A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.
Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Jason. Jason Kryski is the CEO of CPG Labs, an incubator for marketing science-driven consumer products, and Uncoil, an early stage software company. He is also executive chairman of Strawhouse, a venture growth agency based here in Kelowna. When Jason is not busy working for one of his three companies, you will find him hanging out with his son or doing some home renovating.
[Editor’s note: When does this guy find time to sleep?!]
We recently caught up with Jason to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey and what advice he has for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Where are you from?
“I grew up in the Shuswap. When you grow up in a small town you have to learn to get along with all kinds of people. I learned early how to build different types of relationships, and I think it has been helpful in my career. There is a kind of grounding that happens when you connect with those you normally wouldn’t.”
Can you speak to your entrepreneurial journey?
“Everybody in my family has worked for themselves, so I am a fourth-generation entrepreneur. The only person I have ever worked for was my dad when I was a teenager. I have generally been a solo-preneur, so my work has always been self-directed. My business ideas have always started out by wanting to have a better understanding of something and finding a way to get paid to learn it.”
What is your favourite part about your role(s)?
“The thing that excites me about all of my roles is the ability to create. I am not a big details guy or operations guy. What I really enjoy is leading a team and helping them figure out what they need in order to make things happen.
“As a leader, it takes a lot of effort not to get sucked down into all the small details. You have this broad base of experience to help your team, but there is a balance between helping them and, well, getting in the way of their growth. As somebody who is deeply impatient, I always want to just give my team the answers because that would make them move faster. It can be hard to remember that it wouldn’t make us any stronger in the long run. It’s this constant tension for me. I am starting to get to the point now where I am like, I don’t f—king know what the answer is,’ and that’s really exciting for me. I get so stoked when my team is able to surface what those answers are. You never want to be the smartest person in the room right?”
What makes you good at what you do?
“I believe that we are a culmination of our own experiences. I’ve got a deep interest in things like sociology and psychology as well as marketing, advertising and technology. So I’d say it’s really the ability to have a relativity deep understanding of different areas of study or information, as well as the ability to aggregate those things together, and then conceptualize a vision of how those things interact. I’d like to say that I’m an aspirational polymath. Hopefully, I’ll get there!”
[Editors note: A polymath is a person with a wide range of knowledge. It sounds like Jason is on the right track!]
What advice do you have for somebody interested in being an entrepreneur?
“Being deeply curious and really wanting to understand things is so important as an entrepreneur. Well, as a human, really! I always try to go five-whys deep on something. Like my son when he was three. He would ask ‘Why are we going to the store?’ and I’d say ‘for food so we can eat’ and again he’d ask ‘Why?’ and I’d respond ‘Because your body needs food for energy!’ and then again he’d ask ‘Why?’ And I think you get the idea. When you go five-whys deeps you get to the core of an issue and when you understand things at that level you can start to make connections. Innovation is really about combining different ideas and having someone look at something in a way they haven’t seen it before.”
What is the best piece of advice you can share?
“I read an awesome quote this morning that said ‘Your new life is going to cost you your old one’. I love this idea. It’s so important to be open to change because change is a byproduct of growth. When people stop learning they stop growing. If you don’t remain curious and you don’t stay interested, then you just kind of like fade away, in my opinion.”
What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?
“As an entrepreneur, It’s important to find ways to become accustomed to risk. You must figure out how to get a handle on your fear because it’s all part of the lifestyle. I think getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a good way to understand that. When you are uncomfortable, you have to remember that it’s not something to be scared of. It’s something to be embraced. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable has been a maxim of my whole life.”
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