Ben Baldwin of answers 5 questions

Toronto-based Ben Baldwin is the co-founder of no less than 2 successful start-ups.  Most recently, Ben started ClearFit of which he is still building and expanding. According to Ben, “ClearFit is the only online hiring solution that makes it easy for anyone to find and hire the best person.” Let’s start chatting with him…  

What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?

Our business makes a positive difference in peoples’ lives, so that motivates me.  We’re matching people with jobs in which they’ll find the most fulfillment and success.  We’re also helping companies with their most critical task: hiring employees, and we’re doing it in a way that’s quick and easy, so we eliminate a great deal of pain for them (e.g. hiring mistakes).

If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?

I would tell them to learn how to fail and, therein, learn what they’re good at.  In other words, failure isn’t bad if no one gets too hurt and you’re learning from it.  Don’t make stupid decisions, but also don’t be afraid to take risks.  Canadians have a lot to learn from Americans in this regard: the word “risk” is a positive word in the US, while it’s a negative one up here in Canada.  Once you learn how to take risks and fail, you’ll learn so much more about yourself and your limits, what you’re good at and what others will and won’t do: an ongoing lesson in human nature.

In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the last 12 months?

Everything being bought through app stores.  First, mobile app stores like Apple’s came to prominence, but now we’re seeing a lot of companies hosting their own app stores for full scale apps (pioneered by, like Google, Bell and some banks.  This will simplify software and make it easier to integrate together, so we’ve seen the emergence of more small companies with highly specialized software.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological advancement over the next 12 months?

As I said above, I think we’ll see the emergence more small, highly specialized software firms, birthed from Y-Combinator-type funds, up to “super angels”.  APIs and large distribution platforms allow integration with existing marketplaces, so these “long tail” solutions can find life with very little money.

Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?

I would definitely say Jim Balsillie, because he’s taken a very brash, unapologetic and therefore “non-Canadian” approach with RIM.  I like that he’s a fighter … that he has balls.