My start-up Boogaloo Bunks is solving the issues of privacy, comfort and security in shared sleeping spaces. We accomplish this through our product that instantly transforms any bed into a personal private pod.
With any startup, there really are no two days alike, and our team constantly blurs the lines between focusing on what needs to get done, and how we can move as quickly as possible. My co-founder Caleb and I both lived at Conrad Grebel in our first year at UWaterloo and had the opportunity to do terms in Europe. During our times in Germany and Spain, we did a lot of backpacking and stayed in hostels, and upon our return home, Caleb had an idea for a privacy curtain for bunk beds, and got in touch with me.
With my Mechanical Engineering background and love of travel, we quickly connected, co-founded the company in February of 2014, and began work on preliminary designs throughout the summer. During my terms abroad, I had the luxury of experiencing the world of engineering from different angles. Seeing what top companies in the world do well, and what they don’t do so well, was an excellent way to gain experience on how to run a company of your own. The start-up path wasn’t immediately obvious to me, but now that I have worked for a few and founded my own, there is no way I could go back.
During my time at Waterloo, there were three big influencers: Co-op, Fourth Year Design Project and Velocity. Graduating with 2 years of work experience is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It taught me most importantly the things I didn’t want to do after graduation. Experiencing this early on is a rare opportunity, unique to Waterloo. When our preliminary prototype was approved for our Fourth Year Design Project, we worked on it full-time for 8 months and integrated a software check-in system, a comprehensive security system, and built a completed mechanical prototype. This course gives students the opportunity to take on a project worthy of their talents, and in many cases, as big as their dreams. Courses like this make an education at Waterloo truly world-class. Lastly, the Velocity program has been an irreplaceable resource. From providing workspace and tools, to offering countless resources and mentors, while being in a community that supports one another, Velocity has exceeded our expectations. They took us in as two young kids with an idea, and have transformed us into a business.
I have three points of advice for graduates. First, work for a start-up. Great start-ups are always looking for top-class talent, and Waterloo is absolutely crammed full of both. I believe you can learn more at a start-up than a big company. Secondly, read everything. There are many people smarter than you, and lucky enough, some have even written books. The smartest people read at least a book a week, so if you want to keep up with our quickly changing world, you better do the same. Lastly, dream bigger. Canadians in particular are terrible at this. Shoot for the stars, and if you burn out, go out with a bang. Dream big. Then scrap that idea, and dream bigger.
I believe there are definite advantages to staying connected to UWaterloo after graduation. We have fantastic resources for alumni; take advantage of that. Graduating from one of the top universities in Canada, you are now part of a very elite group of people. You fall into the same category as some of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech, business, financial, marketing, and consulting industries. The University of Waterloo is a name that carries a huge amount of weight and is something I think every UWaterloo grad should shamelessly flaunt. Be proud of your school, the hard work you put in to get to where you are, and what it means to be a Waterloo Alumnus.