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‘Wild ideas’

Commerce graduate channels creative entrepreneurial energy into her own business

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring 2018 convocation ceremonies.

By Susan White

Determined. Resourceful. Persuasive.

From an early age, Chrissy Rossiter demonstrated these and other entrepreneurial qualities.

“I’ve always been resourceful in a way. I might have owned, say, an MP3 player and went on Kijiji and traded it for a bunch of different things, something of higher value that I really wanted,” she said.

“I didn’t really grow up with a whole lot of money, but this is what provided me with the determination and persuasion skills that I have today.”

Her own boss

The native of Calvert, N.L., will cross the stage at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Wednesday, May 30, to collect her bachelor of commerce (co-operative) degree.

The co-operative education component allowed her to try different professional fields, she says, which helped her realize that working for someone else isn’t for her.

“I was fortunate to work for really great companies, but something that I noticed was that I had pretty wild ideas and this creative energy,” she said.

“That doesn’t always fit into an organization. I’m a student and I was highly valued, but I’m not an exec-level, decision-maker. It was really hard for me to not have that creativity and not really see the ideas that I had or the work that I was doing have an impact.”

‘Entrepreneurship bug’

Ms. Rossiter decided to capitalize on her natural instincts and explore entrepreneurship.

She signed up for New Venture Creation, a class that teaches students how to develop a business from the idea phase to launch. During one of the classes, the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE) gave a presentation about recruitment for its inaugural student ambassador team.

Ms. Rossiter applied and was accepted. The group was tasked with championing entrepreneurship on campus among fellow students; they also had the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley.

“I just had this entrepreneurship bug after Silicon Valley. Through that, we also had this really solid group of student entrepreneurs. We were all encouraging each other and coming up with different ideas.”

Award-winning idea

Ms. Rossiter soon started Peachy, a business idea that won her $10,000 in MCE’s 2017 Mel Woodward Cup.

Peachy offers software that helps home-care agencies manage the day-to-date administrative side of the business so they can “spend their time on value-adding tasks, the things that matter, which is ensuring that the quality of care is as high as it can be.”

In the fall of 2017, Ms. Rossiter found a business partner in Diego Zuluaga, a computer science student at Memorial, who became Peachy’s co-founder and chief technology officer (Ms. Rossiter is the chief executive officer).

In 2017 she completed the Evolution Program at the Genesis Centre, placing second at its annual Pitch and Pick contest. In 2018 she was one of only four Atlantic Canadians chosen to participate in the prestigious Fierce Founders boot camp for female entrepreneurs at Communitech, a public-private innovation hub in Waterloo, Ont.

The Memorial experience

“My time at Memorial exposed me to opportunities and people that I wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t here,” she said. “By doing the co-op program, I was able to work in different industries. Having those experiences helped me shape what my own wants were, and what I didn’t want.”

Post-graduation, Ms. Rossiter plans to continue her entrepreneurial journey.

“I’m going to be working full time on Peachy. It’s going to be great to just do one thing.”

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