A LITTLE BACKGROUND
Kevin Li is a highly valued member of the entrepreneurship world at the University of Waterloo. Not only is he a Concept Coach, but also a Problem Lab Researcher. Originally from Harbin, China, Kevin studied Rec and Sports Business at UWaterloo, then worked in Student Services, followed by his role as a content translator for Manchester United. He then landed his role at the Problem Lab working alongside beloved Professor, Larry Smith.
KEVIN AT THE PROBLEM LAB
Simply put, the Problem Lab helps students at the earliest stage of their entrepreneurial journey. “The first step to innovation is to get the problem right,” says Kevin. “Too often startups fail because either the founders are solving a trivial problem that the market just isn’t willing to pay for, OR they jump too quickly into designing solutions without first understanding the problem. We really want to prevent that from happening. We run the Quantum Valley Investments (R) Problem Pitch every term to incentivize the early-stage startup founders to analyze important problems. If they can showcase their understanding of the problem, they can win up to $15k from us and once their ideas are more developed, they can apply to the Concept $5k Pitch Competition and similar competitions.”
A major part of Kevin’s job revolves around helping early-stage founders with problem analysis.
Kevin also researches important problems and presents them to students, so that they can broaden the scope of their ideas.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
On top of the work Kevin does at the Problem Lab, he runs workshops with Concept, the Centre for Career Action, and for Engineering Capstone Classes. In fact, Kevin will be running a Concept Intro Session titled, Conversing with Confidence on June 8, 2021, where he will be teaching students how to talk to to stakeholders and leverage the conversations to validate problems and identify potential solutions. Like Kevin always says, the best way to ensure your business is successful is by validating your problem, and a great way to do so is by speaking to those who will be using your product or service!
“Maybe some people can’t say this for themselves, but I love my job.” -Kevin Li
The best part of all of this for Kevin is speaking with students, listening to their stories and helping them see all they have already accomplished. “Because students are so immersed in their problem, they know so much more than they are putting down on paper. It’s my job to help them pick out their best arguments and organize their pitch so that they can make the best case for themselves.”
SOME SOUND ADVICE
“Early-stage founders put a lot of stress on themselves to continuously hit home runs. It’s one thing to have ambition, but another to lose patience. As a student entrepreneur, it is okay to ‘take it slow’ in order to build a solid foundation. Many science-related ventures require founders to have deep domain knowledge which can only be attained through upper-year courses, and sometimes a graduate degree. You don’t need to create a unicorn by age 22. Take your time and write your own story. I hope our committed students can remember to eat healthy, exercise, get good sleep and read non-productivity books because both your body and soul need to be nourished!”
Kevin is an active coach in our network and is always excited to speak to new folks and teams!
Do you have an innovative idea or entrepreneurial question of your own? Book a 1:1 Coaching session with Kevin or any of our other amazing coaches, here and learn from their experiences as they help guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.