Meet Shishir ‘S’ Pande, 29, co-founder and chief strategy officer with EXAR Studios and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2020 recipients
‘S’ HAS A complicated relationship with London. Born and raised here, he grew up with a hatred for the city, primarily because of the racism he faced. Finding his footing in university, he opted to return to the city to help those facing similar struggles. With EXAR Studios and the Engage app, he’s leading a local tech success story looking to create a global presence. Think of it as the Pokémon Go of knowledge and community.
Tell us about your biggest achievements so far?
EXAR Studios’ flagship product, the Engage app — a virtual tourism platform that uses augmented reality to let people explore our city — is my biggest business achievement so far. I get to make people happy and tell the stories of London, Ontario. Our city is a fun place, but not a lot of people know much about it. Engage shows you the stories of the city in augmented reality. Point your camera at special spots in the city and you can see and learn about the past, present and future of each spot. Engage is an app built for our community at a time when our community needs it most.
What lessons will you take away from this pandemic, and working through it?
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this pandemic is that there are always people who need help. That also means there is always a way to do business that benefits those people. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fair, but we will make it through this. I hope that the work I’m doing will help other businesses survive the pandemic as well.
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What advice would you give a younger you?
Don’t pay attention to the naysayers. Being told that I wasn’t good enough to do this or that or being told I was a fool for leaving engineering for my entrepreneurship journey didn’t stop me, but it certainly hurt my self-confidence. I’ve managed to get this far, so I suppose the criticism wasn’t that effective, but it still got to me on the inside. My younger self would certainly have loved to know that things get easier.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love making art. I find it relaxing especially since I don’t hold myself to as high a standard as I do in my work life. I also enjoy mentoring other entrepreneurs. It helps me keep my mind sharp and see problems from different perspectives. I’m an avid reader as well, and usually read a couple books a week.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Cleaning and organization. I love making a place look like a furniture catalogue — sometimes to the point that it gets frustrating for the people who work and live with me. Interview by Kieran Delamont