So by the title of this post, it seems like I should be going on a rant, but i’m not. Who the hell is this guy!? Is me, myself and I!
So let me tell you my story, it might be boring, and broken up over many, many …. many posts but hey! you’re reading this aren’t you? You can’t expect anything less!
My name is Chris. I’m from the island of Cape Breton. I don’t say I am from Nova Scotia, because, well if you’ve known Cape Bretoners in the past, you know we think that the mainland is out to get us. We have a lot to be proud of as Cape Bretoners, you know, not that 15.1% unemployment rate, and an industry that only operates six months of the year. I’m talking about the natural beauty and all that jazz.
Well looking at the ocean is nice, and the mountains are beautiful, but when you live there, not so much. I wanted to get the hell out of dodge as fast as I could. The island, as most islands do, have a way of sucking you in and keeping you there. Growing up, I knew plenty of people who never saw the other side of the causeway (ie, the Canso Causeway which connects the Island to the mainland). I grew up in a family that liked to travel, and we often did road trips to the big city. When Canadians talk about the big city, we can only mean one place, Toronto.
I knew from when I was very young that Toronto is where I wanted to go when I left Cape Breton, so in the final year of high school I put all my eggs in one basket and only applied to the University of Toronto. In hind sight, really really dumb move, but hey! it worked out!
I had just turned 18 and was dropped off at the curb of Queen’s Park Circle to attend my first class, Anthropology 100 with Dr. Michael Chazan. I remember standing at the curb as my mother and grandmother drove off knowing that this was the first step of fulfilling my life long dream of being an Archaeologist. Well I thought to myself, this is it! Boy was I wrong.
I had believed my whole life that you chose a path and went down it. That was it, that was all. Now think about that as you read my posts, that path turned into a really wildly turning ride, and god the best is yet to come!
So where was I, I had started my life at the University of Toronto, good school, great community, and I loved what I was doing. I’m sure I will get into stories about my time there, but for now let’s skip ahead to the end of my final year.
Now that I was a fully educated Archaeologist, what the hell was I suppose to do! I was thinking about grad school, figuring out if I wanted to go into academia. I had “specialized” or should I say I had great interest in the illicit trade of antiquities, and protection of world heritage. An amazing professor by the name of Dr. Morag Kersel had spent her life in this area. Really, if I wanted to pursue this, I would have to give it my all like she did, and in the end there was no guarantee of anything. I decided to take some time to think about it, and because it was 2009 and we were in the Great Recession, the only thing I could do was fly back to Cape Breton and bang my head on a wall.
I didn’t want to be there, my family knew I didn’t want to be there. I started looking for jobs, anything to get me back to who I was away from the Island. I applied to any position in Toronto or anywhere that wasn’t Cape Breton while working on repossessing vehicles with my father.
I had a call to help set up an Oil Sands camp near Christina Lake, Alberta. SURE, I borrowed the money, bought my ticket, and showed up at this small office in an industrial park in Edmonton with my suitcase at 5 in the morning. I was in a van no more than 20 minutes later and headed for site which was a good six hour drive into the oil sands north of Edmonton. I spent 48 days straight in camp, cleaning and helping set up. It was close to Christmas and things would be shutting down for a bit.
I was so glad to get on the van heading out of camp, I was returning home and I was hoping to find something better. Before I had left for the Oil sands I had applied to the Canadian Armed Forces as another option. Well as luck would have it, as soon as I got home, I had a call that they had word that news was coming about my application, and I should stay in Cape Breton for a bit. This was Christmas time, and they expected the official word to come just after the New Year.
News came, I was set to go to the basic military training – boot camp. I left at the beginning of March in 2010 for Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, just south of Montreal to attend the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS). I was an out of shape academic – read FAT NERD – heading for military training. Yup, this was going to go smoothly.
As expected I failed my first fitness test, but not bad enough to send me packing, they put me into “Warrior Fitness Training”. It was a military fat camp, it wasn’t fun and about what you can imagine it to be. I had lost 60 lbs in a matter of months. I spent the next six months in boot camp, but at the end of it, this fat nerd graduated second in platoon out of 64 recruits.
From here they posted me to the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) to attend the School of Military Mapping at Algonquin College. Two years in training and a few years working with geospatial data at the unit. I was disenchanted to say the least about the entire system, and through a series of events, I voluntarily released from the military in 2014.
In January of 2012 I had met my wife Julianna and fast forward to July 2014 we got married in Sydney and was expecting our first daughter Willow. I had left the military in June of that year, and was working as a civilian on a casual contract in the unit. By September I was offered an opportunity to consult in geospatial intelligence in defence, but as an Independent Contractor, basically I had to start my own business if I wanted to take the position.
This wasn’t my first rodeo, growing up I guess you could say that I had the entrepreneurial spirit. I had started a small store selling art and crafts to visiting cruise ship passengers. In university, I was the typical poor student, and instead of living off $70 in my first year, I created exam study notes with my own research and points and sold it to other students for $15 to $25 a pop. It was great, and kept the spending money coming. While in the military I had started making jewelry, started selling it in local stores around Ottawa and on etsy. It was great well it lasted, but for me it was a hobby and not a business I wanted to pursue.
After taking the position, I thought to myself, why can’t I get other consultants working for me! Over the next year I worked hard on getting contracts, bidding on almost 100 positions. Government contracting is difficult, and meant more for the big guys. My target market was the Government of Canada and the different departments that had a geospatial component. A very small market, and crowded to say the least.
I had the bug, I wanted to be in business for myself full time without consulting or worrying about other people’s priorities. Julianna had started Willow and Rose which officially launched in June of 2017, but had great initial traction. Instead of teaching, she began working full time in Willow and Rose in the same way I want to work on Nowtaskr.
Wow, I just realized I made it this far without talking about my current lover, other than my wife. I won’t get into all the details, something better left to another post! But! But! Nowtaskr is Canada’s on-demand People. Think of us as a bastard child of Uber and a Temporary help agency but tailored for the little guy.
So I hope by getting this far you appreciate hearing my story, got to know me a little and I hope you stay tuned to my stories about starting a buisness / start up in Canada with all the ups and downs that come with it.