Jin Fan, Co-Founder and CEO of ClearLED shares the story behind her company and what it took to get where they are today.
“Working with Wavefront really helped us discover our potential. We were set on a path to build a successful business.”
In 2012, Jin Fan started a digital signage company with a vision to become the premier vendor for commercial transparent displays. Like many first time entrepreneurs, Fan found that trying to build a company without a business background was a challenge. After hearing about Wavefront and its community of support for building IoT-based businesses, she knew she had to get involved.
“I had a technical and design background but no business training, so I was really looking to surround myself with a community of like-minded individuals to get the company going.”
Wavefront’s Support Network
In 2014 Fan enrolled in the Venture Acceleration Program at Wavefront where she learned how to identify the right market, build a viable business plan, and put processes in place for critical systems like financial and operations management. As with all program participants, Fan was welcomed into the coworking space at Wavefront’s downtown office – she thrived off of the connection with other entrepreneurs, mentors and Wavefront staff.
“We were very fortunate to call the Wavefront office home during our formative years. Being a part of the community and learning from other entrepreneurs was invaluable,” says Fan.
Fan cites the mentorship received through the program as a key factor that helped her avoid early startup mistakes. She was assigned a mentor who helped her work through the first critical steps to setting up a business. This included preparing for investor meetings, tapping into a new network of industry contacts and charting a strategic plan.
“Having ongoing mentorship was a game changer for us. The quarterly review process helped clarify our vision, reach our target market faster and gain valuable connections to industry partners and talent.”
Fan’s Highlights of the Venture Acceleration Program:
- Mentorship from veteran business leaders
- Engaging with partners and new industry contacts
- Affordable coworking space in downtown Vancouver
Wavefront also played a role in introducing ClearLED to ENS signage, a software platform designed to manage custom sign content. By collaborating and pairing up complementary products, ClearLED was able to land a deal with McDonald’s offer custom signage displays for stores in the US.
Where ClearLED is Today
Three years later and all the hard work has paid off. ClearLED already boasts an impressive client roster including Zara, Lush, luxury car companies like Lamborghini and Land Rover, Nine West and McDonald’s, to name a few. The digital signs are custom-made to draw the eyes of retail shoppers, whether they’re looking for a big mac or a high-end vehicle.
With sleek designs and semitransparent displays, the screens provide key advantages over traditional printed signage. Just ask McDonald’s, who reported a 360% increase in monthly profits after installing ClearLED signs in a Mississippi branch. According to the McDonald’s branch manager, the sign paid for itself in 44 days and provides long-term cost savings for the company.
“The sooner all McDonald’s stores adopt ClearLED the better,” says the branch manager.
Fan has since moved her team out of the Wavefront office and has set up shop with a team of 12 employees in Burnaby.
For Canada’s 150th birthday, Fan’s company also created a 3300 square foot custom transparent LED display to be featured at the National Art Center in Ottawa. The installation was unveiled on July 1st, 2017. Covered with ClearLED’s display technology, it sets the record as the largest LED display in North America.