Before he became a contender on CBC's Dragons' Den, and before he sold his startup just months after its launch, Tim Ray had to convince his fiancée, Julia, that the timing was right to leap into the entrepreneurial unknown.
"She was nervous because several people close to her have had entrepreneurial failures. She'd prefer a 9-5 guy, but that's not me."
Since he first manned his own lemonade stand at age five, Tim envisioned becoming an entrepreneur. At age 30, immediately after completing his MBA, he came up with the concept for an online grocery group-buying website. Unfortunately, it was just ten months before his wedding date. And his fiancée had already supported him through business school.
"Her big argument was it's not the right time. My number one argument in return was there is never going to be a good time."
So, as Julia continued to hold down her 9-5 and pay the bills, Tim dove headfirst into his dream of developing his own company. But when he launched Food Scrooge and made his pitch to Dragons' Den just over a week later, he was spending money faster than he was bringing it in. He started to consider contingency plans — like bankruptcy.
"It was eighteen hour days and sleepless nights," says Tim. "But the number one thing I didn't want to do was transfer that stress to Julia."
Then Torstar Digital scooped up Food Scrooge and Tim along with it, making him GM of their new grocery division at WagJag. Closing just six days after his wedding, the deal got him off the hook with his new wife.
It was also a great opportunity to grow his company from within the safety net of a well-established digital media organization with a wide array of resources. Tim was thrilled to make the sale and relishes his new work environment. But his entrepreneurial instinct colors his view of his accomplishment — building and selling a business in just ten months.
"As good and successful as the acquisition was at Torstar, I see it almost as a soft failure. The company ultimately failed, because I had to sell my company. If I'd been successful I'd still be on my own. If I could have been president and CEO of the company for more than six months, obviously I would have loved to have done that."
Now, even as he builds WagJag Grocery, he's considering several new concepts. And next time around, when he wants to develop another company from the ground up, it will probably be easier to convince Mrs. Ray.
"Now I have full range to do future entrepreneurial endeavors with the faith of my wife."
By YouInc Columnist Tiffany Burns