Whenever some young person in Canada gets elected to public office, Terry Beech still gets calls from reporters. As far as he knows, he still holds the record for being the youngest Canadian elected to public office. He had just turned 18 and was fresh out of high school when, in 1999, he was elected to city council in Nanaimo.
After serving one term, he went to Simon Fraser University (SFU), where he earned a degree in economics and business and won several scholarships. He still has political ambitions but for now is busy with a number of startups he co-founded, including Hiretheworld.com.
As a student, Beech did an internship at Export Development Canada, where Stephen Poloz – now the governor of the Bank of Canada – was the chief economist.
"I'm so lucky – I always find myself surrounded by really smart people," Beech said.
After graduating from SFU, he went to work for the Aquilini Investment Group as director of business development.
"Francesco [Aquilini] really took me under his wing," Beech said. "It was like getting 10 MBAs."
In 2008, he left the Aquilini Group to get his MBA from Oxford University, where he specialized in entrepreneurship and venture capital. Back in Canada, he met with an old friend, Paul Lee, managing partner for Vanedge Capital, from whom he learned about crowdsourcing.
In 2009, Beech co-founded Hiretheworld – a web-based logo design platform that uses crowdsourcing. Rather than hire a graphic designer, companies can use Hiretheworld for a flat fee (starting at $265). The company fills out a brief on what it is looking for in a logo, and Hiretheworld sends it to graphic designers in 148 countries, who then compete by submitting logo design ideas.
The clients rate the designs, saying what they like or don't like, and the competing designers work off that. The designer with the logo the client likes most gets the fee.
In 2010, Hiretheworld won first prize in the New Ventures BC competition.
"It took us a while to get profitable, but we've been profitable since 2012," Beech said.
In addition to Hiretheworld.com, Beech and his twin brother, Doug, co-founded the non-profit website Twinbro.com, which helps students access scholarships and bursaries. Beech is also an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at SFU and the University of British Columbia.