Aileen Chinwe Agada
Aileen Agada is the founder of BeBlended–a tech startup focused on the black hair care industry. She has a passion for engineering, solving systemic problems, and inspiring women to be their best selves. After working in a variety of companies in Canada and Belgium; Aileen has decided to venture into the entrepreneurial world with her startup! As a founder, Aileen attributes her success to her hard work, supportive network, and active Christian faith. When she is not working on BeBlended or studying engineering things, you can find her hiking, mentoring women within her community, and spending time with friends and family.
Name: Aileen Chinwe Agada
Education: BASc. Environmental Engineering | Master’s in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET)
Profession: Entrepreneur & Engineer
Years of Experience: 4+ years
When you were a child, did you envision becoming what you are now?
Not at all! Ever since I was 8, I wanted to be an Obstetrician. Clearly things have changed.
Can you please tell us about your journey? When did you first think to yourself, “I made it”?
Where do I start? I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada alongside my two older brothers. My parents immigrated to Canada from Nigeria and were very adamant on the importance of education. I was highly involved in my high school and university communities. Started my undergrad in Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2015, and will be graduating this Spring 2021. I’ve worked everywhere from Manulife Financial, the Government of Canada, a startup in Belgium, and many other public and private companies. In 2018, I decided to start my software company called BeBlended – an online marketplace that connects Black women to hairstylists worldwide. Fast forward to the present, I’m finally finishing up my engineering degree, starting my master’s, and transitioning to work full-time on BeBlended as the Founder & CEO. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve “made it,” however I think completing my engineering degree is quite an accomplishment!
Did you face any challenges on your journey to get where you are? Do you currently face any challenges?
Yes, most definitely! With regards to challenges in my undergraduate degree, I failed my 2nd semester of 1st year in 2016. Despite doing well academically in high school, I found transitioning into university very challenging. Due to the specificity of my program, I had to wait 8 months to join the next cohort and repeat all my courses again. This experience taught me what it truly felt like to fail. Going through an 8 month waiting period allowed me to realize that it was solely up to me to choose how I respond to failure. Was I going to stay down or was I going to persevere, make new changes, and try again? Well, I’m happy to tell you that I decided to try again! Although it was hard, today I see failure as a learning experience and not a burden. Currently, the challenges I face are mainly related to starting a company with limited resources.
What skills do you believe a person needs to succeed in your profession?
Perseverance, grit, optimism, and empathy. Starting a business is hard – everyone tells you it can’t be done, people come and go, you hear a lot of no’s, but at the end of the day it’s totally worth it.
What advice would you give to others who aspire to be where you are?
Work hard, believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who genuinely love you, and don’t let the fear of failure stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Can you please share one goal you achieved that you are extremely proud of?
Starting BeBlended! I started off on my own but now we’re a team of 5 and I’m truly excited to see this BeBlended’s vision come to life. Stay tuned for what’s to come!