His thirst for knowledge led him to Queen’s and further fueled his already lofty ambitions, and now the sky’s the limit for this young grad with big ideas.
Sushee Perumal, MBA’07, is a member of a new globally-minded, sky’s-the-limit, business-meets-philanthropy generation.
A native of Bangalore, India, he came to Canada with his family in 1996. After graduating from McMaster in 2002 with a degree in Computer Engineering, Sushee went to work as a Bell Canada business analyst, quickly climbing the corporate ladder, becoming Associate Director of Bell Systems and Technologies. In his spare time, he was golfing, sailing, running, and learning to fly. While working full-time in a senior management position with Bell, he got his commercial pilot’s licence; he dreamed of one day owning his own charter airline company.
“I like the technical aspects of engineering,” he says, “But I’m also interested in business, in global opportunities, and I have a passion for new ventures. So I started to think about going back to school and doing an MBA.”
That quest led him to Queen’s. While he was a student here, he noticed there might be a market for a charter airline service that operated out of Kingston airport. He shelved the idea during the economic downturn, but it’s still in his back pocket
In the meantime, when long-term local business owner, Barry Gordon, approached him with a new business idea, Sushee leapt at the opportunity. YouBidLocal is a new concept – a fully managed on-line auction service useful to those who are looking to buy, sell, or fundraise.
Barry Gordon, whose three children all are Queen’s graduates – Adam, QMBA’09, Heidi, LLB’10, and Martin, Artsci’09, Ed’10 – has been with the 50-year old family business, Gordon’s Estate Services, since 1978. Over the years, he’s seen changes in how things are done. More and more business is happening online, and so he realized there was an untapped opportunity in the auction world. He brought Sushee on board because, as Gordon says, “We needed someone who knew about emerging technologies and global resources. When we had software issues, Sushee went straight to Nortel and talked to the actual programmers. He helped us recruit expertise from Russia, Serbia, India, the U.S., and Canada.”
Explains Sushee, “Typically we help people who want to convert their antiques, art, collectibles, furniture, jewellery and any other residential or business assets into cash. This is a new option for those who are downsizing, relocating, dealing with a family estate, or liquidating or restructuring a business. It’s a unique concept that’s green because it’s about recycling goods, and it works at a local level, with huge potential to become much bigger – global even.”
He goes on to note, “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support and tools I gained at Queen’s. The Queen’s MBA program greatly enhanced my networking and relationship-building skills.”
It was through those networking skills that Sushee accessed some start-up funding for YouBidLocal through the PARTEQ Angel Network, which is comprised of PARTEQ, Queen’s alumni, and Kingston investors.
YouBidLocal, started in 2010 as a local company. It’s already Ontario-wide, with plans to grow further. There’s a YouBidLocal smartphone application for those who want to stay on top of auction activity wherever they are, and the company’s web presence is expanding constantly. “There’s a lot of potential here,” says Sushee, “We’re just starting to reach critical mass. Who knows how big this could get?”
Sushee’s vision is big. He’s keen to build something from nothing and has his sights set on a global enterprise. He also wants to find a way to help his father who has returned to India to run a not-for-profit organization that microfinances rural schools there. And he’s still thinking about flying – which he does every time he gets the chance – and about future opportunities for expanding the Kingston airport.
He put his career on hold this summer when he returned to India to marry. His partner, Emma Lo, is a doctoral student at Queen’s in Pathology and Molecular Medicine. The Taiwanese native is planning a career in cancer research.
When talking about how the wedding planning went for such an international, jet-setting couple, Sushee grins. “My parents handled everything. They were happy to do it, and we were happy to let them. They’ve even organized Emma’s traditional Indian wedding dress,” he says. “We had other a few other things on our plates.”
Are you, or do you know a young alumni entrepreneur whom we should profile in the Review? Please let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org. – Ed.