By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times
Mellissa Quinn is among an elite group of young movers and shakers in B.C.’s business community.
BC Business magazine named her among this year’s “30 Under 30”, a listing based on an assessment by the magazine’s staff of youthful business leadership in the province.
At 28 years of age, the Aldergrove resident achieved the rarified 30 Under 30 status by way of Left, a tech company that operates out of Maple Ridge.
Her story starts in a common vein.
“I grew up in Aldergrove,” she recounts, “attending Betty Gilbert and Aldergrove Community Secondary School up until Grade 8.”
She transferred to Langley Secondary “to be a part of the soccer program they had at the time,” she explained, and right after high school, she went after a business degree at University of Victoria.
She returned to Aldergrove and finished the degree, with a major in Human Resources, at Simon Fraser University, meanwhile taking some time for a semester at the Lund School of Economics and management in Sweden.
It was a fill-in position for a maternity leave in 2015 that drew her into the tecchnology industry.
But the tech industry has not been seen as a traditionally welcoming career choice for women.
“Indeed, there are diversity challenges in the industry,” Quinn admitted. “Specifically if you look at the more technical roles.”
The culture at Left appealed to her, however.
“It was the emphasis on people, culture and innovation [at Left] that drew me in and kept me there,” she said. “I now couldn’t imagine being in another industry.”
At Left, she said, “we constantly trying to do our part to move the needle on diversity for the industry as a whole. For myself specifically, I feel very fortunate to have been surrounded by an incredible group of people at Left! I have been encouraged and supported to step up in ways that I don’t think I believed I was capable of.”
She quickly ascended the corporate ladder from her maternity leave coverage job.
She is now director of corporate strategy at RightMesh, a Left subsidiary that focuses on providing communication and networking software without requiring Internet connection and related infrastructure, particularly in emerging economies and developing countries.
“Our mission is to connect the next billion users,” Quinn explained. “There are currently 3.9 billion people in the world who lack connectivity, although access to the Internet is a human right. Our inspiration stems from a primary focus on remote regions and developing countries where the current digital divide is greatest.”
Last year, RightMesh released it’s own cryptocurrency to provide incentive for network users to both use the system and “behave” while doing so.
“The RightMesh token itself will be used to settle transactions and pay for services within the network,” said Quinn. “So, if you allow me to send a message using your connectivity, I pay you Rightmesh Tokens, and you have now earned value just for having a device that is connected.”
People all around the world, where they abide by their local regulations, can pay for the tokens when they are initially created, explained Quinn, “so it is kind of like a manufacturer pre-selling their inventory.”
Quinn said her company sold $30M USD of Rightmesh Tokens in its ICO (initial coin offering), and has “gained an amazing community from that who is eager to help support the network and our mission.”
Among the “amazing reasons we’re very fortunate to live in B.C.” is that it is “incredibly innovative.”
She believes in the importance of using business and technology “as a force for good. There are a lot of company’s out there doing amazing things, but we can use technology to bridge the gap and change lives. “
She recently joined Run for Water as a volunteer, and aims to use technology within their projects, “as a way to increase efficiency and transparency on the ground in Ethiopia.”
“At the end of the day,” Quinn concluded, “it’s about trying to make a positive impact on as many lives as possible.”