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The Start of a Journey

Posted , In About Happipad, Blog

This speech was given by Happipad co-founder Cailan Libby at the Community Reception event at UBC Okanagan on September 21, 2017

All great things have to start somewhere. Before I was involved in the world of startups, I was an engineering student at UBC Okanagan. The first time I stepped on campus I was full of excitement, eager to start a new adventure. I have always been driven, interested in how things work, building, creating, innovating, and solving problems. When I walked through the UBC campus for my first time, I found the place I was longing for.  A place full of discovery and innovation, a place where I could meet others, like me.

The days were long and the years were short. The challenges were plentiful and at times, painful. But when it came to working on design projects, I was in my happy place. It was through this experience that I connected with Dr. Ken Chau, where I was discussing electromagnetic theory when building a 3-phase squirrel cage induction motor, from scratch. This evolved into working in his research lab the following summer. Ken and I got along well right from the beginning, but what was unique about our relationship is how we both see a much bigger picture, far beyond the boundaries of the laboratory. Not only did we see a problem, we saw opportunity.  A way to merge theoretical research with practical applications, while having the foresight to consider the greatest challenge, the human response, a truly chaotic system.

The summer before finishing my degree, Ken and I met in his basement to talk business. We both love solving problems, in fact maybe too much as we generated a list of problems to solve that nearly needed a table of contents. Then, as all good engineer do, we re-iterated, again and again, until we decided to tackle the simplest problem with the most complicated solution. Renting. This was the birth of Happipad.

Now, what does renting a property have to do with engineering? Engineering is about solving problems, creating unique solutions to do something better. This started with envisioning the perfect rental transaction, then breaking it down to discover how you could create that.
We soon found out the problem was hard, very hard. We had many variables to account for, some of which engineers are not well versed in, such as emotion. We first built what was in our minds a “perfect solution”, no-one signed up. Then as you do in the startup world, you pivot, creating a feedback loop that allows you to tap into this thing our clients had, an emotional response.

Once I was engaged in my own startup business I was hooked. I participated in the UBCO Entrepreneur Bootcamp where I pitched another one of my business ideas, taking first place. That project is still alive, however it’s now one of my side projects. My main focus today is Happipad. After receiving a scholarship into the Accelerate Okanagan Venture Acceleration Program, I knew I found what I was destined for. Here I was immersed into the local $1.3 Billion (and growing) tech. industry, connecting with like minded people full of ambition and big ideas. Here, I found my people, again.

I knew from the beginning my education was merely just part of a bigger journey. Along this journey I have met many amazing people, and I know I will meet many more. What has been most important for me is staying true to my vision, fight the battles worth fighting, and pivot when the path requires.

I love working hard, I love taking on challenges, I am tolerable of risk as I accept failure. Every failure is a step closer to success, each an opportunity to grow. I learnt what is important to learn how to be comfortable when things are uncomfortable, learning how to push harder when it starts to hurt.

I am in my early days of creating something great, so where will it go? Well, one of my running coaches once said I don’t know what limits are. I have a big list of problems to solve and I am currently at the top of that list. As an individual, it is impossible to achieve everything, that is where partners and community come in. Which comes to my core principle, everything I do is for the community, every problem that I choose to solve is to benefit our society. It has been a blessing to have the support from Ken, UBC, KPMG, Accelerate Okanagan, Okanagan coLab, and Kelowna.

Together, let’s see where we can go.

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