Katherine Regnier | Winner of the 2018 Prairies Woman Entrepreneur Award – Prairies
“The problem came first, then that resulted in me being an entrepreneur”
Katherine is a Saskatoon-based entrepreneur who is also the Founder & CEO of Coconut Software, providing a leading enterprise appointment scheduling solution to national clients like TELUS, Rogers, BELL and London Drugs.
After deciding to create Coconut Software, Katherine experienced four years of tremendous turbulence getting the company off the ground.
She successfully raised a seed round of seven-hundred-and-ten-thousand dollars in 2016, followed by four-point-two million dollar round in 2017. This allowed her to grow her team from 2 to 35 employees in both Saskatoon and Toronto.
Katherine is a huge beneficiary of the mentorship she received in Silicon Valley, which she is now passionate to share forward to Canadian entrepreneurs.
She is currently the founding Board Member of Co. Labs, Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator, supporting early-stage technology startups in the region.
Katherine’s passion and commitment have inspired a community of future risk-takers and entrepreneurs, making her a role model for women in STEM entrepreneurship.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Katherine to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
KR: I didn’t think about becoming an entrepreneur explicitly. I just became very passionate about solving a really big problem. The problem “How do we not waste time on the phone and corresponding when I know exactly what I want as a customer.?” The answer was – let me book an appointment online when I want with whomever I want — at any hour of the day. This idea transformed into Coconut Software. So, the problem came first, then that resulted in me being an entrepreneur.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
KR: I could write a book about lessons but to be focused I will narrow it down to 3 of my biggest lessons:
- It can be life changing to get the right Coach/Mentor. You can’t do it alone. Even the best hockey players have a coach. There is a reason for that.
- It’s all about People and Culture. I never understood why CEO’s talked about culture so much. I thought I had it figured out… until our team hit 35 -40ish. Then it hit me like a brick. So now in the company, my number metric is that our staff comes to work with Passion and Purpose. Culture isn’t about ping pong and beer fridges. For our team, it’s about do people understand what is expected of them and do they feel respected and accomplished at the end of the day.
- Being a mom of 2, a wife, a volunteer board member, and a CEO, I have learned that “work-life balance” is not the road I have chosen to take. What I do know is that “boundaries” are more important than balance. For instance, my husband and I agreed to no travel on the weekend. Everyone wins.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
KR: There will be days you can’t get out of bed. There will be days where you are completely burned out. It’s important to feel these moments, acknowledge they are real, but then pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You are not alone. You got this. Oh – and ask for help!
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?
KR: In my acceptance speech at the Prairie Region ceremony, I made a point of saying Canada wants more Women in Tech and more Women Entrepreneurs in general, therefore, it’s all of our JOB to execute. I am passionate about demonstrating and leading by example that we can do this from anywhere and especially in Canada. I’m a female CEO (without a tech background). In January our company reached a 50/50 split between men and women. This can be done. If I can do it — YOU definitely can do it! You just have to believe it’s possible.
SN: What is your message to the world?
KR: I read a quote yesterday and I fell in love with it: “It’s not about how much money you make or how many awards you have. It’s about how many lives you impact.”
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
KR: Yes. We have received major attention and it’s so fabulous because I can use Startup Canada as a platform to discuss important issues and hopefully inspire a few others to take a chance on themselves.