Humans of INKspire

Shaan Hooey

“I’m 15 years old and I go to Upper Canada College. I really like innovation and entrepreneurship, I’m actually the CTO of a startup that I recently founded. My business partner and I have been working on a start-up since early May. Essentially, it’s about changing the way glucagon is injected into type 1 diabetics.”

Shaan Hooey

“How did you come across entrepreneurship and starting your own company?

“My sister has type 1 diabetes. I noticed how hard it was to inject glucagon. Glucagon injections are used when a diabetic person has very low blood sugar. My family was worried, about my sister because they were worried whether or not the average person would be able to inject glucagon into my sister when she needed it.

Even though the idea came from me, I have to give a lot of credit to two major groups that I’ve been a part of that have helped me develop my idea. First of all, The Knowledge Society has been super helpful in teaching me a new way to think. I feel that the current education system teaches you only to care about accomplishing tasks and finishing deadlines. Rarely do we ever have the experience to focus on independent projects that have no real timeline and milestones instead of deadlines. I think that if you think of things that way you find areas of opportunities and you really try to solve problems in the world and that’s how you get places in the field of entrepreneurship.”

“How does your family react to you in creating this company?”

“I don’t think they’re overjoyed or anything, they’re glad that someone’s taken care of it. Ultimately, my family and I both realized the importance of really being aware of what you value in life — I honestly value making a difference in my sister’s life so that it’s easier for her to live a normal life.”

“Are you open or curious in exploring other career paths since you’re only 15?”

“It’s actually interesting that you brought up curiosity because I think that’s what is leading me down the path of entrepreneurship. I really think that the world is shifting to a place where all the information you’re ever gonna need in your life is going to be online, and because everyone will have access to the same information, it’s only a matter of what you do with it. I think that entrepreneurship is the best suited career for that. I just find that there’s an endless amount of problems and not enough people trying to solve them.”

“How do people react when they know you’re only 15?”

“To almost everybody that I’ve met at social events, it’s a really big shock to them and I think the automatic assumption is that I don’t know as much as I do. I think you just have to counter that by proving that you know as much as they do. You’re not having a conversation just for the sake of having a conversation — usually, you go into these social events wanting a specific thing, and obviously it’s not about using other people, it’s about matching their intellect and proving to them that while you may be 15, 13, any age really, you can still match their intellect.”

“What’s the most difficult thing you had to overcome?”

“The most difficult thing that I think I’ve had to overcome was last year, I was doing cross-country and I really thought I had a great season. I’d trained really hard, ran five, six times a week, and then the city finals came. Our team performed really well — we came first in the city and I finished first overall. In that moment, I felt like that was the peak of my life, and thought it was amazing that all my hard work paid off.

But the minute I finished that race I had this excruciating back pain, which just kept getting worse and worse. I had to spend a good five to six months recovering with physio, pilates and any sort of recovery that I could for about four hours every week. It was really hard for me because I had to miss out on the provincial championships, my hockey team, my track team and my cross country team at provincials. It was really hard to watch and not participate. I almost feel like I lost a big part of my life in terms of sports but it was sort of a blessing in another way because I really had the chance to find out who I was. It was really hard to adjust, but I found so many different passions to not only fill my time, but to make me happy because I really started enjoying so many different things other than sports that I may not have even been able to do if I had been playing sports at the time.”

“How do you balance everything with your busy schedule?”

“A trick that I use to help balance my life is to divide a pie chart by five, each section dedicated to the five most important things: family, friends, sleep, personal goals and school. This helps me visualize what I need to pay the attention to. Furthermore, if you were to visualize those five parts in the pie chart as someone juggling balls, three of those balls would be made of rubber because if you were to drop them that would bounce up again and two would be made of glass. The two that are made of glass are family and friends — that’s because it’s the most important to me, and it should be the most important to everyone. If you drop your family and friends, you’ll never be able to them back.”

“What advice would you give to others?”

“I would say the key thing is to not let age be a barrier to anything you do. You’re never too young to do anything. You can do anything as long as you know what you’re doing. You can learn things independently — you can go to the library look on a computer and you have the same access to information as anyone else does in the world. Use the resources around you and work at it. If you know what you’re talking about, age doesn’t matter.

The second thing is find problems worth solving. Don’t say ‘I just want to invent this because it’s cool. The truth is a lot of people end up doing that and a lot of people end up having unsuccessful businesses because the customer is thinking, ‘Well, how does this help me, why would i actually need this, it’s not solving a problem.’ Know your audience and know how to solve the problem, those are the two basic things that you can use build and create any business. Don’t worry about money, money will come if the idea is amazing. Other than that just do stuff — do stuff that matters.”

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