Richard Waters: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Phantom Glass Founder Richard Waters, whose innovative product will be the last screen protector your phone will ever need. Here’s how he made it happen and the inspiration behind the idea…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the Founder of Phantom Glass. I am responsible for the day-to-day activities of running the company, growing our sales, and educating in-store reps about Phantom Glass.

Phantom Glass is the last screen protector you’ll ever need. It’s a fully tempered glass screen protector that’s designed to withstand impacts, scratches, and fingerprints. It’s like there’s nothing on your device. Not only does it install easily, and without bubbles, it’s also completely reusable. I’m responsible for the creation of the product, and now the sales and sales support. It’s a fun time.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was working at RBC in a sales role, and I started developing Phantom Glass. I figured there had to be a better way of protecting touch screens than those terrible film-based products. After two years of development, Phantom Glass is now available at retailers across North America.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
My favourite part is chatting with actual users of the product. In each Phantom Glass, there’s a “Letter from the Creator” where I include my email. I really enjoy reading the comments and praises people send about the product. The most challenging part is trying to ignore my email inbox after 6pm… my job keeps me working literally 24 hours.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
The fact that I respond to emails at 4am and spend a few nights a week awake all night to correspond with our operations overseas. I’d say that’s a pretty big sign that I don’t “cut the cord.” I’m always working. But I love what I do, so it’s not like work at all.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Working on Phantom Glass and breathing life into a few other little ideas I have tossing around in my head.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’d say that my age is, at times, my greatest asset, but also a major challenge. It’s always interesting to see the reactions of people I work with when they find out that I just turned 20… it’s hard to take someone seriously when they cannot legally drink alcohol or rent a car. I usually just try not to think about it, and it doesn’t really come up in conversation. But when it does, it makes for a great laugh.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success to me is waking up every day and doing something I love. Right now, I feel pretty successful. Seeing my product on the shelves at major retailers across the country is an amazing feeling. As Jerry Seinfeld said, “The blessing in life is finding the torture you are comfortable with. Find the torture you’re comfortable with and you’ll do fine. You master that, you’ve mastered life.”

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I’d say walking into a Staples location and seeing my product on the shelf was pretty substantial. It made the whole thing real. It’s still surreal.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The biggest thing for me was doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t listen to parents, friends, or family. I did what I thought would be right for me, and it worked out. For the young professionals still in university, don’t graduate with a sense of entitlement. I worked an entry-level sales job for two years, putting every paycheque towards Phantom Glass. I didn’t just wake up, incorporate a business and look for handouts. I ran my business out of the men’s room in a bank for a good year or so.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Such a great question; too many places to pick. When I’m going somewhere casual, sushi will do, but I think Lee Lounge on King is probably my favourite place in the city and the best dining experiences I’ve ever had were there.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me time?
I seldom get some beloved “me” time these days, but usually listening to some Howard Stern and/or making music does the trick. 

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I’d have to say that New York City is up there. It’s a great place to go. You’ll never get bored in NYC. There’s so much going on.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
A Hard Day’s Night.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Probably living somewhere downtown, going to U of T, slacking off. Uhh that actually sounds pretty good right now.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m a big supporter of Sick Kids. They do great things and save lives every day.

What to you is notable?
People who never give up. Great thinkers, innovators and hard workers.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
All of the above.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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