“The challenge of being an entrepreneur and knowing that you’re not alone and that there are communities of people around to help you. And I think that was the biggest challenge for me.”
– Lee St James | Founder & President, Social Robots
At Haltech, our clients have accomplished so much over the years. Behind every Founder and CEO is a unique and inspiring story. We wanted to take the opportunity to give some of our clients a chance to share the story of their startup journey, and how Haltech has played a role. This is one of many in a multi-part series. This blog post will focus on the journey of Lee St. James and her company Social Robots.
Tell us a bit about you
To start off the interview we wanted Lee to tell us a bit about herself and the mission behind Social Robots. The Founder and President of Social Robots shared: “The company was founded in the fall of 2019. We offer robot helpers to engage and entertain older adults and staff in retirement homes and long-term care facilities. The mission of Social Robots is to help reduce social isolation, loneliness and boredom for older adults.”
What inspired you to start your company?
When asking about her inspirations and why she first started Social Robots, Lee responded by stating : “I was working with robots for banking and automotive in a design studio in Toronto, and at the same time, my father was diagnosed with a form of dementia. He and my mum moved into assisted living and I started to see, firsthand, the impacts of social isolation on him. And I took a sabbatical when I realized his rapid decline and that I needed to do some research to see who might be working on this. And nobody seemed to be working on the problem. So I decided to tackle it myself.”
What was the biggest hurdle you faced before you discovered Haltech
After talking about her inspiration to start Social Robots we wanted to know the biggest hurdle Lee had in her entrepreneurial journey. The biggest hurdle Lee faced was “the challenge of being an entrepreneur and knowing that you’re not alone and that there are communities of people around to help you. And I think that was the biggest challenge for me.”
How did you discover Haltech?
This led us to ask her how she discovered Haltech. Lee explained: “I had a couple of people who were aware of Haltech and they recommended that I become a client. I came to a Haltech event and then I joined and met Shann and thought ‘This sounds like an amazing place.'”
What has Haltech helped you with most?
We wanted to learn about which services and mentorship have been most useful for accelerating the growth of Social Robots. Lee replied: “Even though I had formal business training with an undergrad and a master’s, I really had been out in the workforce for, you know, over 20 years at the point I decided to start this business. So I was really ready to sort of look at the new frameworks and how people are managing this whole process. Marketing has changed a lot in those 20 years, so I was really just an open book, willing to look at the frameworks that they have. The five stages of successfully growing startups. And that to me was just invaluable.”
What services at Haltech have you used to grow your startup?
To bounce off the last question we continued by asking her about the services she’s taken advantage of: “I have participated in so many activities at Haltech. Both formal educational activities, and networking activities, and especially at the start of COVID, it was incredibly valuable how quickly they switched to doing virtual networking and activities. And that was a huge benefit to me because I was literally just at a point of gaining momentum and starting a pilot study. If I hadn’t been part of Haltech at that point, I’m sure I would have, like, dropped the whole thing. So it was so valuable to be part of this community and to really feel connected to that group. And now I get the weekly emails and I sort of see what might be relevant to me and I sign up for webinars.”
What role has Haltech played in your startup’s journey?
As we wrapped up the interview we wanted to ask a couple more questions. The first being what role has Haltech played in your startup’s journey? Lee responded initially by saying “Haltech has played such an important role in my startup journey and truly, I don’t think the business would exist if I hadn’t been a client of Haltech. It’s not just the formal education or the structure and the frameworks, which are incredibly valuable, but also the community and the sense of being part of a bigger group of people who are really committed to making a change in society.”
What would you tell others who are thinking of joining Haltech?
Following that Lee said she would tell other entrepreneurs who are thinking about joining Haltech to “go with an open mind and really be engaged and part of the community. Listening is so important and really understanding. I remember I got a piece of advice early on that this was going to take at least three years and I had to be patient and careful and I was like ‘Three years! I can’t afford that.’ And I’m so glad I have it because it’s been really important.”
Looking for more client profiles? Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any upcoming videos.