Last week, the school was visited by entrepreneur and former Olympian Jason Dorland, the first speaker selected by the Academic Council for the Scholar in Residence series.
Mr. Dorland began his visit by speaking to the entire Middle and Senior School. His morning talk focused on attitude and personal development and he stressed the importance of process over results; development over trophies. In 1988, Mr. Dorland came back from the Olympics without the gold medal he expected. His disillusionment led him to re-examine his “win at all costs” approach to rowing.
When he became a teacher and began coaching high school rowing, Mr. Dorland encouraged his athletes to strive for personal and team excellence. This attitude led his team to win four Canadian National Championships and set a world record.
At lunchtime, Mr. Dorland spoke to the Business Club about his experience as the co-founder, co-owner and creative director for an organic and natural food company called Skeet & Ike’s. His company, now in its tenth year, began when he was a student at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
“I wanted to test a market and see what I could do,” says Mr. Dorland. He introduced his first product, a peanut butter spread, at a market on Granville Island and sold out. After that, Mr. Dorland partnered with a friend and began creating and promoting many new products, responding to marketplace waves.
“We took products that existed and made them organic and all-natural,” explains Mr. Dorland. Since the company existed in a growing and competitive sector of the marketplace, it underwent a few transformations to survive, especially around its packaging. “By making all of our products look the same, we made a brand,” says Mr. Dorland.
The students asked many questions about going public, selling to a larger company, and start-up costs, which will be helpful to them as they launch their own business, an on-campus café, later this year.