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Kamloops Innovation Spotlight: Entrepreneur in Residence John Zubak

In the ever-evolving world of innovation, Kamloops Innovation’s (KI) Entrepreneurs in Residence are cornerstones of our commitment to fostering groundbreaking ideas. Today, we highlight Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) John Zubak, a visionary with an unparalleled passion for entrepreneurship. With a wealth of business experience, John exemplifies the driving force behind Kamloops Innovation’s relentless pursuit of excellence. 


John has over 30 years as an entrepreneur in a diverse range of business ventures, from landscape, construction and wholesale furnishings to real estate and a chain of retail stores.

  

“From my earliest childhood memories, I always believed I would have my own business. Even in the jobs I worked while young, I was always thinking about how I would make improvements if I owned that business,” said John.  


John crafted his entrepreneurial path by spearheading successful endeavours, including the establishment of the most extensive retail mattress chain in interior British Columbia during the 1990s. Always fascinated and convinced by the power of technology in businesses, he championed in-store automation and leveraged technology in his business.  


“I believe innovation is the key to success in the business world, not just being “different” for the sake of it, but rather being different because you have discovered a way to provide more value to your customer, or a more efficient way to create a solution to a problem,” shared John. Reflecting on his role as a business mentor, John said, “It is a pathway allowing me to channel my passion for innovation while working side by side with others in the hopes of creating products or services that are more meaningful.”  


For John, watching others succeed is very gratifying. This is at the heart of why he has continued to mentor people who wish to create solutions that can be developed into profitable businesses. Through KI, John has mentored several individuals over the past 10 years.  


“KI feels like a second family now, and I look at being an EIR as an opportunity to give back to those beginning their entrepreneurial journey, plus those already years into their businesses. I’ve been extremely fortunate over the years to have had amazing mentors who helped me grow. I’m at a point in my life where I have more than what I need, and I get huge satisfaction from helping people,” he said.  


John also supported KI as the interim executive director for the first 7 months of 2023. During this time, he spearheaded the transition of the Kamloops Innovation from its North Shore location to its new location at the Thompson River University (TRU) campus. This transition was more than just a change of location; it was also a change in the direction in which Kamloops Innovation’s board wanted to take it.  


“Our board of directors is full of visionaries. The board did not see an organization that was just staying stagnant for the future. We needed to be something that grew and became more and had many more partnerships, not just to be sustainable but to be meaningful,” said John. “And now having Michael, KI’s executive director, on board has been exceptional. He has certainly taken the organization forward with a lot of vigour and drive.” 

 

John hopes that more people will take advantage of KI’s enhanced vision and partnerships. His advice for entrepreneurs is twofold: embrace failure and be inquisitive. More importantly, he insists on looking at the big picture. 


“Financial reward is an outcome of running a solid business, but it does not necessarily define one’s happiness or personal success. My business success has provided me with the free time and financial means to be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my two daughters and the freedom to spend time with friends enjoying the other passions in my life,” said John.  

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