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Since Ray Reddy graduated from the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program in 2005, a lot has changed. He has built two startups from the ground up: his first startup, PushLife, was acquired by Google in 2011, and his second, Ritual, was recently named the Top Mobile App at the TechVibes Canadian Startup Awards. MBET has changed as well, expanding its faculty, moving across campus, and growing along with the thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurial support in Waterloo.
What hasn't changed, though, is the energy inside the classroom: the curiosity students share about new technologies and their impact, their ambition to make new things happen, and their eagerness to learn from those who have experienced the entrepreneurial journey firsthand.
It's what drew Ray to MBET in the first place, after completing his undergraduate education in computer science at UWaterloo. In an interview with Now Magazine, he explained:
Where MBET is different is in the people it attracts. You get to be in a class with other entrepreneurial-minded folks, and that makes a big difference.
It's also what drew him back to the MBET classroom last month to share expertise as an invited guest. In the informal Q&A session with students, Ray shared insights that he has developed from his experiences building two successful startups and leading teams at BlackBerry and Google.
Some of his key takeaways:
Your team is your single biggest asset
Ideas change, but the founding team is the bedrock upon which any successful startup is built. The ideal founding team has the skills to execute on the businesses' key activities themselves. In a tech startup, this means you need one technical person who can build the product, and one person who can tell the story, and a third person who can act as a jack of all trades.
Set your goals high
It is just as hard to build a medium-sized company as it is to build a large company; both are really hard. But investors and team members are attracted to companies that aim to do something big.
Learn to listen to your own opinions
In the world of tech, there are a lot of trends, opinions, and distractions. To separate signal from noise, you have to get in the habit of forming your own opinion. When you read an article, opinion piece, or news—take a moment to ask yourself, "do I agree with this?" (Try it right now!) This practice will help you develop your critical eye and ultimately make better decisions as an entrepreneur.