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Entrepreneur's gift a first for Waterloo's StartUp Pledge

Alexander Rink and his family at breakfast with Feridun Hamdullahpur

Alexander Rink (right) and his family meet with University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur in Ottawa.

By Carrie Gabla, Office of Advancement

Alexander Rink (BASc ’91) has been an entrepreneur for more than 15 years.

As a self-described “serial Internet entrepreneur”, he co-founded and led two Internet startups to profitability, and was most recently the CEO of 360pi, which provides large and mid-size retailers with tools to help them stay price-competitive. When 360pi was acquired by Market Track in April of this year, Rink stayed on to assist the company through the integration and recently accepted the role of EVP, Corporate and Business Development at Market Track.

When the StartUp Pledge program launched in November of last year, Rink thought it was a great idea and immediately signed on.  When the acquisition of 360pi was consummated this year, he followed through on his pledge to share some of his success with his University and made a gift to the Faculty of Engineering.

“I hope this is the first of many gifts that Waterloo will receive through Startup Pledge”, says Rink. “I have been privileged in my career to benefit from the support and guidance of experienced investors, advisors and colleagues, not to mention the excellent education I received at Waterloo. After having been the beneficiary of so much help, it seemed only fitting that I start giving back in some small way.”

Waterloo launched StartUp Pledge as a way for young entrepreneurs to support future generations of entrepreneurial-minded Waterloo students. It works like this: Waterloo alumni and members of the broader entrepreneurial community pledge their intent to donate a portion of their company’s future success to Waterloo. When the company undergoes an acquisition, merger, sale, or IPO (initial public offering), the individual donates a small portion of their equity to the University.

While StartUp Pledge has received more than 35 pledges from other entrepreneurs, Rink’s is the first actual gift to be received. The timing seems fitting as StartUp Pledge will celebrate its first anniversary on November 15.

In addition to financial support, Rink believes students need role models to expose them to the possibilities of entrepreneurship. He also encourages them to think beyond traditional work models. “Lots of people have an employee and employer mentality in that their default thinking is to go work for a company. I encourage everyone, especially new graduates who have the whole world in front of them, to change their default thinking to that of entrepreneur and opportunity. Even if you go work for a company, be an ‘entrepreneur in waiting’ while you explore and incubate a great idea or two.”

When asked what brought him to the University of Waterloo for his engineering degree, Rink said, “I came for Waterloo’s reputation, the quality of the education, and the access to the co-op program. But what ultimately stayed with me were the life lessons I learned in the classroom, in the workplace and with my friends, classmates and colleagues.”

He adds, “Another unexpected outcome was meeting my wife Trudy Rink (née Eisele) (BASc ’91) there.” The Rink family currently lives in Ottawa, and are very proud that their son Max started at Waterloo this September, in the same program his mother graduated from — Systems Design Engineering.