At Red River College, we pride ourselves on helping budding entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into realities. From simple start-ups to international success stories, our graduates have a knack for leaving their mark on the marketplace.
Just ask Sean Sylvestre, (Business Administration, 2003) a recent grad who’s currently combining the training he received at RRC with the optical insight he acquired while working at his parents’ dispensary in Garden City. As the brains behind Eyewear Evolution, a new company that employs “virtual mirror” software to bridge the gap between traditional and online retailers, Sylvestre has come up with an innovative solution to an industry-wide challenge.
“What we’ve created is a virtual mirror so that we can actually showcase the product in 3D on (customers’) faces — on either a tablet, their mobile phone, or through their PC,” says Sylvestre, who also works as general manager at Joss Vision Care on Pembina Highway.
“Part of the issue when people come in to try on glasses is they take off their current glasses, put on the demo, look in the mirror and they can’t actually see what they look like — because there’s no prescription in the demo. We deal with that problem.”
The new software also has benefits for brick-and-mortar retailers, who can employ a virtual inventory that allows them to keep pace with online vendors. Since they no longer have to pre-pay for inventory, retailers can sell their product for less, and may be able to cut down on staffing and operational costs, as well.
It’s the type of creative, cutting-edge vision that’s typical of RRC grads, many of whom achieve success in everything from marketing to office management, finance to manufacturing. Whether they’re at the top of the chain of command, or just getting in on the ground floor, RRC alumni tend to be armed with the skills and determination to make a real impact on industry.
For his part, Sylvestre says the training he received at RRC helped prepare him for the pressures of the real world. In particular, as group leader of his entrepreneurship practicum project, he picked up valuable experience coordinating all aspects of a business plan — from conceptual stage to the trade show floor.
“It was less like your typical school environment, and more like, ‘This is the harsh reality you’re going to live once you leave these walls — so we’re going to hold you to that standard today,’” he says.
Though Eyewear Evolution is still in its infancy, Sylvestre’s prototype has already received raves from industry. He was one of six finalists in a recent Innovate Manitoba VentureChallenge, and he’s been conditionally accepted for an upcoming Canadian Youth Business Foundation initiative — making his the first Manitoba company to achieve such a distinction.
“I come from (the industry) side, so I totally understand what retailers are going through,” he explains. “It makes it easier for us to communicate with them about the challenges they’re facing. And it’s easier for me to articulate why we’re better!”
Click here for more information on RRC’s Business Administration program.