Adrian Duke

Adrian Duke

Co-founder and CEO

AGE: 28

COMPANY: Skyturtle Technologies Ltd.

“I couldn’t handle being told that I was going to be a lifer”

The story: At 18, like many young roughnecks on the Alberta oil patch, Adrian Duke bought a truck. When his boss told him that the purchase was a sign that he was “here for life,” the challenge set Duke off. “I couldn’t handle being told that I was going to be a lifer,” he says. “I enrolled at BCIT, saved up, bought an apartment in Vancouver and quit within six months.” After graduation, Duke found a job as a marketer with Native Education College, where he coached many First Nations teens facing problems similar to the ones he experienced as an 18-year-old West Coast transplant. “I saw the challenges and struggles they faced coming to the big city from remote communities and having no support networks here,” says Duke, who is a member of the Muscowpetung Nation in Saskatchewan. In 2012—after a series of ventures that included a window-cleaning business and a security company—a hockey buddy from Duke’s BCIT days approached him with the idea to manufacture waterslides. Duke saw an opportunity to improve the technology upon which multimillion-dollar waterslides depend: the control panels and systems necessary to keep the water running.

Markers of success: Skyturtle has raised more than $1 million from private investors and has more than 16 patents pending for its waterslide-related technology, which it develops and designs with a partner that has factories in Missouri and Iowa. Duke says that Skyturtle is also in talks to manufacture a slide with a straight vertical drop (and loop) for various parks in the U.S. —Jacob Parry

Meet Adrian Duke and the rest of the 2015 30 Under 30 winners at this year’s celebration event!