Dear Queen's Supporter,
You never know where engineering might take you – or how or where your learnings will prove to be most useful.
I finished my Engineering Chemistry degree in April, and I was seriously considering a career in investment banking. Instead, I opted to attend the Queen's Summer Innovation Initiative.
The Initiative is an entrepreneurship and innovation program offered jointly by Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Queen’s School of Business, intended to challenge students to develop and take innovative ideas and products to market and launch social initiatives for the benefit of our university, our community and our world.
At the Summer Innovation Initiative, it is all about teamwork. I joined forces with two other engineers, Navied Shoushtarian and John Gluszak, as well as a Commerce student, Matt Rabinovitch. We were all interested in software; more specifically, we were looking for a way that we could potentially change the world with software.
The Innovation Initiative combines self-directed learning with classroom instruction, offering access to top-level CEOs as part of the experience. It was tough at times. The amount of work we had to do was mind-boggling. Some nights, I didn’t sleep.
The result of our combined efforts was developing Listn (getlistn.com) – a smart phone app that allows people to share and play all the music in one another’s libraries by leveraging music services like YouTube, Spotify, Rdio and Soundcloud – a simple solution in an extremely complicated industry.
We started building the initial prototypes for Listn at the Innovation Initiative. An original idea, a solid business plan and a strong team were enough to interest Montreal’s FounderFuel – the top accelerator program in Canada. From that point on, it’s been a whirlwind! We are now preparing our marketing plans and building the back-end infrastructure to enable millions of people to access our app.
FounderFuel was invaluable in connecting us with investors, but the genesis of Listn was really the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative. I tell people that if I hadn’t gone through this unique program, it would have taken me 15 years to grasp what I learned in the last six months.
Queen’s prepared me for entrepreneurial success in so many ways. My undergraduate degree in Engineering Chemistry challenged me, and taught me how to manage a heavy workload on a day-to-day basis. I learned how to deal with stress, how to problem-solve, and how and when to take risks. All of these skills are things that investors value when they are seeking opportunities. And these skills have given me the opportunity of a lifetime.
Queen’s students and graduates are leaders – and we can do so much more, given the opportunity. And that is exactly what your gift to Queen’s will do. I hope you will join me today in making a gift to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Dean’s Excellence Fund, where every gift creates opportunity.
Mike Schmidt, Sci’ 12