From a young age, Andrew Oh wanted to help people. His job in the retail industry didn’t allow him to do that and for Andrew, that was a nonstarter. “I hated how horrible the customer service was where I was working, and I had no power to control things. This was the turning point,” shared Andrew. “I wanted to be my own boss, have the control, provide better customer service, and play a fair game where how far you get is determined by the individual and not others.” At the same time Andrew, who played ultimate frisbee for 8 years, saw an opportunity to create a better ultimate frisbee glove.
Andrew, who was studying Psychology at York University at the time, didn’t have the skills to start his own business, so he snuck into an entrepreneurship class at his university in the pursuit to learn more about starting a business. However, he was caught by the professor. The professor saw promise in Andrew, and decided to help him enroll in her undergraduate entrepreneurship class. “The rest is history,” Andrew explained. ”The same professor is my most trusted advisor and friend who was there from the beginning, and will be there at the end.”
With the right skills to start a business, and a trusted advisor and mentor, Andrew set out looking for a manufacturer for his premium ultimate frisbee gloves. Determined to find the perfect glove, Andrew sampled different gloves for a year before finding the right one. “Paying sampling fees proved to be very expensive with no guarantee, but it paid off in the end.” With the help of some friends with computer and website development skills, Andrew crafted his company’s website. He then proceeded to make his first order of 1000 gloves in December 2014.
Now distributing gloves internationally, and having sold in over 15 different countries, Mint Ultimate is a brand that has been growing rapidly. Andrew has been and continues to be challenged day in and day out. Starting a business while in school wasn’t easy, and Andrew had to quit his part-time job and drop many of his outside activities in order to dedicate his time to the business. Coordinating with manufactures across the globe hasn’t been easy either. Andrew regularly schedules calls with his manufactures in the evenings in order to account for the time difference. Today, Andrew’s biggest challenge is fully realizing the potential the US market has to offer. “My transactions are facilitated in US currency, and most of my customers are American, making doing business in Canada’s business environment extremely hard and painful.”
Andrew is currently deploying a lot of time into a “secret” new product. “I’ve wanted to annihilate my competitor’s business, and the next product I’m planning right now is to do just that,” Andrew explained. From the beginning, Andrew knew he could create an ultimate frisbee glove that was better for the players. Through his business, Andrew is able to realize his childhood dream of helping people. “When a high school kid tells me he can’t afford to pay the full price for a glove or a university student in the US with tuition of $45,000 USD asks for a discount, the ability to help them makes my job intrinsically rewarding,” Andrew shared “I’m helping people. It’s what I’ve wanted to do. Because I have full control, I can be fair, sympathetic, and break the rules and norm. This makes it a career I prefer over the alternatives.”
Andrew chose the path of entrepreneurship; while juggling school and turning an idea into a product, he managed to develop a career that he is passionate about. Andrew left us with one piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Dream big, start small. Work smart. Get credibility, then move forward. After you launch, it’s not hard to maintain and grow. You just have to use your head.”
Written by: Christopher Fletcher, Futurpreneur Canada Intern