Mark Gauci, ETP '17
Country of Origin: Canada
ETP Year: 2016/2017
Education: Master of Technology Management (Memorial University/Marine Institute), Bachelor of Science (Major in Computer Science, Memorial University), Signals Operator/Avionics Technician (Canadian Forces), Former Financial Consultant Investors Group
Why did you participate in ETP?
As a grad student and a new technology startup, I liked what I read when the call for applicants went out. Not having a business degree or diploma, I felt that this program would provide me with the information I needed to get our business started.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned through ETP?
That entrepreneurs want to help other entrepreneurs. I remember being somewhat nervous about approaching other, more successful business owners. One would think: Do they have time for me? They must be busy!
The fact is this: just about all entrepreneurs have been where we all are. We have an idea, want to see it work, and yet we have so much to learn. It has been my experience that any entrepreneur you reach out to will gladly give you some of their time to help with advice.
How has this lesson benefited you in your business?
Getting advice from already established business owners has been nothing short of a blessing. I know there are books and videos on how to conduct business, however they pale in comparison to having a friendly chat with a local successful entrepreneur. Besides business advice, they almost always know someone who can help you get to where you need to go. Those referrals make a huge difference! It certainly beats cold calling people with the hopes that they might say yes. The moment you have permission to mention said business person’s name, doors open fast! And fast is what you want because business moves at an extremely fast pace.
What is the most valuable skill you developed through ETP?
Wow! There are so many! The biggest lesson was that networking is key. There are plenty of what I call “Happy Accidents” (Sorry Bob Ross) that occur when you connect with others in the business world. Even if an event is not specific to your business, you would be amazed how many people connect with you on other levels. Mentic Wellness Technologies would not be where it is today if it had not been for these networking opportunities.
How has this benefited you in your career or business?
While it might not benefit you immediately, almost everyone I have networked with has offered help and/or advice at some point and time over the last two years. This advice is invaluable.
What is the most valuable connection you made through ETP?
Funding agencies such as ACOA, InnovateNL (formally RDC), and NRC.
How have these connections benefited you in your business?
It has provided us with information that will help save our business precious resources while we get up and running. While these agencies do a great job in getting the word out there through social media, there is no replacement for meeting in person and being able to receive immediate answers to your questions.
What is your #1 tip to students considering entrepreneurship?
My number one tip would be this: If you are even thinking of starting a business, the ETP program is the program for you. I would encourage anyone who is able to sign up immediately. You will get far more out of it than you will ever put in. This program, coupled with the Evolution program at the Genesis Centre is a one-two punch for success. Both programs will help validate your idea, allow you to pivot as needed, and know where the resources are that can help you get started.
What are you up to now?
We (Mentic Wellness Technologies) have a letter of intent from Eastern Health to clinically trial our software. Pending the success of that trial, there is a licensing agreement on the table. With the success of the clinical trial, it frees us to pursue markets all over the globe. Autism is a global issue right now, and though there are many efforts out there to help people on the spectrum, the effort appears splintered. Mentic Wellness Technologies offers organizations that offer Autism therapy the ability to reach patients regardless of geographic boundaries, re-engages parents who want to be more involved, offers the opportunity for amazing research into how services can be improved, gives therapists new tools to work more efficiently, saves health organizations precious healthcare dollars, and increases communication between key stakeholders that oversee the various types of therapy a person with Autism may receive.
The beautiful thing about Mentic Wellness Technologies is that as each province, state, or even country that begins to use our software, it becomes stronger and stronger. As we unite individual organizations, we will see vast improvements in Autism therapy around the globe as we get these organizations talking to each other. As they connect with each other, it opens the doors for communication and further research. Questions such as: What is Newfoundland Labrador doing that could be beneficial to say New Jersey? And vice versa. And the best part? We want to base it right here in Newfoundland Labrador, Canada. Our ultimate goal as a company is to have the world come to our doorstep as it relates to Autism research. We want to be the nexus of global Autism research and support.
There are other developments afoot as well. While we are focused on Autism right now, we are already working on solutions in other areas of mental health. Keep an eye out, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. These are indeed exciting times.