We’re excited to welcome you to the CoLab family, Ned! Tell us a little about yourself.
I always struggle to answer that question. I’m Ned. I love building and growing businesses and geek out on crossfit, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. I’m a bit of a biohacker, fascinated by the concept of optimal living, so I often try new things and experiments on myself (fasting, sleep hacking, diet experiments—nothing too crazy).
How did you first get into business development?
I initially decided to study marketing because I liked the idea of working at an agency and creating award-winning advertising campaigns for well-known brands. During my undergraduate, I discovered the world of technology startups and completely changed tracks. Shopify was heavily involved in the local community in Ottawa and I learned a lot watching them go from a 100-person company to the +5000-person company they are today. After seeing such explosive growth up close, I decided to learn the ins and out of company growth and become part of a rocketship myself, either as a founder or early employee—and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. Business development is a core requirement for startup growth. You need to be able to wear many hats, and business development is a hat that fits me well.
Why did you join CoLab and what are you most excited about?
I joined CoLab because the company is primed for growth and I’m excited to have an impact. Our current customers love our product and all the pieces are there—we just need to step on the growth gas pedal and do the work. It’s hard work, but also some of the most rewarding work you can do.
While the idea of moving to a popular startup hub was also appealing, unicorns can be built from anywhere. I recall Tobi Lutke, CEO at Shopify, saying that there’s no right place to build a company—there’s only the right place for you. Hypergrowth has less to do with your location, more with your execution. So here I am, at CoLab, in St John’s, ready to execute. Startups are not easy. They require a lot of energy. But I felt the right positive energy during my initial interview, so I literally stopped everything I was doing to be all in.
If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
I would pack two books: Letters from a Stoic by Seneca and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I’ve been practicing stoic philosophy for the last 5 years and it has served me well in good and tough times. The entire philosophy is about focusing on what you can control and being present—something I need to constantly remind myself during my self-isolation, and something I’d need on a deserted island. Sapiens, on the other hand, is about the story of us, humans, and our incredible ability to constantly adapt to new environments and circumstances. We’ve been adapting to new circumstances for millennia. The book would remind me that it’s been done before and that I can do it. The rest will be an adventure, like my time here in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.