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Geoffrey Shmigelsky

Jul 1, 2001

by Chris Welner

Geoffrey Shmigelsky – Entrepreneur in Residence, University of Calgary

Retirement sits uneasily with Geoffrey Shmigelsky, the 32-year-old Prairies Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. Shmigelsky started Cadvision in 1990 with less than $1,000.

He sold the company last April for “a stupid amount of money” : Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes in front of the house overlooking the city kind-of-money. During two years of a non-competition clause in the sale of Calgary’s largest Internet service provider to PSINet, Shmigelsky has gone back to school to study genetics while he volunteers with the University of Calgary as entrepreneur-in-residence, a lecturer and mentor to students in the school of management. Shmigelsky is hungry for his retirement to end next April, and his focus is on genetics : “it will be bigger than the Internet.” He says it’s only a matter a time before DNA can be programmed with the ease of a spreadsheet, and “if you can control that, you can build anything you can imagine.”

Yearbook: Winner of the geek award. A total nerd from top to bottom. Socially challenged, computer literate to the n-teenth degree.

What’s the most important lesson for students before stepping out into the business world? Here are my “Top 5” things that make a successful Entrepreneur: 1) Drive : failure is not an option; 2) Think outside the box, be resourceful, don’t let the status quo define what can and cannot be done; 3) Don’t fear change, embrace it; 4) Believe in yourself, have faith, you can do anything you set your mind to; 5) Business instinct.

Major influence: My family taught me at a very young age that you could either work for someone or you could run your own ship. I grew up in a family business, the Foothills Motel in Pincher Creek, and my family still runs it.

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