At just 23 years old, Capilano University business student Daniel Dubois has already started multiple businesses, spoken at We Day Vancouver and completed The Next Big Thing fellowship. Add to this his recent recognition as one of BCBusiness Magazine’s 30 Under 30 business leaders and Daniel emerges as a striking example of where a fearless entrepreneurial spirit can lead you.
The spark that started it all was ShareShed, a business idea that Daniel pitched for a class assignment. ShareShed is an online platform for people to rent outdoor equipment from locals without the added expense of buying the equipment. Inspired by the sharing economy, a socio-economic system of resource sharing, Daniel was motivated to build a business that promoted access over ownership, as well as community building and environmental sustainability.
“Share Shed is an outlet to work on something I am truly passionate about,” says Daniel.
Born in Vancouver, Daniel grew up in False Creek and learned his earliest life lessons on the basketball court from his long-time mentor, former Harlem Globetrotter, Mel Davis. Davis preached discipline and dedication, and this mentality earned Daniel a basketball scholarship to Capilano University in 2012, where he began his Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
However, Daniel’s interest in business goes back to his early days. In elementary school he embroidered clothes with a custom logo and went door-to-door selling his wares. Soon to follow were two more clothing lines and a laneway housing company. This business savvy is also how Daniel turned a backpacking trip into a business plan.
Before university, Daniel travelled Australia for six months. He tried couchsurfing, a hospitality exchange system, and regularly went surfing and biking with equipment borrowed from his hosts. This experience left a profound impression on him and would become the root of inspiration for Share Shed.
The Sharing Economy
It was Carolyn Stern’s Leadership in Teams business class that introduced Daniel to the sharing economy and provided him with an opportunity to explore this newfound interest from a business perspective. Remembering his time in Australia, borrowing sports gear from friends, Daniel came up with the idea for Share Shed. He then took this business plan one step further in a self-directed study with business instructor Mitra Kiamanesh.
Encouraged by what he had learned, Daniel decided to travel to San Francisco in the summer of 2013 to produce a film series on the sharing economy. He visited tech giants like Google and Facebook as well as sharing companies such as Airbnb.
The combination of these experiences led to a life changing moment for Daniel: he was invited to speak at We Day Vancouver alongside Capilano University President Kris Bulcroft. We Day is an annual stadium-sized event that inspires youth to take action on local and global issues. Daniel told his story to a crowd of 20,000 people in person and many thousands more tuning in online. “I was humbled that I was even considered to speak at such an incredible event,” says Daniel, “It changed my life.”
The Next Big Thing
Following the milestone moment that was We Day, Daniel began a study abroad placement in Vienna, Austria. While there he received a research grant from the government of Austria to lead a 23-person team, under the supervision of a professional market researcher, to study the sharing economy in Vienna.
Meanwhile in Vancouver, eight Cap students were independently researching and testing theories about why people share. Daniel had organized the group-directed study prior to his departure to test his start-up assumptions.
So after many months of study both abroad and at home, Daniel was ready to build his business. In September 2014 he began The Next Big Thing fellowship, an intensive six-month entrepreneurship program that prepares business-minded youth with the skills, mentorship and support they need to turn their ideas into reality.
Fellows are provided with a work space in Hootsuite’s ski-lodge style offices, $10,000 startup money, mentorship opportunities and workshops in everything from crowdfunding to coding. It was an intensive and exhilarating experience for Daniel that transformed his simple school project into a start-up that now boasts 10 part-time employees.
Further support for his burgeoning business comes from his first place prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards Vancouver Regional Competition, where he won $100,000 of in-kind support. He has received marketing and consultation services as well as mentorship meetings with local entrepreneurs like 1-800-Got-Junk’s Brian Scudamore and Roger Hardy of Clearly Contacts.
Daniel credits the Vancouver business community for encouraging him to continue on this journey, “we have such a great culture of wanting to be of value to other people,” says Daniel. “Almost every conversation in the start-up community ends with: how can I help?”
At present Daniel is focused on launching Share Shed and growing a strong community in Vancouver. He eventually hopes to add a skill share component to the platform, which would allow people to share their expertise as well as their equipment. Ultimately Daniel hopes to revolutionize travel and ownership, so that anyone can have access to what they need to live a vibrant life.
As for advice? Stay true to yourself says Daniel, “it’s about truly knowing what you value and using that as a filter in every decision you make.”
Submitted by Marketing & Communications, written by Natalie Walters
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- Building a community of sharing
- Students leave We Day inspired and hopeful
- We Day inspires a generation
- Daniel Dubois: Sharing his way to success