MARK GRAHAM: commonsku & Right Sleeve
Job Title: Co-founder, CEO (RightSleeve) & Chief Platform Officer (commonsku)
Rookie Year: 1993
Turf: Rosedale, Toronto
Current Home: Toronto, ON
Education: Queen’s University, BAH, Economics/History
Why does Mark love Entrepreneurship? It’s critical to our economy and our country.
Mark is passionate about entrepreneurship – and while he doesn’t discredit the value of an education, he loves the open door policy that entrepreneurship offers, “with a lot of careers there are high barriers to entry, entrepreneurship is something that anyone can do if they work hard.” Mark believes that entrepreneurs get some critical skills producing wealth and creativity that should be supported more.
Mark was with Action Window Cleaning before it became CPWC.
“I was always the entrepreneurial kid, the lemonade stand / shovelling driveways type, and I liked the idea of making money for myself”, Mark said, “I had heard of some people with Action on campus and the thought of it excited me”. Mark was impressed by the opportunity being offered to him, and Action stood out among some of the competitors he interviewed with.
“I thought, what the hell, this could be great for me”.
He has both tangible and intangible memories that stand out from his window cleaning days
Tangible? Running around outdoors, cleaning windows, and doing business with some pretty successful people. Mark loved that despite his young age he could hold his own and land jobs in a wealthy neighborhood, “it was thrilling to be taken seriously…I grew up a lot”. Mark credits this experience for the confidence that he carries with him to this day.
Intangible? The fact that he had control over his summer, and his life, “I loved that I could kill my production numbers one week and maybe take the next week off – I had control over my own destiny. I worked hard, but I took time off guilt-free because I knew what I was doing”. In other words, it was the freedom and independence that made him love College Pro.
Despite a passion for entrepreneurship, Mark temporarily swerved off that path following graduation.
His window cleaning franchise made him feel like a rock star, and what do business rock stars do? They go into investment banking! Mark thought he could put on a suit be among the best of business and find success, but it didn’t really work out that way. Despite doing well, after a few months he knew it wasn’t right for him.
At that time, Mark had the opportunity to start a promotional business, which is now known as RightSleeve, and he remains on as CEO, “I was so excited to be starting a business, it could have been anything”. Mark used promotional marketing to create high quality company swag, helping companies establish brand connections though merchandised collections. Internally, RightSleeve was using internal business management software to help with client interactions, internal correspondence, and more, and they decided to bring it to market. It was tough, but Mark spends the majority of his time as Chief Platform Officer at commonsku now that it’s taken off.
“I was so excited to be starting a business, it could have been anything.”
More about Mark:
He is married with 3 kids ages 8, 10 and 12
Mark is big into sports such as long distance running, tennis and squash