This past week saw 32 of Canada's brightest students participate in Impact Apprentice in Toronto.
Impact Apprentice, created with Donald Trump's popular Apprentice in mind, is a hands-on competition in which Canada’s top post-secondary level students compete in various real-life business challenges allowing them to demonstrate their entrepreneurship strength by applying their leadership, teamwork, management and marketing abilities.
During the introductory sessions on Monday I caught up with Impact Apprentice sponsor Ray Cao of Toronto-based e-commerce start-up Loose Button. We talked about Loose Button and also how he came to become involved in this year's competition.
Tell me a little bit about Loose Button.
Loose Button is an online retail platform that brings established brands of international clothing to consumers who cannot easily get access to them. We believe that if you love something from London, Paris, or Tokyo, you don't need to travel half way around the world to purchase it.
As consumers, we always want what we can't have. Living in North America, we want want is available in Asia or in Europe. The same mindset applies if you're in Asia or in Europe.
How did you first become involved with Impact?
I first learned about Impact through a classmate at the University of Waterloo. At the time, Impact was a one-day conference organized by some very ambitious leaders on campus. My role evolved into running the National Conference and was eventually the president of the organization.
What lessons did you take away from Impact that has helped you in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Impact was my entrepreneurship playground. I ran the organization as if it was my own company. Impact also taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with amazing talent. My business partner is someone who I met through Impact. Some of my closest friends, mentors and clients have come from Impact.
Above all things, I lost my fear in starting a company. Having the confidence to turn your ideas into a reality is an incredibly powerful mindset to have.
Were you ever involved with Impact Apprentice?
I was never involved with the Apprentice as a contestant. I have, however, been actively involved in the strategic direction of the program over the last few years.
Why is Loose Button a sponsor of Impact Apprentice?
We are a sponsor of the Impact Apprentice because we are major supporters of programs and organizations that bring together top talent. The Impact Apprentice is one of the most prestigious initiatives in North America for young people and the calibre of contestants are second to none.
For more information on the competition and the talented students please visit the Impact Apprentice website.