President and Co-Founder of TeamBuy.ca
Location: Toronto, ON
Edward Yao and his co-founder Andrew Hutchings have carved out a niche in the exploding deal-a-day sector by focusing on small and mid-sized businesses that target young professionals. Founded in 2009, TeamBuy.ca’s growth rate is impressive; it employs more than 100 people, and its site ranks as one of the top 200 websites in Canada, according to web analytics firm Alexa.com. For Yao, the decision to leave a stable career in management consulting to focus on the business was an easy one. From a young age, he was confident he would run his own company; he’s always been drawn to the idea of taking on risk to build something great—values he claims to have learned from his immigrant parents. “I knew without a doubt that I’d be happiest in an entrepreneurial role,” says Yao. “I know that the path I have chosen is the one that makes me the happiest.”
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Things don’t always go as planned. Focus on a solution and do not stress about what you cannot control.
What is your best advice for young entrepreneurs?
Don’t aim to fail. I've seen many aspiring entrepreneurs make the mistake of labeling their business a “project”; they accepted the idea of failure if it was destined to happen. Entrepreneurs are faced with difficult personal and financial sacrifices every day. If you’ve accepted failure, you simply won’t make these sacrifices.
What can governments, institutions and other businesses do to better support young entrepreneurs?
There are many resources to set young entrepreneurs on the right track. I think the gap in Canada is in financing young entrepreneurs’ ventures. The appetite for risk in Canada is far lower than elsewhere. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it leads Canadian startups to look abroad for their financing needs.