Luminultra CEO Encourages Young People to Apply for BDC Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Pat Whalen was a finalist in last year's competition admin February 6, 2015

The Business Development Bank of Canada is looking to name another Young Entrepreneur of the Year! The annual award is a great chance to get your business the exposure it needs to get to the next level, as well as a chance at $100,000 (1st place, $25,000 for 2nd place). The award winner will be decided primarily on the basis of open, public voting through the BDC YEA Website.

Click here for contest info, eligibility criteria, and frequently asked questions.

BioNB Communications Intern Matt Grimshaw sat down with Pat Whalen, CEO of LuminUltra Technologies in Fredericton and finalist in last year’s competition at age 33.

“For anyone who is doing cutting edge stuff in New Brunswick, this competition can get you exposure across the country,” says Whalen.  “High profile places like Ontario and Alberta are often viewed as the leaders of the Canadian economy, but creative world class technologies can come from anywhere in the country, no matter how big the province is.”

Click here to learn about all of the 2014 finalists and click here to learn about Pat Whalen’s “Clear Waters” project.

Why did you apply for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award?

LuminUltra does not have as large of a customer base across Canada as we would like to. We have been more successful across the United States and we export worldwide. We’re looking to increase our exposure across Canada.”

Why should we encourage young entrepreneurs to apply for BDC’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award?

Not only is there the prospect of a cash prize for finishing in 1st or 2nd place, there is the opportunity to gain exposure for your products or services across the entire country.  Furthermore, taking the time to recognize and showcase your achievements is something that needs to be done for peace of mind and to recognize what you need to do in order to continue to improve.

Did your participation in the 2014 competition increase your profile?

It elevated the profile of both myself and the company. We had inquiries and new customers as a result of the exposure during last year’s competition. And obviously for myself, it doesn’t not look bad on a resume. The exposure helped people better understand what we do, how long we’ve been at it, and how successful we’ve been.

Did the business ecosystem in New Brunswick support you in any way?

We received great support from all levels of the ecosystem: within the Province of New Brunswick, BioNB, and partners like the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, ACOA, and more. People from New Brunswick, and more specifically the people of Fredericton, rallied the support, rallied the troops, and spread the word during the actual contest. It was fantastic.

As a Young Entrepreneur have you faced any struggles as a leader?

Oh certainly. I’ve faced many struggles and have had to learn on the job. I’ve run companies since I was 28 years old, and at that age you only have a certain level of experience and wisdom you can apply. You have to make up for it with an awful lot of hard work. That is not unfamiliar to every young entrepreneur. You have to work hard to learn your competitive edge and new ways to do things that others may have not tried before. I’ve learned a lot over the years that has made me who I am today. I haven’t necessarily done everything right the first time, in fact I’ve probably made a mistake more often than I’ve done something perfectly. But that’s part of learning and improving, and on the other side lies opportunity to learn and apply new techniques that people haven’t thought of before.

You mentioned that young entrepreneurs have to put in hard work. What are your work hours like?

I start the day early and generally finish somewhere between 7 or 8PM. Weekends are more of a normal work day when I have the opportunity to work uninterrupted on specific tasks. Generally, I’m putting in around 80 hours a week. I’ve been doing it for around 10 years at this point. It’s not for the faint of heart!

I spend my time trying to run a business and educate the market, but we’re getting very close to a point where it’s not about me anymore. We’re in the process of better handing the ball off to our employees and extended network. At that point I can be more creative and demonstrate more leadership. I can direct traffic and help people understand where we need to go next.

What does LuminUltra currently have on the go?

We’re launching a new product line this spring; software that allows for smart interpretation of the data that our products render. This is actually the same project that we submitted for consideration in last year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. We didn’t let the fact that we didn’t win the grand prize dissuade us from forging ahead. We expect to launch our new product line in a few months to coincide with a new marketing launch and rebranding.

Fredericton-based LuminUltra Technologies is a global leader in microbiological testing for water-related industries, offering solutions that are fast, versatile, complete, and portable. They export to 75 countries worldwide “on every continent except Antarctica” and are constantly innovating. Click here to visit their website.

Recent milestones for Pat and LuminUltra:

  • Pat has been awarded the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year (2014)
  • LuminUltra named one of Progress Magazine’s Atlantic Canada’s Top 101 Companies (2nd year in a row)
  • LuminUltra named one of Progress Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in Atlantic Canada (6th year in a row)

Click here to learn how to apply for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.


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