Coming into the QICSI program this summer, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on startups and particularly the type of company that I would like to build.
Something that I found myself assuming was that it would not take very long to build a business. I naively assumed that you could get something profitable up and running in a year.
How wrong I was.
Companies which have graduated from the program have come back to discuss their experiences. What has struck me has been their lengthy timelines. One company, while having signed government contracts and won several international pitch competitions, is still working on their commercial product two years out from when they started working full time on their venture.
Another found details how she watched her friends signing full-time lucrative jobs when she graduated from the program, while she was sitting in Kingston, on a fold-out table, applying for funding grants. Only recently, three years out from starting work full time, has she started to gain significant traction. She has just been able to afford to open an office in Toronto.
Reflecting on companies like Shopify. who were founded in 2004, it took them 10 years to reach IPO. They only recently passed $1bn in sales.
For me, this is a sobering reminder of the lengthy timelines required to build a scale business. Something to keep in mind as the program moves forward.