Mentorship is an important part of the Junction program. The founders in this spring’s Junction cohort are receiving invaluable mentorship from an expanded team of Community Advisors — a group of Calgary entrepreneurs and innovators who have the knowledge and experience to help them grow. This week we’re meeting George Urquhart!
Throughout his career, George has experienced working in everything from multinational corporations to regional players, as well as a small professional services company he started with a few partners. Some of his resume highlights include his time with Microsoft, Cisco and SAS. George has always enjoyed working with startups, and even within larger organizations, he took a special interest in working with startup markets.
Believing in the need for a diversified economy, while recognizing the talent that already exists in Alberta, George sees mentorship as a meaningful way to help shape Alberta’s future. He’s involved not only with Junction, but also GrowthX and Venture Mentoring Service of Alberta, and believes Alberta has what it takes to transition toward a new economy focused on more environmental solutions.
“I do believe we have to get to net-zero, not only as a province or a country but globally. We have a lot of energy knowledge here so we could be a leader as we look for alternative sources,” he says.
“I believe that the potential is here. We can leverage the assets and the knowledge base that we have, into something new and pivot our economy.”
Beyond mentorship, George also has his own consulting company, where he works with entrepreneurs to structure their sales, marketing and business development functions.
When it comes to starting a business, George encourages founders to focus primarily on the product-market fit and value proposition before spending capital on solidifying the product, especially in the early days. This means leveraging the resources available to make sure they have a strong foundation before hiring or making significant financial decisions.
Once the product-market fit is right, George says it’s all about creating and modeling a culture.
“Building a successful business is not just building the business itself, it’s creating that culture, that great place to work. People are motivated by different things, the reality is if you can create a great place to work, people will want to stay,” he says.
“I’ve worked at a number of different places throughout my career and the places that I’ve enjoyed the most, they were also the places that had a great work culture. I think that’s really important.”
George’s recommendation: Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
“It’s a great story about building Patagonia, but it’s also a story about a team that had beliefs and just went out and did things.”Back