To get you excited for the Action Entrepreneurship Community Exchange in Edmonton on February 11th, we thought we’d chat with one of our panelists that will be joining us, Ken Bautista, Partner at Flightpath Ventures. We will be interviewing Ken live at the Community Exchange about some of his biggest successes, lessons and failures as an entrepreneur. To register for the Community Exchange in Edmonton or in your area, click here.

What inspired you to start your business?

What inspires me about starting a business isn’t about starting a business itself, but solving a problem that I’m interested in, and building a product and business around that. My first business was focused on educational software development which I started as I was earning an education degree at the University of Alberta (and happened to be focused on instructional technology and learning resources). My recent business (Startup Edmonton) came out of a desire to create a platform and place where entrepreneurs like me could work and learn from other entrepreneurs in our community from day one. It’s the place I wish was around when I was first getting started as an entrepreneur, so it’s been exciting to see how it’s grown.

How has networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs and mentors helped you and your business succeed?

Entrepreneurship is a team sport. It’s one of the hardest things to work through. Anyone who tries to do it alone will have a really, really tough time. I’ve always valued building a circle of peers and mentors around me. I believe strongly in building friendships, not just networks, as it’s the personal connection that compels someone to go the extra mile to help me (and vice versa).

What has been the most rewarding milestone for you as an entrepreneur?

I don’t know if I could pick out a single milestone moment over the years that’s more rewarding than the rest. Although I will say that seeing waves of young founders building products and companies at Startup Edmonton has been really exciting. As an educator-turned-entrepreneur, this particular venture has pulled together so many of things I care deeply about – learning, technology, entrepreneurship, and my city – so being able to see that I helped build something important in the world has been immensely rewarding.

If you had one piece of advice to help entrepreneurs expand their professional network, what would it be?

Never be afraid to ask. Whether it’s reaching out to a potential customer at a big name company in a big city, an executive leader you’d like to mentor you, or an investor you want to pitch, just remember that no matter what position someone is in, they’re a person too. Be respectful of them, their time, and find a reason for them to care about you. You’d be amazed how quickly doors open from there.

What’s your mantra or words you live by?

Don’t wait, start now.

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