Ashley Sullivan, COO of Creatros Technologies, became an entrepreneur by default. People with disabilities, Ashley says, have always had to figure out problems and how to solve them; they learn quickly how to read situations from a different perspective and to generate solutions. As the first person in a wheelchair to graduate in engineering at Memorial, Ashley is naturally inclined to see challenges and think about possible solutions. Becoming an entrepreneur meant taking those skills and applying them to the business world.
That transfer of skills takes perseverance, which Ashley identifies as a crucial strength. She describes herself as stubborn, someone who sticks with things even when they get tough. When people tell her something is impossible, she likes to prove them wrong.
Without Memorial’s Entrepreneurship Training Program, Ashley says, her company wouldn’t exist. Creatros happened because Ashley joined the ETP; she met her two co-founders when she was matched with them for a project. Creatros is a start-up that develops AI-powered tools for tech companies to track the skills of their technical employees. It automates skills-tracking processes to help managers assign tasks strategically and team members to identify colleagues with appropriate expertise.
Tech is an exciting field in this province, Ashley says. The industry did not suffer as much as others in 2020, and it is a supportive environment in which experienced entrepreneurs are happy to advise start-ups: the CEO will take your call and offer a suggestion. “Operating our business in Newfoundland has made a world of difference,” Ashley says.
What’s exciting about being an entrepreneur? “You’re basically the master of your own domain,” Ashley says. She is always excited to see something come from nothing, to create a product that will benefit others. She’s motivated by her team seeing new opportunities and finding new solutions.
“Trailblazer” isn’t a word Ashley would necessarily use to describe herself, but as a woman with a disability in the tech industry, she has faced and overcome numerous challenges, and she likes the idea that the next person coming along might feel she has helped to pave the way. She would like others to feel encouraged: “If you fail, it’s not a big deal - you just keep going; you do something else.”
Ashley tells new entrepreneurs not to be discouraged: “Don’t take no as a closed door. You can learn more from a no than a yes. I look at a no as the start of a conversation.” In the field of technology, she explains, the biggest challenge is also the biggest advantage: the fact that the field is always changing. “It’s important for business owners to adapt to change and think outside the box: if you don’t change, you’ll be outpaced.” As for Ashley, she is excited by the prospect of being the one who keeps breaking through and finding something new.
Trailblazer recognizes an entrepreneur who owns and operates a business that has excelled in a non-traditional industry for women-owned business or successfully established a business in an industry uncommon to the area in which it operates. This entrepreneur has blazed a trail for others to follow and find success. Sponsored by Cox & Palmer