Vincent Cheung, Tech Entrepreneur
Vincent’s Shape Collage photo app has over 5 million downloads and exists in 22 languages! “It’s really rewarding to know that something you created is used by millions of people every day,” he says.
This career started as a mashup of photography, visual design and software development. The business leadership came later. “I didn’t plan to start a company. This just started as a fun side project,” Vincent says.
Shape Collage started with a problem: what to do with hundreds, or even thousands of photos he took while working as an intern with Google in California. To share them with family and friends, Vincent developed software that arranges hundreds of shots into a collage of any shape within seconds. By contrast, Photoshop would take hours to create the same type of collage.
The idea quickly turned into a business, with million of downloads and many partnership offers from bigger software companies. Shape Collage now employs nine people and is looking at ways to expand. “Success is far more rewarding in a start-up. You know it is your own doing,” says Vincent.
A Day in the Life
“A typical day is whatever I feel like doing – I could work at home beside my cat or I can be in a coffee shop or a library. But most days I’m at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone”, Vincent says. The DMZ is a community of young tech entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers. It’s a shared workspace supported by the university, where bouncing ideas off one another and collaborating on projects is commonplace.
Running your own tech start-up means quickly mastering a number of tasks, including communications, sales, and business meetings with partners and investors. And don’t forget writing software updates for the program and future projects!
Vincent completed a BSc in computer engineering at the University of Manitoba, then a PhD in computer engineering at the University of Toronto. During his graduate studies Vincent worked as an intern at Google in California and Microsoft in Seattle.
Vincent wants to be a “serial entrepreneur”, expanding his business and starting new ones as opportunities arise.
Tips for success
- Diversify: Tech can mean many things, so follow your passions no matter what they are. Even if you’re interested in music or art, there can be tech components that you can capitalize on.
- Learn the basics: Even if you’re interested in the business components of careers in tech, learn the basics of computer programming and engineering so you’ve got authority to speak intelligently about products and services.