Peter Hudson

Forty Under 40 winner 2014:  CEO, BitLit, Age: 34

Peter Hudson almost dropped out of university in 2003 to devote attention to the first of two successful startups that he co-founded.

Instead, he stuck around for another year, completed his University of British Columbia undergraduate degree in engineering physics and then focused on expanding Aquatic Informatics into a stable, mid-sized, 100-employee company that he still co-owns.

Life took a turn in 2012, however.

He and a friend were grumbling about their inability to convert a paper book into a digital counterpart in the same way that content owners can convert compact discs into digital files. That led to him co-founding his current venture, BitLit, which provides owners of paper books with ebook versions of the same works for a reduced price or for free.

The company has attracted more than $1 million in angel investor funding from sources in Vancouver, Toronto and New York. Hudson has already signed deals with more than 200 publishers and has a catalog of nearly 40,000 titles.

BitLit’s user base has also been growing by about 40% month-over-month since its inception in early 2014. The company now has 10 employees and operates out of an office in Gastown.

“Part of what has helped us be a success was going through GrowLab’s accelerator program,” Hudson said. “GrowLab said we’ll invest in you, mentor you and take you to Silicon Valley for three months.”

Hudson’s path to success started at 14, when he was granted an academic scholarship to attend Shawnigan Lake School.

His athletic accomplishments include running a handful of marathons and plenty of mountaineering, including trekking to a Mount Everest base camp.

“My first and last triathlon was the Ironman,” Hudson said of the annual event that includes a four-kilometre swim, 196-km bike ride and a marathon. “I thought if you were going to do a triathlon, you might as well do the biggest one first.”