By Sylvia Lorico
Most startups begin as an idea, a flicker of genius in the office or a sudden moment of realization as you cross the street.
But for Ryerson’s Jesse Brito and his team, the story of 7C Laboratories begins in the Neil Wycik residence on Church Street.
It was Brito’s first year at Ryerson’s aerospace engineering program. Hailing from the distant town of Burlington, Ontario, Brito found himself going to Ryerson with friends from his hometown.
As Brito and his friends made themselves comfortable in the 7C unit of Neil Wycik, they came up with an idea.
“We really wanted to come up with an app for the Pan Am games for tourists which reminded them what stops to get off at for specific events,” he said.
For tourists who were unfamiliar with the TTC or GO Transit, Toronto’s transit system was a complex labyrinth of buses, trains, and streetcars. Depending on what event you wanted to attend, it meant having to take either a train to Scarborough, or two trains and a bus to the Exhibition Place.
But there was no convenient system in place to help with navigation. How could a tourist from America know she must get off at Lakeshore Boulevard when she could barely tell which train to take?
Unfortunately, the idea never completely pulled through.
“We did have the opportunity to explore how a business worked and how we could make technology profitable and how we could make it work outside a student environment, but it never really went that far and it dropped off after that,” Brito said.
A few years later, Brito began working as an engineer and design for a medical equipment manufacturing company. While trying to create a video for the company, Brito noticed some clear flaws in the marketing and advertising industry.
“The big inefficiencies in marketing and advertising industries is the fluff in-between; you get charged quite a bit for just negotiations and talks,” Brito said.
“I realized that I had friends who went to Ryerson that could likely do this job equally as well at a much lower rate because we would be operating as individuals.”
Gathering his group of friends once more, Brito and his team began shooting commercials for companies using a team of young professionals and students. Eventually, Brito decided to pursue the marketing and advertising career full-time.
His team uses an integrated approach to the startup, including elements like web design. Today, his company comprises of talent from several different sections including marketing, branding, photography, filmography, and business consultation.
Accessible to young entrepreneurs
Brito stressed that one of the goals of his company was to be accessible to young entrepreneurs who were just starting out. He understood from the experiences of other young people looking to begin a startup that the business itself was far from cheap.
“I knew that if we could just grab people who were proficient in [sections of marketing and advertising] and bring them together, we could provide a level of expertise across the board that would be beneficial for not just students but just any business in general,” he said.
“Our team wanted to give entrepreneurs the benefit of the doubt at a rate they could actually afford.”
Brito and his team take a unique approach in their marketing and advertising strategies. Instead of paying for negotiations, entrepreneurs will pay for Brito and his team to both design something aesthetically pleasing and have data to back up its effectiveness.
“[7C Laboratories] would be effectively as efficient as any agency because we would both create something that resonated with people as well as prove that it resonated with people,” he said.
Current and past projects
Currently, 7C Laboratories is working with Modular Farms Co., a vertical farming company that uses container farms to grow and manufacture food in places around the world.
His team is using an integrated design strategy, one that handles most components of branding and advertising.
By analyzing the brand in detail, his team quickly concluded that while Modular Farms Co. had a strong graphic presence, it needed some work advertising itself to corporate buyers and grocery stores, the company’s ideal target audience.
“We said to ourselves, ‘Hey, there’s a little disconnect here. We’re still harking a lot on individual consumers or people who just want to farm casually. We need to bolster this up a bit,’” he said.
Brito and his team acted, pitching to media outlets, modifying the website and sending out press releases.
The team hopes to host a launch event later in 2017, where they will launch Modular Farms Co.’s primary container across Canada.
Aside from Modular Farms, 7C has also worked with other companies such as The Food Dudes, a food service and catering company in Toronto.
The Eyeopener also previously reported that Brito was part of the Ryerson Hyperloop team in 2016. He said that during his time with the hyperloop team, 7C Laboratories worked with hyperloop to help with branding and marketing. He also joined the team as a member.
“Do the thing you are passionate about”
Neither Brito nor his founding partner, Thomas Wright had a formal education in marketing or advertising. It was only this year that Brito switched into the business management program from aerospace engineering.
This is where he found some difficulties. Because Brito and Wright did not come from a marketing or advertising background, they found that while they had plenty of ideas, it was difficult to find resources or expertise to execute those ideas.
One of the things that allowed his team to overcome this difficulty when they were just starting was a change in mentality.
“We stopped worrying about our business and we started worrying about the things we wanted to do,” he said.
“Instead of focusing on ‘oh well we want to be here by this year’ or anything like that we started to acknowledge: ‘hey we want to make photos and videos for small to medium businesses: let’s just go ahead and do it.’”
His biggest advice for potential entrepreneurs?
“Don’t listen so much to business narratives of failed startups and failed ventures,” Brito said, “do the thing that you’re passionate about and good with and find your audience from there.”