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Passion First, Money Later.

Hi everyone! My name is Maya and I am a Grade 10 student from Toronto. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x MidtownTO’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about starting your own business.



I often come up with creative business concepts, however, I am prone to not acting on them. Listening to Razor Shueman speak on how his businesses originated, I realized that I must find something I am passionate about first, and then figure out how to monetize it after.

Razor emphasized the importance of starting with a passion, but he also gave other advice that I am glad to have received as a teenager.


He recommended keeping costs low to maximize profit. This is a good reminder as I'm sure many people don't realize that you can do a lot with a little. Alongside that, looking for free opportunities is invaluable and a good to keep at the front of my mind. That being said, this is all advice that I had heard before and was simply just reinforced. Something I didn't consider, however, was the consequences of selling shares of your company to venture capitalists.



I am a very trusting person, which sometimes works to my disadvantage. I will always remember Razor's warning not to dilute myself by selling shares to professional investors, especially not when desperate for financial assistance. Razor used the analogy of only considering VCs when "the wind is at your back, not blowing against you." The venture capitalists don't care about you, they care about their bottom line; a harsh truth I really needed to hear. Guess I'm not going on Dragons Den anytime soon 🤷‍♀️.


My favourite part of the conference was asking questions to people who've achieved success in their careers. I particularly enjoyed asking Alina questions about her journey because I find it amazing how she started Illuminate Universe and turned it into a national success. I admire all of the speakers who I had the pleasure of listening to. Their entrepreneurship advice is the most valuable thing I got out of the conference.


My biggest takeaway from today is if I want to start a business, I first need to find my passion. I love a wide variety of subjects and activities, so it will be a challenge, but I know that's where I have to start. Alina told us that when we're doing something and there is nothing else we'd rather be doing, that's our passion. I hope to find mine so I can move forward in creating a business/project I am fully committed to.


I want to thank everyone who was involved in organizing this amazing conference. I really enjoyed the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat.


All the best!