Mark Graham is the founder of RIGHTSLEEVE.COM, a leading Web-based promotional products company. Utilizing a mix of promotional products, design and technology, RIGHTSLEEVE develops merchandise programs for brand leading corporations across North America. RIGHTSLEEVE was founded in 2000 and has been the recipient of several industry awards. RIGHTSLEEVE was the National winner of the Dell Small Business Excellence Award, presented to businesses that use technology in innovative ways to enhance customer experience and company growth.
What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?
I like to make a positive impact in everything I do. I love being involved in projects where I can change the way things are done for the better. If there is no opportunity for me to make a lasting impact on projects I am working on, I get bored very quickly.
If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?
If there is any time to start your own business, it’s now. You are less willing to take risks when you are older and have competing commitments (family, mortgage, the safety net of an existing job).
In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?
The continued sophistication of social networks, and the extension of social networking into the enterprise. I think this will have a dramatic effect on how people at work communicate with one another as we just seeing the beginning with services like Yammer and Chatter. Better communication begets more engagement which begets a more enjoyable work environment.
If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?
Data mining and the semantic web. We’ve been talking about web 3.0 for a while now, but it has yet to really take off. I think that companies are getting a lot better at using the data available to help us make better decisions in our lives.
Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?
Mike McDerment, CEO of Freshbooks. In 5 years, Mike and his team have created one of the world’s most enduring and beloved applications with over 2,000,000 users. He and his team have made a pretty mundane task (invoicing) easy, fun and social. They have been laser focused on solving one point of pain for their customers and have been enormously successful by staying committed to this goal. There are not many other privately funded Canadian success stories like Freshbooks on the world stage.