Panel Talks Pursuing Passion at FreshBooks #imakealiving

FreshBooks hosted a diverse six-person panel from its Toronto headquarters today as part of the #imakealiving series. The 300-person audience heard the panel’s stories of the different ways they–as the title suggests–make a living.

Tech startup CEOs Ben Zifkin of Hubba and Account HQ’s Chris Hamoen joined Richard Thomas of Kinetic Café, content producer Pay Chen, new media artist Jeremy Bailey, and Nuvango co-founder Dawn Laing to discuss their non-traditional career paths.

Mediated by Saul Colt, many of the panelists spoke about leaving steady salary jobs to make the jump to a new career, launch a business or pursue a passion. A key message was how the growing gig economy reflects a dramatic difference in how people support themselves today compared to a decade ago.

Hamoen did all of those things. He left Hubba as their Director of Growth to launch his own CRM software company, Account HQ. It’s what he calls his big swing.

Within five years, he jumped from being the CEO of SalesWays to Hubba where he started out inputting data into Salesforce. It was at Hubba where he learned to embrace failure and develop the confidence to go out on his own to build Account HQ.

“I think users need software that’s built for them, to help them proactively in what they do everyday,” said Hamoen. Account HQ’s CRM software is currently in alpha testing.

For Zifkin, he said his passion was finding an underserved market and building a business. He sold a consulting company to launch Hubba where he discovered the world of craft brands, something that became a new passion. From frozen yogurt for dogs to bourbon flavoured toothpicks, Hubba has helped small niche businesses grow and gain success.

The audience also heard from Chen and Laing about their decisions to leave seemingly secure careers. Chen left her job at Rogers Television to freelance in 2012. In her first year she said she made less than she did in 1998 working as a production assistant.

Laing gave up her public servant job working as a conservation biologist to become an entrepreneur.

“I wanted to affect change. That is what’s propelling me,” said Laing, now a communications and marketing executive.

FreshBooks is a cloud-based small business accounting software that was built for the self-employed and their teams. Toronto’s event was the third in FreshBooks’ ongoing #imakealiving series that has previously hosted panel discussions in New York City and Los Angeles.