Name: Erica Pearson
Current Occupation: CEO/ Co-Founder
Business: Vacation Fund
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
Education: Queens’s University- Commerce
Can you briefly describe your business and the goal you are striving towards?
Vacation Fund encourages people to save for their travel goals.
The inspiration for this was my dad – he was frugal but willing to spend money on travel. Growing up, he took our family on three trips a year. We never stayed at the fanciest places but we were happy to be traveling. It kind of became part of our identity and people would always ask “so where are you going next?”
It was amazing and by the time I turned 22, I had been to over 40 countries.
I saw a lot of millennials joining bucket list platforms and wanting to find time to go away. I started to think, there’s no point in having a bucket list that you can’t afford to do – what if there was a way to encourage people just to save for their travel goals?
What kind of productivity tools do you use?
Slack & Trello
They help us communicate as a team and keep track of what things are in progress.
Lists & Notebooks
For me, nothing works better than working things down and checking things off in my notebook.
Run us through your morning routine.
I make sure to set myself up for the day.
I wake up before 7am, I put earphones in and do guided meditations. Sometimes they’re 5 minutes sometimes they’re 35 minutes. I try to switch it up so I’m not doing the same ones every day.
I also do oil pulling with coconut oil – you take a spoonful of coconut oil, put it in your mouth and swish it around for 10 or 20 minutes. It pulls toxins out and it’s supposed to be really good for your teeth and bones.
What books do you recommend to the recent university/college graduate looking to step into the world of entrepreneurship?
If it’s a tech company, this is a classic.
Dear Female Founder
It’s all short stories by women who have collectively generated over $1 billion in revenue. My co-founder actually bought it for my birthday.
How do you get into focus mode?
It mostly starts with putting a list together of what I actually need to do today.
And for some reason, putting headphones in – even if the music isn’t playing. As soon as I put headphones in I can hammer out a few hours of hours without thinking about it.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face in life?
Making the transition from a 6 figure salary to zero income.
Just to wrap my head around it – when you have a very stable income, you can see that trajectory – you can watch your wealth grow. Having fully quit my job on the RBC trading floor, it’s just a steady decline of my savings now. Vacation Fund hasn’t raised money yet so this has all been funded by me in the last year.
I had to frame it in my head as this is my investment into myself as opposed to doing a master’s degree. This is the kind of money that, over 12 months, I could put into a master’s. Instead, I’m putting myself through this insane learn curve of starting my own company. Wrapping my head around why I was doing that was so important and such a big reminder.
And also knowing that I’m 25 right now and if I did want to go back to that stable salary, it will always be there. There are just certain messages I’ve had to put in. I actually made a whole page of entrepreneurship quotes that I put in my wallet as a reminder of why I’m doing this and why it makes sense.
I don’t think I would forgive myself if I didn’t try entrepreneurship. Even the people I’ve met in the last year has been crazy. About three months in I had a good chat with Mike Katchen, the co-founder of WealthSimple. He’s super down to earth and he just kept saying “how can I help?” That’s amazing to have someone who is super busy but still willing to help people get through these initial stages of startup life.
How do you like to network?
Introductions from other people.
I like to have some context around why we should be chatting.
Letting people approach me at events.
It’s interesting because I like to talk and I’m very excited and proud of what I’m doing, but I don’t like to just start talking about what we’re doing. I went to this event called Tech the Halls and people just starting asking me about Vacation Fund. Being there and letting other people approach you puts the conversation in a different light because it shows that I am not seeking something from them. I’d rather them just be genuinely interested in me and my business. It goes back to creating those mutually beneficial relationships too.
Where does your motivation stem from?
I played everything as a kid – field hockey, soccer, karate. I played field hockey for Ontario and Queen’s University. I think competitive sports is the only thing that prepared me for entrepreneurship.
I need to see what I’m working towards so part of the reason I left the trading floor was because I didn’t see anyone’s job that I wanted to work towards.
It was actually while I was reading Notable, I was seeing other peoples lives that I would have preferred. People doing meaningful work that they were really excited about. I saw that and I thought, I need to be doing that!
Hard work will lead to success. True or false?
Hard work is a factor, but it also isn’t enough.
I think there are lots of people that work hard and don’t achieve “success”. A lot of other things need to go right. You need to have a vision for what you want to accomplish. You need to create mutually beneficial outcomes.
Did business school prepare you for entrepreneurship?
School is a good time to meet other ambitious people & maybe learn some of the fundamentals. School gave me the opportunity to work towards something that gave me a paycheck, which was great.
I learned more about entrepreneurship through competitive sports
Through being coached and working with a team towards a common goal.
Anything else you would like to add?
My philosophy: Make sure you are doing things you care about with people you like.
Someone told me this recently and I think it’s so fundamental. Because everyone wants to achieve a level of happiness or satisfaction in their lives, whether it’s in their job, startup, etc.- and it’s a great philosophy to live by. It just makes sense.
Special thank you to Erica Pearson for taking the time to interview with Influence Digest.