Thank Your Mentor Day FT. Nathan Marcus Brown

eHub uOttawa
3 min readJan 30, 2023
Nathan Marcus Brown, Investor & advisor vitiprints LLC, Principal OKIPA Ltd

Growing up in Beaverton, Oregon, the headquarters of Nike and Adidas were both a short distance from where Nathan Marcus Brown lived. After playing basketball in high school and college, he decided to pursue a career in athletics. Following a brief stint with Nike, he worked with Adidas for about 5 years in the US and Germany, ultimately running the global tennis apparel business.

From there, he completed an MBA at London Business School, with a focus on entrepreneurship. The first company he started was a luxury footwear company called Lodger Footwear, which was nominated for Best Emerging British Luxury Brand for two years running. Since selling Lodger he has owned and operated a tin mine in Mongolia, set up an office of innovation for the CEO at Starbucks, and joined several early-stage ventures as an investor, executive, and mentor.

He is now married with two children attending Ashbury College and moved to Ottawa, where my wife grew up, during the pandemic to be closer to family and for the kids’ school.

What is your favorite aspect of mentoring young entrepreneurs?

NMB: Part of it is giving back. I’ve had so much help throughout my own career that if I can share a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, maybe I can help support the next generation of young entrepreneurs. But if I’m honest, it’s probably mostly selfish. The energy from working with enthusiastic people is infectious. And I always learn something that I can apply in whatever project I happen to be working on.

If a student wanted to start a business, what is one piece of advice you would share with them?

NMB: Just start it. You’ll learn more from jumping in than you ever could watching from the sidelines. But make sure you’re not over-extending yourself. And know that the vast majority of start-ups fail, so make sure that whatever you invest in terms of time and money will generate a fair return in experience if the balance sheet goes to zero.

You’ll learn quickly how hard it is to be an entrepreneur at a time in life when you’ve got low overhead and plenty of capacity to bounce back. You’ll also find out if it’s something you really want to pursue. If it’s not something for this stage in your life, maybe it’s something you come back to when you’ve gathered more experience that you can put to work on another idea.

How do you suggest going about finding a mentor?

NMB: I have been very impressed by the support offered by uOttawa and Invest Ottawa. There is a hugely active community, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn from smart people. If you’re looking for more structured support, programs like the Start-Up Garage augment mentorship with education in areas important to early-stage businesses.

*This feature was published as a part of the Thank Your Mentor Day Campaign, 2023–30–01.

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