Life doesn’t always go according to plan. You could have been sitting in your third year economics class in university, thinking about how you were going to run Bay Street in about five to six years. Maybe medical school was your initial plan after your undergrad. You might have gone through life, checking boxes on your checklist, thinking that everything will go as predicted, and then you’ll retire. Expecting things to go according to plan is only going to leave you disappointed because we never really know what is going to happen. Rolling with the punches, cultivating your passions and being open to opportunity is what will help you find success. One of our innovative entrepreneurs, Francisco Gonzalez, was always passionate about aviation. After earning his first degree in psychology and his commercial pilot certification, Francisco then started looking for a job in aviation. “My foray into the business world happened by accident when I started my first company in order to sustain myself while I navigated my job search in aviation,” he said.
Francisco then decided to start Sierra Sprinkler Systems as a short them project while figuring out his next steps. Little did he know, it would become a success. Before graduation, Francisco spent his university summers working for irrigation companies, fixing and installing underground lawn sprinklers. Obviously, it paid off. Even though this business was a success, he never forgot about his initial passion. He took what he learned and he dove into a new industry—a risk that only few entrepreneurs dare to take.
Skytech Solutions Ltd. is a remote sensing and data collection company, with specialization in the collection and processing of Laser and Ranging (LiDAR), sonar and photographic data. Skytech capitalizes on their commitment to technology expertise, being a leader in the geospatial industry. Geospatial, in short, is the geographic location and its characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on, above and below the earth’s surface. It also makes a point to express how dedicated they are to continuous growth and innovation, with strategic partnerships and with their team’s research and development (R&D). Skytech provides a very customizable service for its clients, always taking into consideration their needs. The data they provide is important for a wide variety of clients, especially in the oil industry. “I was inspired to start Skytech by the dream of owning a business that would encompass two of my greatest passions, business management and aviation,” Francisco shared. Although it is hard to achieve, it’s safe to say that he has the best of both worlds.
Francisco and his business partner, Matthew Glanzer, did face a big hurdle when it came to their business. One of their biggest challenges was during their beginning stages, when the economy was unstable in the province of Alberta from collapsing oil prices. “I believe we overcame this hurdle by becoming extremely flexible and allowing the market to dictate which way we should pivot,” Francisco said. “Rather than trying to push a service or product that we believed our clients should require, we instead allowed our clients to tell us what was valuable to them and what they actually wanted. We also expanded our services to industries beyond oil.” Most businesses that face such a huge dilemma in the beginning stages don’t necessarily survive, but Skytech is a great example of how entrepreneurs can overcome it by adapting to the current times and economic tribulations.
Francisco and Matthew, as knowledgeable and as passionate as they were when launching their business, still needed help. Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit dedicated to financing and mentoring of young entrepreneurs such as this pair, supported Skytech in its beginning years. When asked about the mentoring process, this is what Francisco had to say: “We were initially set up with a great businessman mentor who taught us a lot about basic marketing and teamwork. He was able to guide us through some of the hurdles we encountered at the beginning, relating our search for new clients. Initially, it was challenging to make our company known to those people who were looking for our services.” Futurpreneur’s mentoring program has made a large impact on young entrepreneurs in Canada since its launch and has been a leading example to why it is so important. “If you are one of those people that likes to do things the hard way and learn from your own mistakes, then mentoring is not for you. However, if you are one of those people that would like to avoid situations and mistakes and the common pitfalls of many businesses, a mentor will be ESSENTIAL,” Francisco explained.
Starting out your own business can be quite scary, especially when you initially had other plans. Sometimes life pulls you in different directions and you have to have the tenacity and the willingness to learn to succeed in it. Francisco took this chance by leaving his previous business and starting a new and is proof that taking risks are worth it.
We asked Francisco what his best piece of advice was for all of the young entrepreneurs out there and this is what he said:
“The best advice I can give anyone wanting to start a new business, or those with great entrepreneurial ideas is to be flexible and understand that no matter how amazing you think your products or services are, in the end, the ultimate judge of this will be your clients. For this reason, it is very important to do market research and be sure this product or service is something your potential clients actually need or want.”
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Intern, Futurpreneur Canada