Entrepreneur Interview Series – Charlene Nadalin
President & CEO
What is your story on why you started Amintro?
My story is simple: it’s the story about a mom and her daughter. Several years ago while visiting my mom, it dawned on me that her circle of friends was decreasing due to a variety of common reasons including: relocating outside of town/province, divorce, death and illness, just to name a few. My mom had been widowed for many years and was still actively working, but I was concerned with how her diminishing social groups would impact her health and quality of life as she entered her 70s, 80s and 90s; her retirement years. I was also concerned with the quality of contributions my brother and I would be able to make in her life, and so I began to do research which involved focus groups and physicians. I discovered that social isolation and loneliness is a growing epidemic effecting millions of Canadians each year. I set out to create a means of helping adults over the age of 50 years avoid the pitfalls of loneliness through the development of new friendships, and that is why I started Amintro; to help my mom make more friends.
What is your greatest challenge while developing Amintro, and how did you solve it?
My greatest challenge was a lack of experience in the realm of technology and software development. Amintro is a social impact enterprise that is using technology to help millions of people across Canada, and so I solved the problem by educating myself, first. I took a coding course to understand the nuances of coding and what it actually looks like/entails. I then spent time attending as many technology-centric conferences, meetings and seminars, and joined several innovation centres such as Communitech in Waterloo. In doing so, I not only continued to learn about technology, but I was networking and meeting people who could potentially become involved with Amintro. My goal was to educate and network for the purposes of being knowledgeable enough to make the best decisions for Amintro. As a result, I found my Chief Technology Officer/Developer.
How do you deal with the toughest moments during the development of Amintro?
There are a number of activities I do to help me deal with the stress I experience during tough moments. I workout to alleviate the stress and burn off the energy. I seek counsel from experts in my network including mentors and advisors. I take a break and try to step back in order to view the big picture, and stay focused and clearheaded so that I am able to address the current challenge and overcome it.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. It’s easy to praise ourselves for our strengths, but I feel it’s crucial to acknowledge your weaknesses as well in order to know the areas in which you will need experts involved. Have a plan for today, tomorrow, next year and the next 5 years. Starting a business is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. You must be prepared for the long hours, the stress, the anxiety, the unknowns, the what ifs, and the friends/family who aren’t supportive.
What is your top book, or podcast you recommend to entrepreneurs?
I don’t read many books for entrepreneurs because I was raised by entrepreneurs, and so was exposed to the highs and lows, the realities and the strategies for success when running your own businesses. That being said, I did enjoy reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and the other book I enjoyed reading was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.