We caught up with former members of the RBC EPIC Founders Program and founders of SiliconBrane Inc. to tell us what they’re up to now! Read all about their journey, how they got started and how they feel they benefitted from the 12-week accelerator program that helped kick off their entrepreneurial journey.
Name(s): Kaushik and Charrie Ray
Faculty: Electrical Engineering (Kaushik – Uwindsor) and Biology (Charrie – Oakland University)
- Please tell us more about yourself and your company
Kaushik and I have been in business since 2017. It’s always been a dream of Kaushik’s to be his own boss. While we aren’t quite independent yet, we never stop working towards the goal. Since starting SiliconBrane, we have learned more about business than I ever dreamed I would know. This is due to the Joyce Entrepreneurship Center.Kaushik is currently employed at Leggett & Platt Automotive in Lakeshore as a Product Development Engineer. I am a work-from-home mom. Kaushik is all technical and when he gets home from work, his business is his pleasure. I take care of the logistics, design, and marketing. We have two great kids, Ariya and AJ, 1.5 years and 4 months old. Family is most important to us and the #1 reason we want to make our home business work.
- How did the idea initially come up?
The idea for the business has been in Kaushik’s mind from the start. In his hometown in Kolkata, Kaushik ran a small successful business where he sold and taught people to build and code robotic designs. However, when he moved to Canada, he noticed the demand just wasn’t there.After we got married, I believed Kaushik could build me anything I wanted and I kept pestering him for a pet tracker. In August of 2017, he applied for the Founder’s program and we needed a product. Obviously, the product we need most should be the one we decide to build. And so we did. Pawprint 🐾 is what got our business started and kicked our butts into gear. With the help of the Founders Program in the fall of 2017, we managed to build our minimum viable product. Shortly in 2018, we found out we were expecting our first child. It felt like everything got kicked into high gear. We worked like dogs to find funding and the week I was due was so busy that we couldn’t even pencil in delivering the baby. 😂 She was born a week after her due date, thank God.
Since the first kid, the projects seem to have been put on hold, and the progress moving very slowly. Not wanting to stop, we started pivoting our business model to include things that would help raise funding. We started Windsor Doodle, and we started looking at products to sell for SiliconBrane Inc. that would help the money flow. We were building so many websites and Kaushik had started collecting servers because they were like the ultimate computer.
I started looking for things I could do completely from home that would allow me the most time with my kids, but also bring in some much-needed funds. It dawned on me that I could make some really great websites AND we were already hosting our own, so we could design and host websites for others and it would be a great help. Because we want to give back to the center that got us all started, I wanted to get in touch with EPICentre. When we started out in the Founder’s program, building and hosting a website seemed so daunting and expensive. We had no idea where to start. I want to help others who felt like we did. I can build and design websites for small businesses and startups. Because I have been in their shoes, I can glean from them the best content for their website and show them how to get the most from their online presence. It’s more than just building a website – it’s a chance to give them the best possible online start.
- What lead you to the EPICentre?
We heard about the program from a student Kaushik had been working on a product with for a hockey helmet accessory. Eric Benson was one of the first to take advantage of the program and he had used some of the funding to have Kaushik help him build the device. Since then, Kaushik had been looking for an opportunity to participate.
- What was the most valuable lesson you learned while starting up your business?
Don’t be afraid to get started. I was always thinking that we needed to wait for this or wait for that. Always felt like we weren’t ready or we needed more time or the product wasn’t ready. Mostly, it was a lack of self-confidence in what we were doing. But it was misplaced and coming from a place of fear of rejection. Something I believe we all feel when starting something on our own from writing a song to building an office. Now that we have been doing this a while, I would like to say I’m not afraid of new things, but instead, I can say that I’m not afraid to try.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?
Take advantage of all the help you are receiving. Help isn’t always available for start-ups and everything should be a learning experience. Don’t pretend to know what you are doing, but rather take the advice of others who have done it before. There is always something to learn, no matter how different the business idea.
- Can you tell us a little more about what you’re up to nowadays?
Currently, SiliconBrane Inc is pivoting again. The story of small businesses. More information will be coming soon. But currently, we are building and hosting websites under the name CKR Websites and we are targeting small businesses and start-up companies. We are taking care of our two small children and we are weathering the economic warfare this pandemic has brought upon us. We never stopped working, maybe just slowed down a bit. But we have grown nonetheless as business owners and as people.