'We're only getting started,' Calgary company says after big Tokyo nanotech win
Nanalysis was the only non-Japanese company to win an award
TLDR: These views are my own. Am I saying that I am the best there is; No. Am I bragging; maybe, but I think that is deserved ever just so slightly. Can anyone do what I am doing; absolutely yes, but you have to want it bad enough! I am a determined, goal orientated, and sometimes stubborn individual, which adds up to a David vs. Goliath story that is being written each day with shear amounts of determination, grit, and an attitude that says failure is not an option!
"Yeah, I done did a lot of things in my day, I admit it; I don't take back what I say, if I said it then I meant it. All my life I want a Grammy but I'll prolly never get it. I ain't never had no trophy or no ribbon; Screw the system, bend the law, cut the rules. I'm about to risk it all, I ain't got too much to lose. Y'all been eatin' long enough, it's my turn to cut the food; Pass the plate! Where my drink? This my day, lucky you!"
If you don't follow the rap music industry much, you have probably never heard or Joyner Lucas; you might have, however, heard of Eminem. Eminem's 10th studio album, Kamikaze, released in 2018, features a song called Lucky You with Joyner Lucas. The song is a wonderfully written ballot between Joyner and Eminem contrasting a different point in their lifetime from present time. Joyner starts off by rapping about his perceived future in the music industry saying that although he thinks he is good enough for a Grammy award, he will probably never get one. The idea he indirectly portrays is if there is any chance of success he is going to risk it all while going all out to reach the recognition that he thinks he deserves. After listening to a hungry Joyner, a subdued Eminem starts off by reminiscing about his come-up through the rap music industry saying, "I done won a couple Grammy's, but I sold my soul to get 'em; Wasn't in it for the trophies, just the recognition". Although everyone knows Eminem's story and that he worked hard to get there, his perspective has changed with time as he now collaborates with new and upcoming artists. Although Eminem can sit back and reminisce about the times he had, he ends off by saying that his story is still being written and that he is just as hungry now as he once was when he first started!
To understand where in my story we are today, we must first start back at the beginning.
After graduating in the top 15% of the Mechanical Engineering class of 2014 from the University of Alberta, I had high hopes of landing the perfect job, getting the perfect wife, and starting a perfect career. Now you're thinking, "a nice happily ever after ending story"... Well, I can tell you that none of those things happened. With the downturn in the Alberta oil patch (once again), I bounced around odd jobs looking for work. I considered everything from moving out of the country to going back to school for more school! After not being able to find a job in an engineering role, I started driving trucks for my brothers. It managed to pay the bills and it also gave me a lot of time to think. While I wasn't driving, I was looking for more jobs to apply to.
In 2016 the Alberta economy started to pick up again and I finally landed a job as a Mechanical Design Engineer. I HATED that job! My soul slowly died working in a cramped office with no windows waiting for each day to end. At the end of my time working there, I learned a lot about how I would never run my own company if I was to ever have one! After collecting terrible paycheques for months on end, one day I realized that I would never even have the opportunity to start my own company if I was only just trying to stay afloat. About a week after that day, I was fired! Yup, F-I-R-E-D! The boss told me that I didn't jive well with the team. This was understandable though, because at that time I was trying to decide how to tell them that I was leaving. It was a blessing in the end.
After being fired, I applied to work at an oil well servicing company. I knew they paid well and I could make some good cash, even if it wasn't doing something I dreamt about or went to school for. I ended up working 36-56 days straight at a time for 14 hours a day, but I loved every minute of it when I first started. After about a year and a half of working at this company, I started to have a lot of time to think again. Was this what my life had come to? Was I just meant to settle for never reaching my dream. Although this job was not my dream job, It did provide me with a means to an end; large paycheques that allowed me to save up for my dream of one day starting a startup.
I was working one day with a crew not far from home. It was cold, blowing snow, hour 8 of our 14 hour shift, and I decided I had enough. That evening, November 25, 2018 I wrote up my 2 week notice in the hotel room and sent it off to head office by email. A few hours into the next day shift, the supervisor pulls me aside and shakes my hand while saying, "It was nice working with you". Apparently the office had requested me to come back and was willing to pay out my two weeks in lieu of my two week notice. I shook the bosses hand and walked out the door. As I walked to my vehicle, I thought to myself, "Well, this is what you wanted. You better get to work on starting your dream now!"
That very same day that I was paid out was the first day for Prototype Hubs, the company that I had been doing research on and thinking about in my head for a while. I sat down and over the next week started drafting up a business plan and pitch deck. Having a new sense of adventure gave me even more determination and drive; I was on a freight train that was headed straight for success, or so I thought. After completing the business plan, pitch deck, charts, graphs, and getting everything set up, I was sure that people would be more than willing to shell out their money on my idea! I mean, I am a Mechanical Engineer with a passion for manufacturing and I had worked in few different related industries. What more could people want?
I started to pitch the idea to various people and they seemed to love it, but at that point it was only that: an idea. The learning curve is steep in the life of a startup for a first time founder, first learning how things like funding, pitching, MVP's, etc. work and then actually starting down that road to grow those ideas and get other people to believe in them. After about 4-6 weeks of talking with different people I decided that I couldn't wait any longer on people to decide if I was serious about it or not. I would self-fund the entire startup to get things up and running and show them that I was determined to make this a reality.
Now that the idea and funds were in place, it was time to start building Prototype Hubs, an online network of 3D printing and CNC cutting manufacturers with instant prices and the client choice of manufacturing partners. The only problem was that the last time I had to write a piece of code was for an assignment in university. I managed to find some people that could help me out, as I had never started a business or even built a piece of software before. With a team in place and ready to start, we sat down and came up with a schedule and some deadlines. July 1, 2019 was going to be the grand launch. Little did I realize that there were going to be few unplanned setbacks along the way.
July 1st came and went and everyone was playing catch up. With some of the issues being sorted out we sat down again and re-planned our launch schedule for August 12, 2019. I am now happy to say that Prototype Hubs has officially launched and is now live online and in business! With accounts set up in over 13 different countries worldwide within the first 14 days of the launch, I can say that the response has far exceeded my dreams and expectations.
For the last 280+ days I have worked tirelessly day and night on building my dream of a startup and more importantly, something that I love waking up to and look forward to doing everyday! It has not been easy and there where days where I would be the only one working in what seemed like the whole city, but being the sole founder and 100% common share owner of a web-based manufacturing network was something that I never even dreamed of being possible at one point in my life. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make things succeed!
With plans to continue to expand and grow the Prototype Hubs brand and business, I am excited to announce that the Prototype Hubs seed funding round will be starting on September 18, 2019.
There are a few people who I could not have done this without and deserve all the thanks in the world. First, the Lord for giving me the strength every day to push past the setbacks, trials, and moments of despair. Secondly, my parents who have given and continue to give me their guidance, blessing, and help. And lastly, everyone who has believed in me and encouraged me, especially when times have been tough and I felt like giving up.
So whether you are with me or against me, I will be here putting in the work to build a company and dream that I am proud of each and every day! One day when I look back and reminisce as Eminem did in "Lucy You", I can only hope to see the fruit of my labor as I imagine it now. As for this moment, I think Joyner put it best at the end of his verse when he said, "When I die I'm goin' out as the underdog who never lost hope".
Co-Founder & CEO of Prototype Hubs
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