A career path that included high school side hustles, advising high-impact firms at BDC, and a desire to create a more profound impact left Jabir Nathu with an entrepreneurial bug that he couldn’t quite shake.
His entrepreneurial spirit was kindled early and his exposure to Canada’s brightest CEOs and founders fueled his desire to take the leap and become an entrepreneur himself. This led to Jabir starting two companies — Cared Upon and Resident Views — both focused on addressing the underserved technology needs in the retirement care sector.
Jabir knew how to scale companies, but starting one was a whole different beast. He tapped into multiple local support systems to help get his venture off the ground, including New Ventures BC’s Venture Acceleration Program (VAP). His time in the VAP proved to be a pivotal experience that gave him access to advisors, mentors, and a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs.
In his current role as Co-Founder of Resident Views — a technology startup focused on enhancing communication and engagement within senior living communities — Jabir is applying the lessons he learned from Cared Upon and the VAP to iteratively build his new venture quickly and more efficiently.
In our interview with Jabir, he peels back the curtain on what it was like founding two companies, why he’s so focused on supporting the elderly, and the importance of paying it forward to new entrepreneurs.
You’ve had an eventful last few years. You went from advising high impact firms at BDC in 2021 to starting two businesses focused on providing better support to senior citizens. What gave you the entrepreneurial bug and how’d you decide to put your efforts towards enabling better care for seniors?
I have always had an entrepreneurial bug. Through school and university, I always had a side hustle going that often paid me better than whatever minimum wage part time job I was working.
But working with some of Canada’s brightest CEO’s and entrepreneurs gave me the inspiration to want to take some big steps to have an even bigger impact in my working life. That is what drove me to take the leap of faith and launch Cared Upon.
With respect to why work to provide better care for seniors, the biggest reason is they needed it. In the world of tech, the smartest people choose to work on challenges in fintech, cleantech, web3, e-comm, social networking, etc. Not enough of our resources are aimed at solving challenges faced by our largest growing demographic, older adults and seniors. Having worked in the retirement care sector for almost 15 years, I knew how underserved the market was by technology and if I could build something meaningful, it would have a tremendous impact on a group of people at a stage in their lives when they needed it the most.
You recently went through NVBC’s Venture Acceleration Program (VAP). What led you to apply for the program and what did you get out of it?
The biggest thing I was looking for was to be surrounded by a community of smart people. Launching a startup is pretty lonely, especially when your team is super small.
As a former advisor to businesses, I knew how valuable it would be to have a mentor and coach who had “been there / done that”. I knew I was pretty good at scaling businesses but starting them from the ground up is completely different. It was game changing to have someone in my corner who has no interest in my business other than my success to be able to bounce ideas off and help keep me focused on the big picture.
I got all I wanted to and then some out of the program. What was uniquely valuable was the quarterly updates in front of the team of advisors. Each of the advisors has a unique background and skill set. Getting feedback and advice from such a diverse, multi-disciplined group of accomplished people was like having access to a specially curated advisory board.
Over the last few years, you’ve founded two companies. What did you learn from building the first company (Cared Upon) that you’re bringing to your current venture (Resident Views)?
A ton! Firstly, the VAP program gives and reinforces a great playbook to test new ideas in a market. There is a ton of focus on doing the right diligence to make sure that whatever you are building will find product-market fit and that once done, you will have a sufficient group of potential willing clients to make your venture profitable. When launching Cared Upon, I didn’t follow that playbook and probably invested more money than I should have in building features that I was more excited about than my clients were.
With Resident Views, we were able to learn the lessons from that and stand up a prototype for less than a couple grand and get it in the hands of clients to get their feedback so we could quickly iterate. Every penny was invested wisely. I worked with my coach/mentor to quickly build a go to market strategy and execute on it. It was all about iterating super quickly.
Earlier this year, you participated in IRAP’s Digital Marketing & Sales Accelerator. How important is it to get access to more niche and targeted programs as you build your startup?
You need so many different skills to launch a start-up and run a business. As a founder, for a long time, you need to wear all the hats in your organisation. You are the CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, head of sales, head of IT, head of marketing, head of HR, and so much more. Along the journey your biggest pain points will be in different areas and it is critical to be able to tap into people with deep expertise in those critical areas as you tackle those problems.
The easiest way to explain it is if I am building a house, do I want my carpenter to tell me how to lay out my wiring and circuits or do I want an electrician? It’s valuable for founders to have access to specific expertise at the right times so they can build houses that can weather any storm.
BC is home to a vibrant startup community. How valuable has it been for both your startups to be around other thriving companies and tap into a community of like-minded entrepreneurs?
If you can be around others that are on a similar path to you, you have a real neat opportunity to amplify your learning and get things done quicker. All startup founders are just trying to figure out how to navigate this journey and I have learned something from everyone I have met in this community. There is a real “pay-it-forward” attitude among founders, which is so cool to be around.
Having a community of like minded people, especially those trying to solve similar problems or serving similar markets, lets you solve problems and create value together rather than trying to solve all the world’s problems by yourself.
What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs who are looking to build a tech company here in BC?
Don’t do it yourself! Surround yourself with smart people who have been on the path before. You will save yourself a ton of time and money (and probably end up having more fun too!).
Focus on product market fit and spend as much time talking to your future customers as you can.
Don’t be afraid to fail (and fail fast). If you learn something from the experience and take it to your next venture/project, that “failure” will only be part of the story of your success.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a huge shout out to the NVBC VAP team. They are so dedicated to helping BC based entrepreneurs win and succeed, it blows my mind. To Angel, Angie, Peter, & Rochelle, those that I worked closest with, you are such a big part of my story. Thank you!