Rick Kotar is a senior electronic engineer in Ontario, Canada.
Kotar grew his interest in science began when he was just 10 years old and it continued into his teenage years, which was what prompted him to apply to various University Electrical Engineering Programs. He was accepted to his school of choice and earned his Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering four years later.
Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Rick Kotar moved to Seattle to pursue an internship opportunity with a local pharmaceutical company. Over the last few years, he has risen through the ranks to become a senior electronic engineer, making him one of the most successful electrical engineers of his generation.
In his spare time, Rick Kotar loves playing tennis, walking his dog (an Australian Shepherd named Bailey), and camping in Ontario’s beautiful parks.
How did you get started in this business?
Networking played a huge role at the beginning of my career. I attended several electrical engineering conferences and job fairs as a university student, which allowed me to make some extremely valuable connections. It was through one of these connections that I was offered my first professional opportunity to be an engineering intern at a small pharmaceutical company based in Seattle. Of course, I jumped at the chance to move to a new city and begin my career and it couldn’t have worked out better. I met some amazing people and gained practical experience in my field that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I firmly believe that my internship was ultimately what set me apart from the other candidates being interviewed at the time. Many other candidates were applying straight out of university, but I had eight months of practical work experience under my belt.
How do you make money?
For me, it’s all about the hustle. You must be willing to work more than you ever thought possible. You also must be willing to learn. Revenue can be generated in so many ways. The possibilities truly are endless, especially as new technologies are invented and existing technologies continue to evolve.
How long did it take for you to become profitable? When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
It took about two and a half years to become profitable. Despite knowing that this is within the average amount of time it takes for new companies to make a profit; it was still extremely stressful in the early stages. I would describe myself as a Type-A personality. I like to have a plan for everything. So, when it came to my business, I made sure I had a detailed revenue plan from the start. I frequently adjusted this plan based on the trajectory the business was taking. I also handled the stress by prioritizing work-life balance. This isn’t always easy, especially for entrepreneurs, but if you don’t do this from the start, it’s easy to get burnt out quickly.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer ever came about through a networking connection I had made as an intern in Seattle. It just goes to show how important networking is.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Having to let someone go is never easy. Especially for smaller businesses, your employees become like your family. But with any new business, things are constantly changing. There was an employee I had to unfortunately let go a few months ago. They were an excellent worker, there was just simply no longer a need for their role within the business.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think my constant drive and willingness to learn is what has made me successful. As an entrepreneur, you must be prepared to work long hours and wear many hats. Even if you come from a very strong engineering background like me, as the owner of a business, you must make time to learn about all aspects of that business, from the finances to human resources.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Hiring my first employee was extremely satisfying. Going from working alone to having a team that I am responsible for has been an incredibly rewarding journey.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Right now, we are during launching a new website. Our original website was exactly what we needed when it was first created. But over time, the services we offer, and our target demographic have changed, not to mention all the new technological advances that have been made. I want to make sure we have a fresh and modern digital presence, as this is of the utmost importance when it comes to a brand’s reputation in the 21st century.
What business books have inspired you?
The two books that have had the biggest impact on how I do business are: The iconic How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and the more recent The Execution Factor: The One Skill That Drives Success by Kim Perell.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to be more confident. More confident in myself and in my ability to achieve the goals I set out for myself. I think we severely undervalue ourselves when we’re young. We’re so worried about what lies ahead and sometimes that fear can stop us from even trying in the first place.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Absolutely! I had multiple mentors growing up, ranging from university professors to senior engineers when I was just an intern. My mentors had a huge impact on me and my career. I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. I would be honoured to fill that role for someone who is just starting out.