?

I like seeing trends in traffic & website data and trying to describe it’s impact in real business terms. I feel I ended up being a translator after all, between non-technical people who know business and our highly-technical team who know the marketing tools. I get pumped about the enormous potential today’s technology makes possible, which is why I make efforts to write and podcast about it.

 

Dr. Lindy Ledohowski, Co-Founder & CEO of EssayJack

Entrepreneur Stories: Co-Founder and CEO of Essay Jack, Lindy Ledohowski

Corporate Photography | Samantha Yong Photography

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had two very serious desires for my adult life. I wanted to be a doctor – a paediatrician to be precise – and I wanted to be an author. I really thought that I’d be able to learn enough and save children from cancer and be a bit of a hero. As I grew older and the blood and guts of med school became apparent to me, the lustre faded a bit. As for authorship, I was always writing stories as a child. I made up stories and games for myself and my siblings. When they outgrew me, I made up stories and games for the children I babysat. And then when they outgrew me, I wrote poetry, and then did various English degrees, writing a dissertation, peer reviewed scholarship, and a scholarly book. I suppose you can say I added these two goals together by becoming a doctor of books!

What are you doing now? What motivated you to start your business?

Right now I am the CEO of a company – EssayJack Inc. – that I co-founded. Our key product – the EssayJack platform – is available in schools, colleges, and universities on a bulk licensing model to help educators teach academic writing, and to help students improve. A version is available for individual students not in an EssayJack institution who want to improve their writing. They just can submit to their teachers for grades! We have distribution across Canada, and EssayJack is now being used in schools, colleges, and universities throughout Asia, and we’ve got individual subscribers all over the world. I was motivated to start this business based on my experiences as an English educator. Teaching at both the high school and university levels, I saw that students often have really great thoughts and ideas, but they don’t know how to structure them as academic prose: enter EssayJack!

Any similarities or connections between your childhood dreams and your present?

I suppose so! When I ran into one of my childhood friends a little while ago, and we talked about my PhD, she said “well, you always said you’d be a doctor!” And a book that I co-edited for the University of Toronto Press won a nation-wide literary prize this year, and when that happened, another childhood friend said “I always knew you’d be a published author!” And more succinctly, many of my childhood friends upon learning that I’ve become a tech CEO or startup co-founder recognize that I’ve always had lofty ambitions and been driven towards success, so the fact that my current position is one heading an EdTech company that I co-founded based on my expertise, sweat equity, knowledge base, and hard work, isn’t really surprising to anyone who knows me. While I certainly didn’t dream about business as a child, I did dream about the written word and helping people, and that is the core of what I do now as an entrepreneur.

What do you love most about what you’re doing now?

I love that I get to translate my scholarly, academic, pedagogical, and literary passions into interesting technological innovations that can touch millions of people all around the world. Instead of being a creative writer, I get to be a creator of technology that still grows out of my passion for the power of the English language. I have long believed that if people can master the skill of critical thinking and writing, then they have a superpower that allows them to make sense of the world around them – analyze and critique fake news, parse tweets, weed through good/bad blogs, etc. and respond accordingly – and that, to me, is the highest gift that I can offer people. If this business can come even close to achieving that vision, then I’m happy.

 

Alicia Ward

Digital Marketing Strategist / Token Canadian

Our resident math nerd and millennial cat lady, Alicia is the keeper of all the magical marketing tricks that get your business seen by the right people at the right place in time.