Welcome back to Startups in Canada’s series of Startup Spotlights!
It’s been a while since we’ve focused on these spotlights, but we’re back again with a good one! This week we sat down with Stephen Benson, Co-Founder & CEO of Stubii based out of the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area.
Stubii connects businesses with high-performing students (from MBA and graduate programs) and talented professional consultants eager to take on your business project. Their community of professional consultants is diverse, flexible, and ready to execute on any given project (cost analysis, business writing, market research, sales process, etc.).
Having enough cash on-hand to do projects that need to be done and then having the right talent on-staff to deliver these initiatives is extremely problematic for start-ups and small businesses. Stubii removes this friction by providing short-term loans and a bridge to critical skills through an online marketplace of on-demand Certified Independent Consultants.
Now time for the fun stuff!
Let’s talk about Stubii: An interview with Stephen Benson
Q | When did you start your company and what was your source of inspiration or motivation for starting up?
The company was started in early 2017. It was prompted by being a serial entrepreneur and facing the same types of obstacles that Stubii is designed to overcome……cash flow issues and not having access to the right talent at the right time.
Q | What is the meaning behind your company’s name/ how did you come up with that name for it?
The business model was initially targeted towards only post-secondary students being the Independent Consultants as we thought they could translate their knowledge and under-utilized time into discretionary income to help finance their education. With that in mind it seemed logical that STUDENT or some derivative would be included as part of the company name.
After an unsuccessful and painstaking 5hr meeting to establish the name, I went home and asked my 12yr old son over dinner what he thought of the ideas. He wasn’t too impressed and he came up with his own name for the company in 5 minutes which we ‘stole’.
Be warned, you can sometimes over think things. That initial 5hr meeting had some very intelligent people sat at the table.
Q | Do you have any co-founders or employees? If so, describe your team’s dynamic and how you connected.
The team is made up of a couple of co-founders who met after an introduction from a member of the teaching faculty at an MBA school. We’re in the process of looking to add full-time technology and AI staff so we can have someone else to talk to when we’re having heated discussions over business model pivots and product development roadmaps.
Q | What have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced with starting up? Describe them a little bit for us.
Biggest challenges? – cash flow and the amount of time we have had to spend working in the business instead of on the business. During the bootstrap phase it’s very difficult to find quality people willing to invest as much as you’ve invested when you look for ‘free’ support. This lack of cash flow really hindered the pace at which the business has been able to develop and commercialize.
Q | Have you reached any significant company goals or milestones that you’d like to share with us?
For sure. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with quite a few clients across a very diverse range of industries. It’s been a great experience and has given us an opportunity to bring on Pro Consultants who fit the criteria for what our clients are looking for.
Q | What’s next to come for you and your team? Any big plans (that you can share with us, of course)?
Like I mentioned earlier, we’re in the process of looking to add full-time technology and AI staff that will help our business grow and our technology scale as we dive head first into new markets.
Q | If you could pass on one piece of advice to entrepreneurs just starting up, what would it be?
The best piece of advice I could pass on is the piece of advice that was passed on to me over coffee by my mentor and a senior VC……. “you must be prepared to kill your own baby”. It sounds harsh but it’s totally true. Sometimes we get too close and too connected to our idea that we don’t see that the world just isn’t ready for it.
Q | What’s your favourite quote or saying that you’ve either heard or say yourself? Why is this your favourite?
“90% of all start-ups will fail and 50% of small businesses will not reach their 5th year anniversary”. It keeps us grounded and keeps us working diligently every day to stay out of those statistics.
Q | Finally, as a Canadian entrepreneur, how has your experience been starting up in the Canadian ecosystem? Do you feel that you and your team have received significant support?
The Canadian ecosystem has changed significantly since I started my first business in 1995. Back then it was every man for himself and people generally looked at you as a bit of an ‘odd ball’ for not wanting to stay in your secure 9-5 job with guarantees of benefits and pensions. Today I’d say that the inverse is true. The challenge of starting your own business is something exciting and there is so much out there for people wanting to start their own business. However, it can all become a little overwhelming and you sometimes need the support of a mentor who can sit outside of your business and give you real solid advice. From a Stubii perspective you can never get enough significant support. There’s always more that we feel we need which is one of the reasons we started Stubii in the first place. We wanted to be a part of that start-up and small business ‘toolbox’ that helps them stay out of the statistics mentioned in my favourite quote.
Looking to follow along Stubii’s journey and keep up to date with everything they’re getting up to? Be sure to check them out at:
Startups In Canada (SinC) is a startup directory, showcasing and featuring local Canadian startups, their founding members and their vision. We’re also an online resource for founders to share their skills, knowledge and experiences with their founder peers. Our vision is to further accelerate and strengthen the startup community here, within Canada.
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