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Alice is a young entrepreneur who dares to dream far. She graduated as the Valedictorian from the University of Toronto and now works in audit at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Outside of her full-time job, Alice is active in the modelling, dance, and music industry. Beauty and brains – she is the reigning Miss Toronto 2017 and a national finalist in Miss World Canada! In between all of these commitments, Alice lived a secret double life, developing an anonymous social media platform for University students. Read on to find out more!
What some interesting experiences you had that made you who you are today?
One of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I had growing up was moving around a lot and changing schools 13 times. That’s a lot! I was constantly meeting new people, finding new friend circles, and testing my adaptability. This really developed my interpersonal skills and it played a key role as I grew up. I became more flexible about working with different types of people and it made collaboration .
What are you working on?
uMentioned – an innovative and free social media platform for University students that grants user anonymity.
What was the spark of your project?
When we (a group of University students) started 5 years ago, the idea of anonymous social media was still quite new. The original spark was to develop a tool that can help students feel more connected, make new friends, and use social media in a positive way. I wanted to volunteer and dedicate my time to creating something that will help those students who felt like just a lonely number in a big university. Mental health issues were a very important issue and we needed to get more creative at potential solutions. In order for students to trust us, I hid my identity and only told everyone that I was merely just another university student volunteering. The amount of time I put into administering the network was close to a full time job – a secret full time job that I could not tell anyone about.
How do you make your product compelling to students?
How would you take advantage of an opportunity to communicate with your university campus without revealing your identity? And have the service for free? We gave students the power to post messages for the whole campus to see, or message other students directly. All user activity was guaranteed anonymous. I thought it was very interesting, both from a psychological and sociological point of view. The possibilities were endless!
Some students posted about funny jokes, others posted stories. Some students posted complaints about school life, some posted looking for students with similar hobbies. I’ve seen people make new friends, girlfriends, and boyfriends through the platform. The most unique outcome of this free product is how much the online content affects real life offline. What I mean by this is that conversations on the platform sparked offline conversations – which eventually fulfills our goal of helping students establish real connections. Social media can be negative when people become obsessed and start to perpetuate a false sense of reality. But uMentioned helped connect the dots between social media and offline interactions.
What, in your opinion, makes a good entrepreneur?
A good entrepreneur is a good listener. You need to be willing to listen to the negative critiques, the people who challenge your ideas, the devil’s advocate, and the people who disagree with your ideas.There is always room for improvement and your ears should always be open.
Which tools do you use on daily basis?
The one tool I cannot go without is actually a very simple one – a calendar! I am all about planning ahead and managing my time to maximize utility. No matter what it is you want to do or achieve, the first step is always learning how to manage your own time.
Teach us something!
I’ll tell you about something completely off-topic to teach you a fun fact of the day. Beauty pageants are not all about superficial looks – it’s about beauty and brains! Coming from a lot of experience as a contestant, I can tell you that a lot of my transferrable skills were developed from pageants. For example, a major component of judging is always the interview – and that interview is much more challenging than a job interview because the range of topics that could be asked is much broader. I became very polished in my speaking skills, body language, confidence, and more. It actually helped me land my current job at PricewaterhouseCoopers!
Let’s look into the future. Where do you see yourself in a couple years?
As I have recently graduated university, I think my product will also change with my stage in life. When I was attending university, I was a part of that social community that uMentioned was catered towards. But now that I’ve graduated, a new problem persists amongst my age – finding a good job. Now I want to develop a new service model that helps students find employment after graduation and helps them develop their professional skillsets.
What is the end goal?
My end goal is to get the most out of the time I have. Nobody knows how many years they have left to live, so I take it day by day. Every day, I try to make it meaningful, do something I am passionate about, and develop myself as a person. I don’t take time for granted, so I do not want to waste any of it!