She Did It Her Way, WNX Breakfast Recap

27 May

photo 2When she was in grade seven in Montreal, Sue Abu-Hakima, Co-founder & CEO of Amika Mobile, took a career aptitude test. The result was that she should be a filing clerk. Sue ignored it on the advice of her mother, a PhD from London University and teacher at McGill University. With Sue’s story, the title of May’s Women’s Executive Network (WXN) breakfast talk in Ottawa could not have been more appropriate: I Did It My Way: Lessons Learned from Entrepreneurs.

During that event, Sue gave us seven key takeaways for running a successful business.

1.    Decide what you’re going to attack – find the problem you’re going to solve.

2.    Pick a huge market. “A million dollar market isn’t good enough. You need a giant market. If you get only 1% it has to be big. Talk to me about a $100 million market.”

3.    Make great products and patents.

4.    Form a team. “You are the cheerleader. . . You are kind of like the bell weather for your team.” Sue likes to throw a Frisbee around the office with her team, or take them to blockbuster movies like The Matrix and Iron Man. She knows that the work environment can be stressful, and it’s her job to maintain the right kind of energy.

5.    Business model: “Get your product into customers’ hands and get their feedback ASAP. Also, keep in mind, your competitors know everything about you, so get to know them too.”

6.    Find financing. “There are strong angel groups out there including in Ottawa. But be careful when seeking financing. When it comes to venture cap, as a woman you don’t ‘fit the mold.’ Only one in 400 companies are funded and only one in 1,000 lead by women are funded. So, don’t go in with high expectations and get ready to bootstrap!”

7.    Have an exit strategy for teams and investors. “Be generous to anybody that helped you especially your team and angel investors as you will need them for the next company.”

WXNIf you want to catch more detail on these points, we have a video of Sue’s TEDx Talk here.
Sue’s insights went beyond her seven-point presentation. Here are just a few of the gems she shared:

“Go out, get people with gray hairs who have done it before and they can help you on your board of directors and as advisors.”

“Help your community, help yourself.”“You only live once. If you hate your job, you are dying, start thinking how you can change it.”

“Make those mistakes, recognize those mistakes, and fix them.”

“Women, we are the hardest on ourselves. If we can’t get 80 or above, we can’t do it.”

“There’s no such thing as perfect.”

After her presentation, Sue went around the room and took the time to speak to the attendees and exchange business cards, cranking up the networking and getting women to connect.

Thanks very much to Sue for your candid conversation and encouragement for all the women in the room. And thank you also to the WXN for organizing these events.

Till next time,


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