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Canadian Entrepreneur Stories: An Interview with David Zhang of Atomic District

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411 is all about inspiring business growth and development. We love hearing stories from entrepreneurs, whether they are success stories or otherwise, so please contact us if you’re interested!

We decided to interview our customers to learn more about what it’s like to run their business and what advice they have for other #CanadianEntrepreneurs. We recently talked to David, Founder/Experience Designer of Atomic District.

Atomic District is focused on getting users to experience cutting-edge entertainment technology. They immerse people in virtual reality experiences, allowing customers to visit universes only possible in imaginations, without ever leaving the safety of David’s office. We asked him a series of questions and here’s what he had to say.

When was the moment you decided to start a business?

David: I decided to start my business sometime during my last year of university.  I’ve discovered starting a business as a career path through a number of internships and student organizations.  I felt if I saw a problem in society, infrastructure, business, or anywhere else and want to solve it, entrepreneurship is the most direct way. The more I dove into this community, the more I realized the help and resources available, and how many great people are on the same path.  Back then, I was obsessed with crowdfunding and it’s potential to disrupt sectors of our society such as innovation and banking. I wanted to get into that field. One of the biggest problems I saw was the gadgets proposed or invented had no real place for people to try and experience locally.  So I wanted to start an experience center for innovative technologies. One thing led to another, and I’ve now created an experience center for virtual reality, simply because it demanded it the most.  Although it’s focused on entertainment, I definitely have bigger plans for it such as retail and other types of products.

When did you first feel “this is successful?

David: Atomic District is still a work in progress today. Every time I see a face completely in awe after their virtual reality experience, I feel a bit more confident that this is what the market demands and will work out in the end. I just have to keep at it and continuously improve the service and business model.

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Can you describe “a day in the life” snapshot of your business?

David: They say one of the perks of being an entrepreneur is having a flexible schedule, you can pick any 24 hours of the day to work. I’m always working and thinking about the business, but since it’s something I enjoy, and the vision of what I’m working toward is what I 100% believe in, it doesn’t feel that much like work…most of the time. Currently our operation is Friday – Sunday, so I’ll be onsite running the virtual reality stations those days.  During the week days, I’m working on marketing, meeting partners, and more, and sometimes just relaxing (the best ideas come during this time).

What’s your vision for the future and where do you see your business in 5 years?

David: I’m not really in business to make money, I think it’s the other way around, I need to make money so I can continue the business and grow it, allowing more people to receive our services. My ultimate goal for Atomic District is for it to become the new standard in technology retail and entertainment. Bringing the best products and experiences to everyone. For the first 5 years, I will work on perfecting one or a few flagship location(s), after that, duplicating the business model and scaling via franchising is likely the best way to expand.

What do you struggle to get done on a day-to-day basis, and how do you overcome it?

David: I feel the more I don’t like doing something, the more I have to do it.  For instance with me, I actually hate marketing, but often spend the biggest chunk of the day on it.  At least it’s marketing for something that I believe in and enjoy, or else, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand it.

Tell us about your team.

David: Right now, I am solo on this venture. I do have many great business partners such as event co-organizers, industry friends, and the Raiders bar owner, who I’m currently working with to share the venue. All of whom are great at what they do and I’m super proud to be working with.  I am currently in talks with a few other people to form a team that’s mutually beneficial, but that’s still in progress.

What inspires you to continue growing your business?

David: The same reason why I decided to start it in the first place. The fact that there are so many amazing and useful technologies out there that people just don’t know about or can’t access really bothers me a lot. It feels like we are wasting them and their inventors’ brilliance, while slowing down our overall technological advancement. I don’t think the goal is anywhere close to being met, so there’s lots of work to do.

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Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs starting out?

David: I’d say you must find a problem you see that bothers you personally and deeply, then look to yourself and ask: what skills and resources do I have RIGHT NOW to solve this problem, even if it’s on the tiniest insignificant level. Once you are in action, let resources and people gravitate toward you and accept them with open arms. Lastly, and this is counter intuitive, do your best to leave emotions out of it. You should feel passion toward the final goal, but not the day to day success or struggles.

We had a chance to try out the virtual reality system at the #StyleMyBiz Nationals Event in Toronto, and we can confidently say, it was an amazing experience everyone should try. We would like to thank David for answering our questions and taking part in out #CanadianEntrepreneurs series. You can check out the Atomic District website to book time to experience it. You can find Atomic District on Twitter and Facebook.

We want to hear your #CanadianEntrepreneurs story! Post it on our “Canadian Entrepreneur Stories” Facebook Page @411entrepreneurs 

Anastasia graduated with a BA Honors Communications Degree and is currently pursuing her passion for writing and helping small businesses succeed.