West Edmonton businessman wants to share his entrepreneurial skills

By Chelsey Smith

EDMONTON — John Su measures education in experience.  He includes speaking French, tango dance, and other impressive and arbitrary skills, into a long list of learning.  For Su, education is limitless and unbound to convention and institution.

“I went to the school of hardknocks,” he says.  While Su did take courses at the University of Alberta, he soon set his sights on something different. He tossed books and a degree aside to create his own path, where he says life taught him all he knows.

Premier Stelmach and John Su talkin at the March WeBA mixer in 2011. Photograph by Grant Cree Photography.

Su is a strong believer in entrepreneurship and began a business in real estate investments.  Now he wants to share his experience in business and education with Jasper Place High School students by hosting an Entrepreneur Day.

Su is working with Alberta Employment and Immigration and members of Jasper Place High School to have west Edmonton business owners share real stories and genuine accounts of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, and to give students the opportunity to ask questions.

Su’s path to success has called for ambition and personality.  Through networking, mentorship and talent, Su made it to where he is today: a proud business owner and the president of the West Edmonton Business Association.

Su started his career by doing odds and ends for his family’s business in manufacturing sweats and T-shirts.  When the operation went under and university wasn’t working for him, he decided to venture out on his own.

“I’m young, I have a little bit of money saved up. Why not take a chance on myself?” he recalls thinking.

Real estate “looked cool,” so he joined Edmonton’s Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) and began learning, investing and growing as an entrepreneur. Though he lacked experience, his persistence and networking skills got him exactly where he needed to be.

Within three years, Su became a gold member in the REIN group, buying more than 17 properties in three years. He eventually expanded to land development, construction investments and a variety of other areas.

In the beginning, Su was often frustrated by professionals advising him to work hard and only offering him general and obvious guidance.  He learned best from specific examples and more in-depth insight, and feels students can also gain from detailed information.

Being an entrepreneur can be the most difficult job in the world, Su says. Though the benefits can be plentiful, successful professionals tend glorify self-employment and leave out some important facts.

It takes a certain kind of person to be an entrepreneur, says Su.  To be successful you need to do more than just work hard and be ambitous.

“(It takes) the ability to have 100 per cent determination to do something, but to be just as flexible, so that if things change, you have the ability to change and be nimble at the same time,” Su says.

With the knowledge and experience that Su has gained, he is eager to give back to the west-Edmonton community.

Patrick Turc and John Su pose for a picture at the March WeBA mixer in 2011. Photograph by Grant Cree Photography.

Sergio Gaggero from Alberta Employment and Immigration thinks Su’s Entrepreneur Day collaboration between students and local business owners could add to the curriculum.

“I think the more exposure kids have to career options the better,” Gaggero said.