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Marc Bishara, B.Eng.Mgt. '14

(Mechatronics Engineering) | The Story of the Startup

As Chief Technology Officer of a small startup focused on smart home automation, Marc Bishara’s job responsibilities over the last five years have ranged from technical work in product development to assorted managerial tasks, as the firm has grown to 15 employees.

But it’s a role that the 2014 Mechatronics Engineering and Management graduate says he’s well qualified for, thanks in part to his time at McMaster.

“Engineering in general got me used to the hard work and persistence needed to work in the startup space,” he notes. “Mechatronics gave me a varied enough set of technical skills to be able to navigate the variety of fields touched upon by a hardware startup.

“And the management stream had the entrepreneurship option so I got to learn more about the startup space in my last year.”

Bishara says his 16-month co-op term spent working with Cambridge-based ATS Automation was valuable in gaining skills needed to work for a startup.

“I came back to Mac for my final year and was fairly motivated to figure out how to join a startup upon graduation.”

In early 2015 he started as the first engineer at AXIS Labs Inc., a Toronto company developing and building a smart home product to motorize existing window shades. Since then, along with colleagues, he helped a crowd funding campaign raising $100K. Pilot production of 150 units was followed by an initial production run in March 2016 of 1,500 units.

“The last four years have been a great learning and growth experience, both personally and professionally,” says Bishara.

He urges today’s students to take advantage of co-op terms if they get the chance. He also suggests aiming for “a ridiculous capstone project, ‘cause why not?”