Entrepreneur Profile: Ben Gigone, founder of Bridge Textbooks

Staples is proud to support Canadian entrepreneurs with tools and resources to help them build their businesses and turn their dreams into reality. That’s why, together with Ownr (by RBC Ventures), Shopify and Moneris, we joined the Canada Starts initiative to support Canadian entrepreneurs by awarding grants to help them get their big idea off the ground. We caught up with Ben Gigone from Bridge Textbooks to find out how his business venture is going since being awarded a Canada Starts grant.

Tell us a bit about your company

Bridge Textbooks is an online marketplace created for students to easily (and safely) buy and sell used textbooks on campus. We’re a small team made up of students and recent grads who love solving problems. Our goal is to help students spend less on expensive textbooks and put some extra cash in their pockets.

How did you get started?

After graduating, I wanted to focus on solving problems that were important to me and that could have a widespread impact. As a lover of higher-education, I found myself drawn to issues related to school, and decided to tackle something that I found frustrating as a student. I quickly assembled a small team of like-minded students, and Bridge Textbooks was born.

How did COVID-19 shape your business idea?

COVID-19 forced us to really analyze the way things were being done in our industry and make decisions on how we could provide real value to students in the current climate. We’ve been focusing on creating solutions that will not only prove useful during the pandemic, but also provide great experiences for our users when COVID-19 is long behind us.

Why did you decide to start a business during the pandemic?

The idea for Bridge Textbooks had been germinating prior to COVID-19, and while it might not seem like the best time to start a business, I found myself with much more time on my hands and wanted to be doing something productive. I knew that when things returned to normal, taking the time to build a team and develop an application would be a lot more difficult. If I learned anything during the pandemic, it was that the timing would never be perfect – so my team and I took the leap!

What’s your greatest struggle as a business owner right now?

Personally, I think it’s creating a great company culture. Environment is such an important aspect of any company (especially start-ups) and keeping things exciting without face-to-face interaction is definitely a difficult task. It can be hard to stay motivated when you’re working from home every day, so surrounding yourself with people who believe in the same vision and are excited about the company’s direction is critical.

Where do you think entrepreneurs should invest their time and money?

In my experience, the most important investment any entrepreneur can make – from both a time and money perspective – is in their people. A good company is really a collection of smart people creating interesting solutions to solve a big problem. I believe that a team of people who can collaborate effectively and buy into a collective vision will be able to overcome any challenge thrown their way.

What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in 2021? 

My biggest recommendation would be to find a great partner and know that it’s okay to start small. Having a teammate to bounce ideas off, provide accountability, and keep you motivated will make the process exponentially easier (and more enjoyable!). Overnight success isn’t realistic – allow yourself some time to test out your market, plan your business, and make your dream a reality.

Lastly, what services do you use Staples for?

As a new entrepreneur, I get a lot of our business supplies from Staples and have used their in-store printing services as well. I hope to be able to use Staples for several of our business needs as we continue to scale.

To learn more about Bridge Textbooks, download the app or visit bridgetextbooks.com

Check out Small Business & Entrepreneurship on our Working and Learning Blog to learn more about how Staples Canada is supporting Canadian entrepreneurs.

By Staples Canada

September 10, 2021