Cameron Ritchie | Winner of the 2018 Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award – National
“You are never too young to put yourself out there and try to make a difference or to try something new”
Cameron is the founder of HomeWurk, a revolutionary Fredericton-based platform. It takes odd jobs and chores off the hands of busy people and trusts them with hard-working students.
In less than a year, HomeWurk has empowered more than one-hundred-and-fifty students with flexible employment, useful life skills, and helped them to save money for post-secondary education.
Just since winning the regional Startup Canada Award in Spring 2018, HomeWurk has connected students to more than four-hundred-and-eighty jobs and collected more than seventy-two-thousand dollars in revenue.
As a seventeen-year-old university freshman, Cameron has big plans to integrate HomeWurk into cities across Canada.
He’s an exemplary young entrepreneur with a bright future as a leader in Canada’s gig economy.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Cameron to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
CR: The funny thing is, is that the word “entrepreneur” was alien to me until I began my first venture, “HomeWurk”. I always found myself in leadership roles throughout my life, some examples would be nominated for Team Captain of my High School Varsity Rugby team or helping facilitate a Start Up weekend in Fredericton in February 2018. I have always been a problem solver, this is why Engineering is a study that suits me well. Problem-solving is also the same reason as to why being an entrepreneur has become a large portion of my life. My family had no prior entrepreneurial experiences besides my father being a Pizza Hut owner/operator, other than that my experience as being an entrepreneur has been driven solely by myself and guided by multiple amazing mentors.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
CR: The biggest lesson that I have learned is nobody should be scared to ask for help. Sometimes there are tasks that are too big or you might not have the proper knowledge to accomplish on your own. Speaking off of personal experience, with following through with my first venture, I would have never been where I am now if I would have never reached out to Opportunities New Brunswick and Ignite Fredericton. While still being a high school student, I had no prior experience in creating a business, after reaching out for some mentorship, within one year I created a self-sustaining startup that has completed thousands of jobs in the Fredericton area and helping hundreds of community members and impacting the lives of hundreds of local students. I have found that there are people who feel that asking for help makes them look weak or less intelligent, where in reality it presents the opposite.
SN: What is the one thing you think we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
CR: Through my experience, I have had a lot of trouble with accessing funds to help assist my startup “HomeWurk” through its startup phase. These “roadblocks” are very discouraging and depending on the venture, sometimes critical to the success of a business. Many entrepreneurs begin their venture with not much personal capital to invest in their innovative idea, this might lead them to think that the possibility of them pursuing their venture is financially unrealistic. With businesses being the economic drive in a large portion of cities and towns in Canada, the nation should cater more to these ventures since, in the end, it is mostly businesses who employ their citizens and create jobs. Having a financial incentive or more funding that could be accessed would be a huge help to early entrepreneurs.
The second thing that Canada can do to increase entrepreneurship is to involve entrepreneurship more into their education system. In my high school, most focus was on learning math and sciences. Having to wait until postsecondary to be able to learn and apply business is a very long wait. There are some kids who show signs of entrepreneurship very young with starting lemonade stands or starting their own lawn mowing services. Studies have shown that the earlier you expose a practice to a developing person, the more likely it is to adhere to them. Having mandatory business courses starting as early as middle school would be a huge opportunity to expose and introduce young students to entrepreneurship.
SN: What is your message to the world?
CR: My message to the world is that age is just a number. I started dreaming and visualizing about my Idea “HomeWurk” since the summer going into eleventh grade. Students are the future of Canada and will pave the pathway of the world. We are in charge of molding the world to benefit the people around us. You are never too young to put yourself out there and try to make a difference or to try something new.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
CR: Startup Canada single-handedly took our branding and took it to the next level, and here’s how:
Being recognised by Startup Canada as a young entrepreneur of Atlantic Canada has brought a level of prestige to the HomeWurk brand. With being 17, there has always been an issue of people not comprehending the scale at which HomeWurk is operating at. Having the title of Young Entrepreneur of Atlantic Canada 2018 has greatly helped others take HomeWurk as if it wasn’t any regular high school graduate running the company, rather we are treated as the change-makers that we are.
Receiving the first award has brought lots of press coverage that has given HomeWurk an enormous amount of brand exposure opportunities which have brought in over 480 jobs giving spread across 84 different students bringing in a revenue of over $72 000. This is ONLY the jobs that the aftermath from receiving the award from Startup Canada has created. This is how much of an impact that this award has had on myself (Cameron) and HomeWurk, and I can only imagine the different opportunities a national award would bring.