Humans of INKspire

Owen Osinde | Entrepreneur

“For those who are not familiar with you, what is your story and what is your journey?”

My story started around 2010. I was in 10th grade and I was asking myself what I wanted to do with myself and my future. My parents started asking me, “What do you want to be? Do you know what you want to do?” At the time, I had a lot of ambition. I wanted to make something out of myself and I knew I wanted to be somebody. I started falling in love with the idea of entrepreneurship and dabbled within it. I spotted an opportunity: people needed snow shoveled off their driveway and I was the first person to do it for them. I got that $20 in my hand from about 12 neighbors and I really felt the value of earning money my own way. I didn’t want to go work at Harvey’s or deliver newspapers where I’d get my paycheck every two weeks. So when I was in high school, that feeling was still burning inside of me. At that time, I was ordering clothes from a website called karmaloop.com. When they came I thought, “Why am I buying all these brands when I know I can do something like this myself.” So I got the idea of starting my own clothing line. I didn’t know anything about building a company but I read all the books. I got consumed with becoming an entrepreneur and teaching myself the basics on accounting, design, setting up a website, registering a business, and marketing. I started becoming the person I wanted to be and followed my heart.

My first year at Ryerson I was selling in the dorms and built a team. The brand was called Recruits Clothing. I pivoted to another idea, sneakers, which was the most successful venture I’ve had to date. It was a web application that allows people to resell their sneakers online. It got 1000 users Canada wide, and this is all during school. I’ve taken my idea and found the ways to make them into a reality. Now I’m continuing with my new brand, which is a media company called Hustle. We create content that is focused on business, culture, music — all through the lens of entrepreneurship. We have a weekly newsletter which we send out to about 4000 people on our email list and our weekly podcast. We also sell merchandise on our website. We’re building a solid online media company which provides people content on entrepreneurship and celebrating the process towards their success.

“What motivates you?”

I just want to be great. I believe that I’m on Earth only once. So if I’m here, I might as well push myself to become the best version and leave a legacy. I want to be remembered for contributing something on Earth, and the best time to do that right now is through building something that provides joy and is of value to people — that idea motivates me. Everyday I have to be motivated because you never know when your last day on Earth is. You have to always remember that nothing is promised. We can’t take anything for granted. Everyday you have to wake up and put your best self forward. I noticed that’s what motivates me because I know each day is a gift. I want to know that I never gave up and I lived every day to the fullest.

(That’s a great answer. It’s very true by the way.)

“What are some of the biggest things that you’ve taken away from your entrepreneur journey?”

The biggest thing I’ve taken away is that it’s a marathon. I think a lot of people glorify becoming an entrepreneur and making it a sexy thing. A lot of people want quick success, and I fell victim to this very early on. I have big goals and big dreams of what I want to do, and I set a timeframe for it. But one thing you realize when you’re working towards something is that each thing is out of your control — it has its own time. You have to understand that it’s a long process. It’s not built for everybody. And if you’re really in it, you have to be 100% in all the time. You can never take a day off and take your foot off the gas pedal.

Also, you have to surround yourself with the right people. You feel that you can do everything on your own. That you’re the best person to do it. But without a team and without the right individuals around you, it’s extremely difficult to get things going. One thing you have to have is perspective and you have to realize that to be successful. You need to share that with other people and bring them on board and build together. That’s the only way you’re going to become the person you want to become is if you join forces with others and leave your ego at the door. Relinquish that feeling and make it a harmonious team effort.

“How do you stay motivated in your losses and grounded in your wins?

Whenever you build something and you have to stop, it takes a mental toll on you because you put your heart and soul into it for years. To give it up like that sucks. I remember when I shut down Sneaker Deck and I didn’t have anything to work on. I felt so empty inside because that’s all I knew for the past four years. Staying grounded is easy for me because I know the ups and downs of building a business. Becoming an entrepreneur is 99% losses. One big mistake we make in business is always celebrating the successful people and highlighting it as if that’s an everyday thing. But behind the curtain, there’s millions of people who are struggling and failing, and we don’t talk about that. You get caught up in “you can really do it and you can launch something and become successful.” But once you start, you realize how hard it is. So once you’re in the process, you realize that becoming successful is about taking 99% losses, and then making one win. And ultimately you only have to be right once in business — and you’re there.

“What is your advice to youth who are trying to find their passion or who have not found their passion yet?”

Honestly, people just need to relax. This whole “finding your passion early and being worried that you’ve not found it” is ridiculous to me because you have so much time to live. Things can change anytime for the better. We live in an era where technology allows you to expedite the process of becoming somebody really easy. So my advice would be find your passion. Have a keen eye, be curious to try things, put yourself out there and really get your hands dirty. When you’re so young, you have a lot of opportunities to try different things because it’s such low risk. You just have to be out there. If you don’t know what it is, it’s okay. You just have to keep trying and by trying things, you’ll find it. We see a lot of people who are successful at a young age and that doesn’t mean that you have to live up to that pressure. We have this idea of “I’m gonna be successful by 30.” Even at 36, you’re still so young. You just have to remove that pressure from yourself.