Schopf Innovations Inc.
Tom Schopf, President
I sell speed… I can make you faster on your bicycle!
What was the inspiration for your company?
Three things came together to fuel the desire for me to open my own company:
1) The frustration of commuting from Hamilton to Toronto. I wanted a better lifestyle where I could focus on things I enjoy and not waste time sitting in a car.
2) I was interested in how composite materials could make inroads into consumer products.
3) People who have become successful by turning their passions (in life) into a business opportunities and taking the bold steps to make it happen.
Did you have an ‘ah-ha’ moment when you got the idea to start your business?
A friend and I compete in triathlons and we have a simple bet: at the finish line, the slower person has to serve the faster finisher a cold beer. This is a fun bet because typically, we finish within 1 minute of each other. One day, while doing a training run, I was thinking about how I could improve my race time. I realized that I could be faster by being more aerodynamic during the cycling segment of a triathlon.. How can I become more aerodynamic? By improving how I store things on my bike... "Ah-Ha! The Wedgie was born!"
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Evaluating challenges and coming up with solutions – I love solving problems
The most challenging part?
Raising funds to grow the business.
How do you measure success?
I measure success two ways:
- Customers telling me that my design have solved their problem(s)
- Financial success (designing products and manufacturing methods that allow for profits)
What is the best recognition you have received?
The best recognition I received is from one of my customers. Through his own independent testing, he proved that the “Wedgie” improved his performance during an Ironman competition by ½ hour and posted his result on-line http://www.goodguystri.ca/resource-articles/free-speed-on-the-bike
What are your plans for the next year?
Grow the business! This is a breakthrough year for my company. Now that professional and elite triathletes are using my products, I am ramping up for next year. In the near future, I plan to hire engineers/designers to develop new products, build a sales and marketing team, and upgrade my manufacturing shop.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals or students studying to pursue a career in your field?
Validate your designs in the real world and refine using feedback from your customers.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What’s your current tech setup?
I have four computers that are connected via a 10 Gigabit network between 3 locations:
• a design studio which consist of computer workstations
• a film studio where I film my “green screen” shots
• a well-equipped work shop where I build all my prototypes
What websites do you check daily?
If you were locked in Chapters overnight – what section would we find you in?
Definitely something technical. I have a broad range of interests, so it could anything from: film making, to composite design & manufacturing, to motorcycle repair, to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to…
If you could go to dinner with 5 people in the professional community – dead or alive, who would they be and why?
• Eugene Levy: Actor
• Steve Smith : Actor
• Florence Lawrence; Actress, Inventor
• George Klein; Inventor
• Mark Chamberlain: Business leader, investor
My guests would represent great entertainers because they are masters in communicating, great inventors because they are masters in finding solutions to problems and great business leaders who can make things happen.
Favourite thing to do in Hamilton?
Either sailing in Hamilton Harbour or running the “Around the Bay Race”
|The inspiration for the company was the lack of finding a job in the video game industry. I was tired of going to interviews only to find out I didn’t have enough experience. So I made the decision to put together a team and create my own industry experience by starting my own video game company. Read more...|