By: Nofil Nadeem
Kathleen Chan, Co-Founder of TMG and a UTSC alumna has been up to some exciting stuff since graduation. Nofil, Current President of TMG sat down with Kat to see what she’s up to in a classic rip-off of Oprah Winfrey’s “Where Are They Now?”
N: It’s so good to see you and this ice cream is particularly yummy and vegan. So, what have you been up to since you graduated from UTSC 40 years ago?
K: Haha, well after graduation I worked at Microsoft in Digital Marketing which was really interesting, but I decided that wasn’t really for me. I then moved to People & Code, a Toronto based tech agency crafting web and mobile based solutions where I was Partner. It was definitely a different side of the business, working at Microsoft where you’re the client to the agency perspective at People & Code. Along the way, I became a part-time professor at Centennial College where I created and taught their first digital marketing course. And now, I’ve recently started my own agency, Hype!
N: Omg that’s so cool. You’re like totally #goals. Starting your own agency is a really big step. Could you tell us a little bit about Hype?
K: Sure! Hype is a digital studio focused on emerging technologies to elevate growth. We leverage crazy cool tech of the future like Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality (an example shown below) to help companies solve real-world business problems today.
N: Could you tell us (me and my cat) a little bit about what your process is like? What kind of work have you done so far?
K: It all starts with understanding the client. The one thing we really pride ourselves on is having fantastic client relationships so we take a lot of time understanding their business and most importantly their growth plans. This allows us to build strategies that focus on delivering results rather than fluff.
In terms of the work we’ve done so far, we’ve restructured marketing teams to building brands from the ground up. Something we’re really great at is working to create and deliver strategies for companies that are in their growth stage. Hint Hint Wink Wink there may even be a popular health food chain in the mix 😉
N: Sweet! That sounds super fun and cute. To build off of that, what are some challenges you notice your clients face?
K: Because things like VR, AI and AR are still so new, sometimes the possibilities are daunting as much as they are exciting. There’s so much growth and it’s moving so fast that sometimes clients feel a bit overwhelmed with all the things that can be built with it. Most of the time, clients come to us with a business problem and we come up with a technology driven solution that quite literally makes them go “Wow”. It’s a great moment when we help bridge that gap and make this technology consumable for them.
N: Wicked. What’s an aspect of your business or an achievement you’re most proud of having been in the game for a little bit?
K: Every teeny tiny milestone is really a big achievement for us having been in business for about 7-8 months now. From getting our first client to signing our first lawyer to growing as quickly as we have, it’s been a thrill. The big projects are really exciting and growing the clientele is always rewarding. Especially, when you mention a name of a company you’re doing a project for to a friend and they respond with “oh, I shop there. I’ve heard of it!” It’s definitely very exciting. I don’t like to say we’ve made it just yet, there’s so much more to be done and learned, but every little step takes you closer and every milestone is cause for celebration. It’s heartwarming to see your work out there and seeing people like us interact with it.
N: I know Hype is really a partnership between you and Nathan (Tran Trinh for the Google savy) who you’ve been friends with way back since the TMG days of good ol’ 2013. What’s it like being in business with a friend?
K: It’s awesome. I couldn’t have picked anyone better. I think part of the reason why we work so well together is because of our friendship and our skills complement each other so well. For instance, a lot of my weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa. From TMG, we definitely saw we could work together and Hype has shown us that we can do that in the real world as well. I think a key thing when looking for a partner is to find someone whose core values and goals align with yours while of course making sure you guys can have a laugh every once in awhile. I’m glad to have had him through this sleepless, exhilarating ride.
N: Haha so you’re also #squadgoals. I’ve always been a really big fan of your dynamic so I’m glad it’s alive and well. Where do you see things going with Hype for the next little bit?
K: Our biggest purpose is to help make emerging technologies consumable for businesses so a lot of what we’ll be focused on in the while is growth – both in clientele and in the team we build out. I think one key learning I’ve taken from all the places I’ve worked at (starting with TMG!) is that your team is the most crucial element of success. As we move forward, I’d definitely love to build out a larger team and continue to build cool things with great people.
N: To cap things off, I know the prospect of starting your own business or becoming an entrepreneur is definitely a scary and stressful one that a lot of folks struggle with. What advice would you have for anyone in that situation?
K: Gosh, it’s definitely been a terrifying experience but incredibly fun at the same time. I’ve learned so much, probably more in the last 8 months than in the last few years of my undergrad. One thing that really propelled me to making the jump was looking at the next 30 years and trying to envision where I wanted to be. I realized that if I didn’t start now, I really wouldn’t get there. A successful business doesn’t magically appear out of nowhere, no one is going to hand you over the perfect opportunity with an immediate route to success, there’s struggles and sleepless nights but if you don’t start now, when you’re still passionate and excited about the idea, when will you?
So in terms of practical advice, be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked. I’m not going to sugar coat it, you won’t sleep a lot and if you want results, it’s going to be on you. There’s no hand holding or path given to you like you’d have working for someone. But at the end of the day, you have the ability to dictate what you want to do with your business and it is so worth it seeing your ideas come to life.
N: Babe, one more question. Do you have a mantra?
K: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretsky – Michael Scott
N: Thank you so much Kat omg you smell so good
K: Thx bb :3