Becoming a Youth Entrepreneur: Finding a Problem You’re Passionate About Solving by Nadia Ladak

Simone, Kiara, Nadia and Harit – The Co-Founders of Marlow

I’m what they call an “accidental entrepreneur”.

Growing up music was always a huge part of my life. I was in band, choir, played piano, and guitar. I loved music so much that I went on to study it in university. 

My immigrant parents weren’t necessarily thrilled by this decision so we cut a deal that I would also take some businesses courses to supplement the music program. I guess the joke was on me because I ended up really liking business and halfway through university, decided to switch my program to study business.

During my business program, I took an entrepreneurship course called “New Venture Project”. In this course, our professors told us that entrepreneurship starts by finding a problem you’re passionate about solving. My classmates and I started discussing different problems we all faced when one of them opened up and shared that she’s always found tampons uncomfortable to insert. 

Growing up, she was a swimmer, and was forced to use tampons to compete in her sport. However, because she found them uncomfortable, it often led to her missing practices and “pausing” on life when on her period. Her experience wasn’t in isolation. We learned this was a common story for millions of women worldwide. As we dug into this space further, we discovered there was so many problems in this space to be solved. We realized we had the opportunity to lead an entire movement to reduce the stigma around periods and to help people have access to education to learn about their menstrual health.

Menstruation happens to 50% of the population for 1 week every month for 39 years and yet, we’re expected to hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist. We’re expected to shove a tampon up our sleeve as we run to the bathroom, hoping no one catches us. 

As the school project went on, I continued to fall more and more in love with the problem we found and was determined to solve it. At the end of the course, our professors held a pitch competition where we won some seed money to start our business. I remember the exact words my professor said “I think you guys really have something here. You should seriously consider starting this business”. Starting a business?, I thought to myself. This was something I never thought about before. I’m only 22, how could I possibly start a business?

I turned to my parents for advice and they were very encouraging. “What do you have to lose?” they said. If something happens, the corporate jobs will always be there.

So post-graduation, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue entrepreneurship. I hadn’t set out to be the next Shopify or Facebook, I became an accidental entrepreneur because I found a problem that I was so passionate about solving that I needed to do something about it. When we’re in grade 12, there’s so much pressure to find the right program to study and we think that it dictates the rest of our career and lives. But my story is the perfect example that it’s ok for things to change and what you thought you were set on doing, might not be what you actually end up doing. 

If I asked my 12 year old self where she thought I would be right now, never in a million years would she say running your own business. But pursuing entrepreneurship has provided me more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. From connecting with bright and innovative minds, to learning about ground-breaking technologies that will change the way we work and live, to getting to pursue my passion every single day, I can genuinely say that I love what I do.

Now it’s my personal “why” to encourage others to think about entrepreneurship as a viable career path. Business can be used as a tool to create a positive impact and to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. We need more of our young minds to consider this so that we can continue to work on the world’s to do list.