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The Flight of the Gryphon: From Campus to Business - Part 2 with Tyler Zemlak

Bridget Coyle-Asbil | March 20th, 2024

On January 31st, the S2BN Guelph Chapter was joined by Tyler Zemlak from the Research Innovation Office at the University of Guelph for the second event in our entrepreneurial series! He shared his experiences, insight, and wisdom with all attendees and summarized some important lessons he’s learned along the way. 

Students and early career professionals came together to learn about resources available to those interested in startups. This occasion allows attendees to hear Tyler’s experiences firsthand and to gain valuable insight from someone with experience.

Tyler's Story:

Tyler is a trained academic with a PhD from Dalhousie University in Conservation Genetics. Although he loved school, he later discovered that his real passion was commercializing his innovative technologies. Tyler now works as a manager at the Research Innovation Office helping guide new entrepreneurs.

Lessons from Tyler:

Professional Career Lessons:

  1. Get clear on your values. 

  • Finding yourself in a work setting that resonates with your personal values can elevate your job satisfaction and foster a greater sense of fulfillment. 

  1. Conduct informational interviews. 

  • Connect with seasoned professionals in your desired field to gain insight into their daily responsibilities.

  1. Pay attention to how you manage your time. 

  • Time management is a foundational skill in a successful career. Get clear on your values. 

Innovation Lessons: 

  1. Your team is important - make sure they have complementary skills.  

  • Together, your team’s skills should enhance problem-solving, adaptability, and overall success.

  1. Leave the academic mindset behind for entrepreneurial success. 

  • The methodical thinking of an academic mindset can often lead to perfectionism which can hinder progress.

  1. Best innovators have grit - it gives the ability to stay focused on long term objectives even when facing short term challenges.

  • Grit helps entrepreneurs bounce back after failure, learn from their mistakes and continue to pursue their goal. 

Questions for Tyler:

What are some of the specific on-campus resources available to University of Guelph students interested in entrepreneurship?

Tyler provides office hours at the Research Innovation Office (RIO), students can visit him to get started planning out their ideas. There are also lots of incubator/accelerator programs students can register for with the RIO to start building their business ideas. 

Check out the RIO website for more details: 

How did your experience with the Guelph incubator/accelerator program shape your perspective on entrepreneurship and talent development?

This role has shown Tyler the side of an entrepreneurial manager or trainer. Even more so, this has taught him the importance of investing in people, not the ideas or the technology. Entrepreneurship is tough so investing in the right people with natural talent and a great mindset is important for their success.

Do you have any advice on balancing the pursuit of scientific innovation with the demands of running a business?

Both roles are very demanding and it can be hard to find a good balance between your research and business. I recommend having a strong team to help build the business and continue to progress.

How would you suggest cold messaging someone to set up an informational interview?

There are key elements you want to include when reaching out to someone for an informational interview. These include: a thoughtful subject line, briefly introduce yourself, explain how you found them, acknowledge their accomplishments, then directly ask for help. Here’s a template from Tyler for an informational interview cold email script:

What is your number one piece of advice for students wanting to pursue entrepreneurship?

It is important to really invest in growing your network. When meeting new people, be a giver, be curious, and be authentic and engaging. It is amazing what information and opportunities you can gain from networking! Set some time aside each week or month to focus on building your network.

We hope this career spotlight provided great insight into the exciting world of entrepreneurship! For updates and news, be sure to subscribe to S2BN's mailing list or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


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