“Last year, for our first list of 30 Under 30 innovators in Atlantic Canada, we defined innovation as the commercialization of creativity and stipulated that winners had to be founders of their own companies.
This year, we … redefined innovators as people turning their creativity and passion into a revenue stream, a slight but meaningful differentiation that opened the eligibility criteria to people whose ideas hadn’t yet achieved commercial success and/or were employed by someone else. Aside from that, our 30 Under 30 have to live in Atlantic Canada and they had to be 30 years or younger by the close of nominations last July.
The result is a diverse group of marketers, scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and advocates. Innovators… they may be hard to define but you know them when you see them.”Posted on November 9, 2020 | Atlantic Business Magazine | Full Article
This year Startup Zone was happy to see not one, but 4 of our Resident Companies on this list.
CHELSEY LAKE | Web Master
Chesley Lake is a team player. “Being an innovator means showing up as a leader, and boundary-pusher in all aspects of life,” she says. “I know I am nothing without my team, and the people I surround myself with. For me, it’s about creating a safe environment where people feel free to take risks, make mistakes, grow, and try big and small ideas.”
Lake, 30, is co-founder of GetBooking, an online health and wellness platform helping small and medium-size businesses increase sales, control appointments, and decrease no shows. She is also founder of Lake Design and Strategies, a website design and development company.
“I’m driven to challenge norms, and provide the resources and technology needed to help grow my team and business,” she adds. “My role as an innovator is to have a clear vision, value communication above everything, and be fearless and optimistic in the pursuit of my goals for the company, the staff, and myself.”
In 2019, Lake received a $25,000 Ignition Fund grant for entrepreneurs seeking startup capital for a new business venture. She benefited from the expertise available through Startup Zone, Prince Edward Island’s business incubator. Lake worked with clients to beta test the first version of GetBooking, then underwent a re-development stage to improve the platform for scalability.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Lake advises. “Believe in yourself and rely on your community. We see the person out in front of a business and sometimes we don’t realize there’s a team of people working behind the scenes.
“Family, friends, mentors, and other business owners have been incredibly supportive,” she says. “Being a woman in tech can be daunting. For any woman afraid to jump in, please know the support is out there, just go for it!” —By Connie Boland
IKECHUKWU DANIEL OHAEGBU | Bridge Builder
FOUNDER, ATLANTIC STUDENT DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE (ASDA)
Ikechukwu Daniel Ohaegbu (24) has a great laugh. Baritone. From deep in his chest. Honest. Infectious.
Defining yourself as an innovator is difficult, he laughs. “I never really planned to start any of the ventures we’ve started. Service, and serving the community, defines my work. I call it purpose, or grace to serve.”
Ohaegbu moved to Atlantic Canada in 2014 and studied psychology at University of Prince Edward Island. ASDA grew out of his honours thesis examining How Black African Men Thrive as International Students despite racialization, with a primary focus on international students in Canadian post-secondary. Founded in 2019, ASDA is a non-profit organization providing international students with soft skill/industry-based training, resources, and networks to help them transition into, and become active participants in, the labour market.
“International students face a lot of challenges,” Ohaegbu says. “There are labour market shortages, especially in Atlantic Canada, and employers are looking for graduates. We see skilled international students leaving programs, and cities, and working odd jobs even after they have a degree.”
ASDA aims to bridge the disconnection gap between employers and international students by providing employers with skilled and well-qualified candidates. Ohaegbu envisions expanding the alliance into Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s proven that diversity increases organizational development,” Ohaegbu adds. “We want to complement services that already exist and bridge the existing gap.”
Ohaegbu co-founded Overtime Entertainment in 2015 to create a diverse and inclusive space and connect newcomers and businesses through unique social events. He is director of marketing and community relations with Money Innovation Connecting Communities (MICC), a peer-to-peer lending platform, and an active community volunteer.
Innovators don’t solve problems on their own, he says. “A lot of work is done behind the scenes. I am grateful for my team, and for God giving me the grace and capacity to be in this position. This is my way of giving back.” —By Connie Boland
SARAH DONALD | Inclusive Fashionista
OWNER/OPERATOR, ISKO INTIMATES
Intimate wear should be as empowering as the person wearing it. “There’s a definite lack of inclusivity in this industry,” says Sarah Donald, 25. “It’s geared toward one societal ideal, and most of us don’t fit that.”
The inclusivity and self-love activist pours her passion for revolutionizing the self-love movement into Isko Intimates, which offers clients custom sizing. “The company is a bit of a black sheep in the fashion industry,” Donald says. “I’m passionate about helping others realize their beauty. Isko was created to celebrate and empower all bodies. Our unlined bralettes are made to honour and love every natural curve.”
Donald is building an online community that supports her brand, and her message. Through the Body Love Club, subscribers are invited to read blog posts, and respond to challenges. They are the first to learn of new products. Donald’s bralettes sell out quickly, and she’s expanding her line of intimate wear to include bodysuits and underwear. She recently signed local wholesale contracts.
“I was told there’s a reason other companies don’t make inclusive sizing, but I stuck to my guns, and it’s been amazing,” Donald says. “Women are thrilled to find lingerie that’s comfortable, and actually fits.”
“My background is neuroscience. It’s not related to business, or design,” she laughs. “I always said when I grew up, I was going to be a fashion designer.”
Innovators find a way to turn their passion to potential. “I’ve always been creative, but I felt pursuing my dream wasn’t realistic. I finally went for it this year. Believe in yourself, trust your intuition, practice self-love, and be inclusive,” Donald advises. “You have your entire life to try new things. Go for it.” —By Connie Boland
JONAH CHININGA | Socialpreneur
CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, MICC FINANCIAL
Socialpreneurs recognize a need and find ways to address it. They turn a profit while giving back to their community.
Jonah Chininga (26) arrived at UPEI from Zimbabwe eager to study business management, experience the island’s multicultural environment and enjoy its quality of life. What happened next paved the way for a business model that’s helping people become financially sound and start building wealth.
“Coming from a different economy, I lacked clarity over how finances work, the cost of items, and gaining employment,” Chininga says. “When I did gain employment, I quickly understood I had no access to affordable credit. I needed help with financial planning.”
In 2019, Chininga attended Youth Assembly, a leadership conference that cultivates a global network of young leaders. Inspired by the dialogue, Chininga and three business partners investigated digital finance, including rotational savings. Popular in developing regions, such as Africa and the Middle East, the concept encourages group participation, people pooling their savings into a common fund and taking turns borrowing the money without paying interest. “We determined rotational savings would solve a common problem,” Chininga says.
Money and Innovation Connecting Communities (MICC) was founded in January 2020 to improve access to credit in underserved communities. An IOS, Android, and web App were lunched this fall. Users create an account, link their bank, and invite friends and family to pool their money.
Chininga used rotational savings to pay off credit card debt. And he drew on shared living experiences, determination and passion to make MICC a reality for others. “Our mission is to improve the financial well-being of our peers through collaboration and accountability, because we are all better off when we’re collaborating together,” he says. “Money affects everything in our lives. If money is not taken care of, nothing is taken care of.” —By Connie Boland