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Dream Big: Ask an Entrepreneur – Liz Dickinson

Name: Liz Dickinson, Founder and CEO
Company: Mio Global
Industry: Wearables
City: Vancouver, BC
Date of interview: June 1, 2015

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July 6, 2015

In an effort to expose youth to various career options, Kristi Miller, Vice President & Co-founder, First West Capital and Board Director, Junior Achievement of British Columbia, interviewed entrepreneur Liz Dickinson to explore entrepreneurship and the motivations behind her career path.

What does your company do? What’s your biggest opportunity right now? Biggest challenge?

Mio designs and develops world-class wearable devices for sport and fitness. Our unique value proposition is the ability to acquire accurate heart rate while a person is exercising even at high intensity. Our biggest opportunity right now is to create a wearable that can make a difference to a person’s life – not just a data collection device but something that can also analyze the data and give prescriptive advice as to how someone can improve their training or change their behaviour for greater health.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up. I became an entrepreneur because I had an idea for a product that I felt would really help people – a watch that would help people keep count of their calories consumed and burned as well as calculate heart rate without a chest strap. It was the world’s first product of its kind. I took a prototype to a trade show and had such great feedback that I decided to take a chance on bringing it to market.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

When I am in town, typically I get up, hit the gym or walk my dog for 4km – 5km. From there the day can go in lots of different directions. In the first years I did everything from product development, accounting to sales. As the company grew, the first thing I did was to get an accountant since of all the things I do, that was my weakest area. Over time the sales organization became really big and I was able to hand that over to a really qualified person. Now I spend my time raising funds, creating awareness for the company and mapping a strategy for the future. I travel all over the world and my travel has taken me to Russia, China, Israel, Europe and other exciting places. When I travel, I always try to get a bit of “me” time and see some of the sites. It’s a great way to really understand a country more completely.

What does success mean to you?

Success for me is to create a really well known brand that stands out as a leader in its field. That is really important. I like to be number one – never an “also-ran.” It’s not enough to complete the race – I like to win!

Has being an entrepreneur helped you achieve these things?

Yes and no. Yes because it has given me flexibility and control.  And, when the company does well, it provides a very good life for my family. No because I’ve had to work very hard and, at times, have taken on tremendous financial risk.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Things were a little different when I was 15 than they are now, and expectations of people were a little different when I compare what I was doing relative to what my children do and think is expected of them. The main thing I would tell myself is to slow down and not to be in such a hurry to grow up.

Your 25-year-old self?

To my 25-year-old self employed in a big company, I would say that being more patient with co-workers around me and understanding that everyone has a part to play and something to contribute would likely help me along in my career. But, as an entrepreneur, hire carefully as you need to make sure you only have “A” players on your team!

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