Michael Cheng

Michael Cheng

Company Builder

AGE: 24

“When you start to truly see failure as a stepping stone and not as a sign of incompetence that’s the key trait to a successful entrepreneur”

Calling Michael Cheng a serial entrepreneur hardly does him justice. The 24-year-old, who splits his time between Vancouver and Toronto, has founded 21 companies since the age of 13 (including his latest effort, Covr.ca, a music discovery site). His biggest success to date is WittyCookie, a digital marketing agency he started while still a student in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Now in its third year, WittyCookie was profitable within its first six months, and today it employs 50 people and has 1,200 customers worldwide. Cheng will be the first to tell you not all his companies have been successful: failure to him is a badge of honour. “When you start to truly see failure as a stepping stone and not as a sign of incompetence,” he says, “that’s the key trait to a successful entrepreneur.”

Profit is also overrated, he says. His measure of success is delivering value to stakeholders, “because a company is like a family: it’s got the employees, the investors, the suppliers, the manufacturers. If you’re not delivering value to your extended family then I think it’s time to call it a failure.” –David Jordan

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