Graham Mann | 2017 Recipient of the Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur of the Year
“Hope for the best, plan for the worst. You won’t survive in entrepreneurship without a healthy dose of unreasonable optimism.”
Graham Mann is the Co-Founder and COO of Lean Systems, a Montreal-based business that develops optimization software designed to provide automated fleet routing and scheduling to improve productivity. With over 30,000 routes scheduled per month, Lean Systems is poised to transform the transportation sector.
In 2012, Graham launched Sail All, in Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit that has given over 2,000 youth the opportunity to sail.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
GM: I always loved math and physics through school, and it was originally a couple science fair projects that made me realize how much I enjoyed creating products from start to finish. After engineering, I wanted to get back to the start-to-finish type of projects, which led me to entrepreneurship.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
GM: Persistence leads to success. I’ve met a lot of amazing entrepreneurs, investors and supporters, and that’s the common thread between their success.
SN: What is your vision for the next 150 years?
GM: That’s a long time! My hope is we survive the next 150 years. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on investing time and resources in moving us towards sustainable technologies as quickly as possible, and I hope Canada will play a leading role in that shift.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
GM: Hope for the best, plan for the worst. You won’t survive in entrepreneurship without a healthy dose of unreasonable optimism. You have to be prepared, both financially and otherwise, to go through some tough times.
SN: What is the one thing we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
GM: Education needs to play a large role. I didn’t even know what an ‘entrepreneur’ was until late in high school, and it certainly wasn’t presented as a career path. Including basic finance and business sense in our curriculum, and presenting entrepreneurship as a career path need to be core to our education system.
SN: What is your message to the world?
GM: Be kind.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards?
GM: I think it’s great to recognize the work of entrepreneurs as they go, and it’s nice to be recognized by your peers. I think the value of the network that Startup Canada will provide, as well as the visibility, is going to really benefit our company moving forward.