This Foodie and Techie Talks About Her Garden Bot Invention
Valerie Song is the CEO and co-founder of Ava, an indoor smart garden that helps you grow things year round with automated light and watering systems and simplified plant pod technology to avoid messing around with soil and fertilizers.
Ever since Valerie was a child, she’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She graduated from UBC Sauder School of Business where she studied business technology management and marketing. From there she went on to work for successful big name companies. “I think I was really ingrained in the business culture of you have to get into the best companies and the biggest companies in order to succeed in life. I wanted to do something more for the world.”
The idea for AVA came from an evening spent teaching her niece to cook pasta. She was shocked that her niece didn’t know where tomatoes and herbs came from. “It was kind of one of those moments where it was really cute and funny but it was also a realization moment where I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. The next generation, this is what they’re going to know.” That fruits and vegetables come from the store, they travel 2,000 kilometers from a farm to get to the store, wrapped up in plastic and that’s all you see. So what are we going to do about educating the next generation who’s going to be living in an apartment or living in the city? So that’s where it really came from is how can we inspire children and the next generation to really care and learn more about gardening.”
She quit her big corporate job with no plans, no job lined up, just a hope and a dream. A month later, she connected with her co-founder at a start-up weekend and together they pitched AVA and things took off from there.
Valerie loves being an entrepreneur and she is thrilled that she’s created a career that blends her love of business and STEM. Her passion for providing people access to healthy, transparent, real, pesticide-free food is infectious. Her goal is to help a million families get growing real food at home.
Jana Webb is an entrepreneur who started JOGA, a.k.a. yoga for jocks. While her business has thrived and she has helped it grow brick by brick, Jana has had a tumultuous personal journey that includes two car crashes that almost took her life.
Robyn Coquelle started volunteering at Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA). Little did she know that she would end up quitting her job to study to become a veterinary technician—through volunteering, she had found the one thing she truly wants to do.
Roya picked up a part-time job as a receptionist at an auto body shop to help support herself while she was in school, but it wasn’t long until she realized that she was already where she wanted to be.