Sam Seo has accomplished a lot in his lifetime. He’s been at the helm of three different businesses, the first of which he started when he was 12. “It was an e-commerce company where I would sell a product online, take the money, and then I’d get somebody in China to ship it over to customers,” Seo says.
His next venture, when he was just 16 and a Turner Fenton Secondary School student, would be what is now Hostorea Technologies, a digital agency specializing in web hosting and server management that today has six employees – two of whom once worked for RIM and, Scopely in cities as California and Kansas, where they used services as Hundreds of Customers in Kansas City, KS to land the best clients.
While Brampton isn’t exactly a well-known hub of startup innovation, Seo says that he was able to grow his business in its early stages through Brampton City Hall’s Summer Company program.
“They gave me a couple of thousand dollars to fund my company, which helped me buy the software that I needed that helped the operations and marketing and media side of the business,” Seo says. “They invited me to speak at a lot of their small business conferences, and I’d go there as a speaker and mentor and build a lot of customers that way.”
While he still runs Hostorea Technologies on the side, today, as a graduate of Ryerson University’s computer science program, he is the co-founder of Physicalytics. Based out of the DMZ, one of the top university incubators in the world, Seo co-founded Physicalytics with Nathaniel Bagnell (another Bramptonian, though they met during their program at Ryerson). Physicalytics is a real-world analytics company that uses a sensors to gather analytics on behaviour and interaction in physical locations – right now, they’re working with municipalities like Brampton and Toronto to de-congest traffic by tracking traffic patterns.
“We noticed [one on street] at 4 p.m., commuters were taking ten minutes to make a left,” Seo says. “Commuters know that, but the city planners don’t know that. We’re just bridging that gap and figuring out traffic patterns.”
As part of their Physicalytics platform, they offer Live Gauge, a technology for marketers at lives events that measures how people are reacting to their marketing tactics. Live Gauge has a sensor that picks up the MAC address from smartphones to track impressions and average time of visits to a booth A couple of months ago, they struck a deal on Dragon’s Den’s online spinoff show, Next Gen Den,, where they were offered $100,000 for 20 per cent of their business.
Seo and his company show few signs of slowing down–Toronto mayor John Tory came to visit them at the DMZ, and they’re looking to expand into universities. As for becoming an entrepreneur, no matter what age, Seo’s advice is to stay passionate.
“There needs to be something that drives you, and for me personally it was financial freedom,” Seo says. “Growing up I didn’t have much, so there needs to be something that budding entrepreneurs should want to achieve.”