Success stories of college dropouts, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, have enticed students to embrace their passions and creativity in lieu of completing their degrees, and one former University of Saskatchewan student hopes to achieve success with a startup company located in Saskatoon.
Christopher Cooper was majoring in commerce unit the end of the 2017 winter term. When his friends started working on Curbie and approached him in the spring to work for this unique online service in the used-car retail industry, Cooper discontinued his second undergraduate degree to pursue the ambitious business venture instead.
Cooper is the creative director at Curbie, which has only been in existence for three months. He is passionate about making the used-automotive retail experience easier for customers and sellers than ever before.
“Curbie sells vehicles online like Amazon sells books, and … what [the creators] wanted to do was they wanted to turn the used-vehicle market on its head and get rid of a lot of the pain points that buying used vehicles right now has,” Cooper said.
Cooper feels that discontinuing his studies was the right decision for him, as earning a degree is not a guarantee for students to work in their desired field of study. While some students may want to continue on with academia, Cooper took the opportunity to fulfill his professional goals instead.
He explains that, because both of his parents are educators, he has a high regard for education, and it was difficult to discontinue his university career. He convoked with a degree in kinesiology from the U of S in 2011 and then returned to pursue computer science before switching to a major in commerce.
“The decision to defer my education and start working with this startup company was difficult, but I feel like it was more in line with my goals that I set for myself… In the end, I hope to work in the tech industry and hope to work in some sort of creative capacity and just hope to make changes and improve people’s lives through tech,” Cooper said.
Cooper believes that practical experience is not necessarily less valuable than formal education, and he explains that he is constantly learning about business while working at the new online company.
“I don’t feel like my education [has] necessarily stopped, because a lot of what I have learned in the last several months working for Curbie — and a lot of what I will learn in the future, too — kind of hits on all facets of the small business, right? Everything from marketing, to branding, to daily operations, logistics, product procurement, so I am getting a pretty heavy education right now as it is,” Cooper said.
Cooper encourages any student to follow their passion even if they are hesitant, because regardless of their hesitation, some opportunities are too great to pass up.
“If you have a good idea or … you want to accomplish something, just do it. Don’t be afraid to jump in, and you know, get your feet wet,” Cooper said. “Some of the coolest things out there were just ideas at one point in time, right, and people had to take that risk.”
Photo: David Hartman