Daniella Molina is a student in BCIT’s Construction Management program and is originally from Venezuela. She’s got 10+ years of experience with her own architectural firm back home and is now launching her own drafting company – Metric Inch Design Studio – this fall in Canada.
As Molina walks into the interview room wearing a crisp blue shirt, she has an air of cool confidence and humility: two solid characteristics of a successful person in the making. She describes juggling a full time courseload and bringing her dream startup company to life. As an international student, she has had to twice face the hurdles of bringing her plans to fruition.
Over the last few months, Molina has carried out some much-focused networking, and has a lot to thank BCITSA Entrepreneurial Services for.
She says it was an on-campus poster that started it all. She was scanning the campus soft boards and came across one that boldly asked: ‘So You Wanna Be An Entrepreneur?’ That very question made her heart leap with excitement. She religiously attended the seminars and was eventually chosen to be a mentee as part of their Mentorship program for entrepreneurs. It opened her eyes to the laws and policies that go hand-in-hand with starting a new business in Canada and helped answer her many burning questions.
The rest was history.
The pride Canadians take in local startups has been a driving force in inspiring me to start my own business.
Tell me about the E-ship program?
It was still in its initial stages at the BCIT Student Association when I first heard about it. My first contacts were Darshana and Sarah. They were very approachable and welcoming. I had no clue about working in Canada and starting a company from scratch seemed daunting to me. They organized a series of seminars and workshops to educate us about business law and the paperwork involved. They broke it down into simple steps for me. As part of the mentorship program, they would then seek out entrepreneurs with a plausible business idea and connect us with experts who were leading a successful business in a related field themselves.
Who was your mentor?
I was lucky to be matched with Eric Lee, a famous architect in Downtown Vancouver. He jointly owns VictorEric Premium Homes and is a well-known name in the architectural community.
How did you decide on wanting to start your own company?
Initially, I wanted to learn more about the Building Code in Canada, earn relevant experience through my co-op placement at BCIT and move to either Australia or Venezuela.
While studying at BCIT, I maintained an active role in local Venezuelan meet-up groups and got to connect with a lot of people. One of them further introduced me to a client who wanted someone to draft their architectural designs for engineers. I took the opportunity and when my work was finished, I kept getting referrals to other clients… I began working part-time as a freelance draftsperson and collaborated often with my BCIT classmates. It was not until I met my current partner, a Canadian, that I began thinking of growing roots in Vancouver. The idea of starting my own company would give me the freedom to work independently and on my own terms.
How did you finalize your logo and name?
That is a great story! One of my architect friends in Los Angeles helped me come up with it. Canada has a history of using both Imperial and Metric Systems as units of measurement. We had discussed that it would be cool if the company name reflected this. The moment we decided on Metric Inch, it sounded perfect to me. My friend went on to design a minimalistic logo and I fell in love with it instantly!
What makes your company standout from
I’ve had a vision for making the design process as transparent for the client as possible. A lot of work and time is put into designing and drafting and architectural drawing, and clients tend to feel restless if not updated with progresses made. I will officially be launching an exciting platform that will fill this void, the details of which will be released on the company’s website in the coming months.
What inspired you to start your company?
Canada cherishes locally owned businesses and I have always wanted to give back to the Canadian community for being so welcoming. The pride Canadians take in local startups has been a driving force in inspiring me to start my own business.
This was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
What are the challenges you have faced so far?
Firstly, I did not know where to begin. My mentor and the Entrepreneurship team encouraged me to break it down into simple steps. My previous experience was primarily with working in my native country and adjusting to Canada was challenging. I had to let go of all my previous notions and begin with a clean slate and this was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
As an international student, I am required to acquire a post-graduate work permit in order to apply for full-time work. Understanding the paperwork was tedious on my part, but the Canadian government is efficient and processes applications without bias, for which I am grateful.
What is your message to prospective entrepreneurs?
I believe that the Canadian education system is very flexible and the instructors are willing to help. All you need to do is ask. I would strongly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and joining networking groups across the city. It really opened avenues for me and I became more aware of Vancouver’s cultural diversity. Lastly, I feel that making a plan is great but being open to adapt to new circumstances is even better.
Learn more about Daniella’s company Metric Inch Design Studio by visiting their website: www.metrichinch.ca