CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - P.E.I. entrepreneur Jamie Hill says starting a tech company is like starting any other kind of business – “you better be all in.”
“You better eat, sleep and drink it. And, the first thing you think about in the morning is get your feet running before you get out of bed because it’s very competitive,” said Hill, 58, who has been named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Hill will be honoured tonight at the chamber’s 2017 President’s Excellence Awards at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.
“And, if you want to be successful, you have to have a niche and you have to really strategize about the execution to be successful,” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s tougher now than it used to be. There are a thousand companies out there, all with good ideas. So, you’d better be willing to put everything you have into it.”
Hill said he didn’t expect to get the call from the chamber that he was the entrepreneur of the year.
“I’m honoured and a little bit humbled,” he said.
Hill, born and raised in Charlottetown, graduated from Holland College’s computer programmer/analyst program in 1984.
He has been involved with starting and serving as president for several tech companies from 1985 to 2017, including Online Support (OLS), P.E.I. Net, Cycor Communications and Genticity (chairman of the board and investor).
His most recent venture was iWave Information Systems, where he was an investor and CEO.
Hill left iWave in 2017 when the company was acquired by California-based private equity investment firm Sverica Capital Management LLC.
He now spends his time investing in both start-up tech companies and real estate.
Looking back at his career, Hill said a highlight was being involved with software development for the 1991 Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown.
Besides being “all in,” Hill said another key to a successful business is having a good idea and executing it.
“There is a thousand good ideas out there, and very few are well executed,” he said.
“During my time in software development and my other companies, I was able to attract some very talented people that made life very easy for me and were very helpful and useful in making sure that we executed – good personnel that have the same vision that you do.”
Hill is also involved with different charity organizations, including Special Olympics P.E.I. and the Children’s Wish Foundation.
Recently, he and his wife, Tracy, donated $100,000 to Holland College to establish an annual $5,000 entrance bursary for single mothers enrolled full-time.
“I always found that single moms would come to work with a different look in their eye. They were very eager and wanting to get to it because they spent money, got educated and we gave them a job and they were going to work hard. So, we (wanted) to give back to them,” he said.