One of the perks of working at Futurpreneur Canada is hearing stories from the young people we support about how and why they ended up becoming entrepreneurs. It’s always interesting to learn what drives these enterprising young Canadians to forgo the traditional path of job security, pension plans and the corporate ladder in favour of the road less traveled. There are some common themes –underemployment in a competitive job market, a desire for the freedom of self-employment, or simply having a really great idea – but once in a while you meet someone who always wanted to be an entrepreneur. It’s just in their DNA, and whatever path they end up taking, entrepreneurship is their ultimate destination.
That was the case with Nathon Kong, owner of Tailor2Go, an innovative mobile menswear boutique based in Montreal that brings the personal shopping experience right to customers’ doors. When asked what inspired him to become an entrepreneur, Nathon talks about growing up with a single mother who started a business from nothing in order to send her four children to university. Fast forward to 2015 and she has accomplished this goal and much more, according to Nathon, who himself has a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Ottawa. While there, scholarships he received allowed him to specialize in entrepreneurial studies, bringing him one step closer to his goal of following in his mother’s footsteps. He worked and volunteered for small businesses to gain experience, and was involved in several small start-up projects.
After graduating, Nathon worked as a business analyst and as a consultant in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, gaining experience in project management, operations and business development. The big idea that would ultimately start his career as an entrepreneur in the retail sector came during this time, when he struggled to find well-made, professional clothing that fit his slender frame. He found the whole shopping experience demoralizing, from pushy salespeople to multiple fittings. Despite buying a premium off-the-rack suit, the quality and fit didn’t impress him, even after expensive alterations. As a result of this experience, Nathon set out to create a new standard for the shopping experience.
His enviable concept features a solar-powered truck configured with a 3D scanner to take highly-accurate, 360-degree body measurements in under five seconds. Clients set up appointments to have the truck come to their home or place of business, where they get one-on-one help selecting the right fabric and style for their custom pieces. The clothes are then made in a family-owned factory in his native Thailand and delivered within a few weeks, fit guaranteed. Tailor2Go delivers a seamless experience that is sure to please even the most mall-phobic among us.
Since launching his business June 2015, Nathon has already received several accolades for Tailor2Go. He won first place in the CBC Media Pitch Competition at the International Startup Festival, and first prize at the McGill University Dobson Cup Start-UP Competition in the Small and Medium Enterprise Track. Nathon was one of 12 finalists in the first-ever Montreal Startup Challenge, receiving an honorable mention, and at the Concours Quebec en Entrepreneuriat 2015 competition Tailor2Go took first place at the city level (Montréal) and second place at the regional level (Québec). Nathon is also one of 11 recipients of this year’s Spin Master Innovation Fund, a program Futurpreneur Canada offers in partnership with Spin Master Ltd., where innovative entrepreneurs compete to receive up to $50,000 in financing, along with specialized mentoring and workshops. Just this week, Nathon won yet another cash prize of $15,000 from Fondation Montréal Inc.
In true entrepreneurial fashion, Nathon has big dreams for the future of his business. His goal is to expand to various cities across Canada, and eventually across North America. He also has some key advice to share with other aspiring young business owners: “Be confident and always start “now”, never say today or tomorrow. Confront your fear.” We couldn’t agree more!
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Written By: Kristin Knapp, Content Copywriter, Futurpreneur Canada