VANCOUVER – As one of the young innovative start up entrepreneurs in Vancouver business community, Jonathan Zou and his team have proudly represented the city and won the global Google Startup Weekend championship in 2014. Graduated from BCIT (British Columbia Institution of Technology) Aircraft Maintenance Engineer program, Zou worked in a Alberta helicopter company for three years, and then he found his true passion is entrepreneur. With four years of being an entrepreneur, now Zou’s main focus is on 3D technology.
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F: Could you tell FANIQUE audience about yourself?
Z: I came to Canada after high school as an international student, then I went to BCIT for Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. After graduating, I’ve been doing my major for three years in Alberta as a helicopter mechanic. Then I came back to Vancouver and thought about doing something else. I did and tried several different business: importing and exporting, coffee shop, and local franchise fast food restaurant. Then one weekend, one of my friends asked me go to this event called Google Startup Weekend. And that, started the whole thing.
F: What is your winner project in Google Startup Weekend?
Z: We started this platform called Concept Kicker. The goal is to help designers to turn their 2D designs into 3D products by using craft binding and 3D printing technologies. Basically, only thing the designers need to do is to upload their designs onto our website. If there is enough people who want to purchase it, we will do the 3D modeling, 3D printing, and ship it to the fans. And then the designer will get part of the profit. This is one of the easiest way for the designers to turn their 2D designs into 3D products and eventually earn profits.
F: What’s special about the idea of Concept Kicker?
Z: The idea is helping designers to turn their designs into real life. We help designers to do product funding, run campaigns, do 3D modeling and printing, and also to ship out products. They don’t need to worry about anything else except the design.
F: Where did the Concept Kicker idea come from?
Z: This idea is actually from one of my teammates in this Startup Weekend event. He went on stage and pitched this idea, we thought it was very interesting because nobody was doing that. We had 9 people at the beginning, made a MVP during the weekend, and then we won the Vancouver Google Startup Weekend. After that, we kept going with the global Google Startup contest, and we won the global one as well.
F: How do you compete your Concept Kicker with the other website platforms for designers?
Z: Most designer based websites are more like a platform that provides designers to the buyers. There are a lot of platforms for the designers to showcase their designs, but nobody is doing pro-duction. Different thing on our side is that we do the production, shipping and handling everything else.
F: What do you find the most difficult and challenging in start up business?
Z: It’s difficult to find the perfect team for a lot people. Lucky for me, our team is very strong. All our teammates are very good at what they do. But still, working together can be an art. Not everybody could work on a start up full-time. Most of us are doing it part time and meanwhile having our own jobs on the side. We have to balance our life and work, also to balance our time to make the idea happen.
F: What do you suggest to build up a perfect team?
Z: Depends on what you want to do. If you want to open an restaurant, try go to the relevant com-munities. Basically, if you want to start up something, you need to dig into that community. Go out, meet more people. If you reach out enough, you’ll find the right person to work with you.
F: What are the top 3 characters you value the most when finding a perfect team member?
Z: Passionate, talented, and loyal.
F: What are the 3 words you use to describe yourself?
Z: I’m passionate. I’d say I’m talented too. I love discovering new things, so, curious, That’s why I’m on the road and have been doing different things. That’s the way life should be, and it brings you fun.
F: How do you see the connection between your business and fashion & art?
Z: Fashion and arts are huge industries. I was at Google Startup Weekend at Seattle, and there was an idea about fashion. It’s an app that asks people to vote for different outfits. Also In the Startup Weekend in Vancouver, there was an idea about connecting fashion bloggers and manufactures together. I tried to join the team but I didn’t succeed. It’s a great thing that your magazine have this section to discover the new possibilities for the connections and also to change and improve the fashion and art industry.
F: What is your personal tip to people who want to start up their own business?
Z: You don’t succeed on your first try. As long as you keep doing what you want, you’ll eventually find something that works. Just keep trying and trying, along on the way, you’ll find the way.