Alumni see potential in us we don’t always see in ourselves
Dave Cameron, BSc(Arch)’13, MArch’14, is emblematic of a new entrepreneurial culture that is taking root at the Faculty of Engineering.
Cameron graduated with the best academic training the Faculty can provide. At the same time, he and some McGill colleagues began building a high-tech start-up that could soon transform the way experiences are recorded and shared.
STORI is an 11-person software start-up developing an app described as the “first platform to share live-tracked experiences.”
A cross between Google Maps, a GPS path-tracker and a Facebook blog, the STORI app will enable users to share first-person, live-tracked accounts of everything from friends’ summer holiday adventures to journalists’ experiences in war-torn countries.
As CEO and co-founder of the company, Cameron says the app’s design and development started “more or less as a hobby,” but he and his team of McGill students are now dedicated to bringing the concept to market.
Cameron is a great example of how the time and resources alumni provide to help today’s students have paid off. He’s benefited from scholarships and earned a Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering prize, done an internship at a prestigious Montreal architecture firm and earned honours in start-up competitions like the FounderProject and McGill’s own Dobson Cup.
Cameron’s ties to McGill’s alumni network are extensive. Parents Stephen BSc’81, BEng’85, and Karen, MEng’84, studied metallurgical engineering at the University, as did his uncle Ian Cameron, BEng’79, MEng’82, while his aunt Heather Cameron, BEng’85, studied electrical engineering.
Ian Cameron leads the iron and steel practice for Hatch Ltd., the Canadian consulting and engineering firm founded by the late Gerald Hatch, BEng’44, DSc’90, a remarkable McGill benefactor who along with his wife, Sheila Baillie, BArch’46, established an architecture scholarship – one that freshman Dave Cameron went on to win years later.
“When I look back over my time at McGill, almost everything I’ve done seems to have been touched in some way by McGill’s alumni network,” Cameron says, “initially in terms of academics and professional development, and now, with entrepreneurial guidance and financial backing for our start-up, STORI. The links seem endless.
“In meeting alumni at Faculty events I’ve always been struck by how friendly and supportive they are. They are interested in students as individuals and take pride in offering help.”
The Perth, Ontario, native says students have to work hard to stay motivated, “and alumni often see potential in us that we don’t always see in ourselves. They have a real investment in our dreams, and knowing that helps to get you through those long nights studying. It’s an incredible morale booster.”
Cameron is himself playing the role of entrepreneurial mentor now to first- and second-year students with start-up ideas of their own.
“I’m trying to encourage them in the same way that McGill alumni encouraged me, by investing some of my time and energy in helping the next crop of students to realize their dreams.”
Down the road, this future architect, real estate developer and entrepreneur also sees himself hiring McGill students. “We have some of the brightest and best young people in the world here,” he says. “As a future employer, why wouldn’t I turn to my alma mater to recruit top-notch staff?”