Alex Gillis | 2015 Recipient of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
“Follow your passion and allow opportunities to take priority – you never know where an open door may take you.”
Alex is a 19-year-old, Loran Scholar at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business who previously advised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the future of youth entrepreneurship and education.
In June 2014, Alex founded a retail-focused location analytics start up, Bitness.io, allowing stores to monitor foot traffic inside and outside of their location to improve marketing efforts.
Wanting to see more youth enter the business and technology space, Alex created Hoist Halifax to offer monthly workshops to teens interested in the areas of technology, business and design in partnership with Volta Labs.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
AG: I became an entrepreneur because I want to solve societal problems and make everyone’s day better. Any project I work on consists of an honest team, humble beginnings, and a high impact idea.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
AG: Be your own motivator. You shouldn’t be inspired by fame, fortune, prizes or profits. You need to believe in your vision and follow through with it.
SN: What is the one thing we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
AG: We need to take ourselves more seriously. Canada has some of the top talent and institutions in the world and we need to keep their collective knowledge in Canada. With our increasing cost of living and decreasing dollar face value, we need to implement a range of benefits to ensure we protect the resources we have.
SN: What is your vision for the next 150 years?
AG: I hope to see Canada emerge as a global leader in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, maintaining an unprecedented wealth of knowledge that can move society forward as a whole, to conquer whatever challenges face the centuries ahead.
SN: What is your message to the world?
AG: Whatever your dream is, pursuit it. Whatever opportunity comes your way, take it. You’re never too young to start building our future.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards?
AG: Receiving the 2015 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award provided validation for my work in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and my local community. The award has acted as a symbol of trust and leadership when being asked to present at conferences and summits about youth entrepreneurship and impact.