Hi Elena! Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I obtained both my bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Waterloo in electrical and mechanical engineering. I’ve worked with hardware in electronics labs and have hands-on knowledge of semiconductor fabrication. After my studies, I kick-started my career and transitioned into computer programming. I've written code for notable companies, including Intel and Square. I’ve also been sharing my passion for computer science and engineering by teaching STEM courses at various colleges. In addition to that, I gained valuable exposure to the business side of things when I worked as a program manager.
What inspired you to establish your own startup?
I've always been passionate about addressing significant challenges and solving real problems. One significant problem we are facing today on a global scale is Climate Change. A startup presents a unique opportunity to tackle this problem by building a vital and profitable solution in the Climate Tech space. I'm at a point in both my professional and personal life where I feel prepared to take on this new challenge and responsibility.
I'm at a point in both my professional and personal life where I feel prepared to take on this new challenge and responsibility.
A pivotal point for me was the Collision Conference in Toronto. I went around to the startup booths and talked to anyone I could about their startup journey. It was very encouraging to see others bringing their ideas into the world, and that was when I became sure that I wanted to do the same.
How did you come across Antler?
After leaving Square, I explored the startup scene, tried to find a co-founder, and solidified an idea. Amidst this search, Naman from Antler reached out. Antler offered precisely the support I needed - Antler is your partner from day zero, you join a pool of potential co-founders, and you get guidance and access to advisors and experts who help you build a company. It all just clicked and the timing was perfect.
What surprised you the most after joining Antler?
The palpable energy in the room. I expected to be surrounded by intelligent individuals, but the collective drive and passion were truly surprising.
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
It's about finding an industry that you are knowledgeable about and passionate enough to pursue for the next five, seven, ten years… Secondly, you need a problem and a solution that intersects with your skills and holds the potential for growth. Lastly, this alignment has to match with your co-founder's vision too.
Any advice for newcomers to Antler?
Be clear about your goals and deal breakers. Take or create every opportunity that you can to take you towards those goals. From time to time, you need to stop, look critically at where you’ve arrived, and ensure you remain on the path to your overarching objectives.
Take or create every opportunity that you can to take you to reach your goals.
I'd also advise prospective founders to research their areas of interest thoroughly. Networking with cohort members before the program starts is also invaluable. Being familiar with fellow participants' interests and strengths can streamline the collaboration process.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for day zero founders?
I think it is useful to be able to evaluate your ideas - Are they feasible? Are they necessary? Are you the right person to do it? Then think about how you can brand yourself in the company, it is important to your customers, for the VC world, for employees, and for future hires. It might make it harder to find an idea but will really stop you from going off on a tangent.
For people like me, who have no hands-on startup experience, I would recommend reading all the must-reads starting with the Lean Startup. I’ve also watched many videos, listened to podcasts, and subscribed to different VCs on social media to have the news and content in my feed.
To find the people and funding you need to build a world-changing company, apply to an Antler residency.