The Power of Action: How Entrepreneurs Make a Difference

Framework curated by Luke DeCoste, Entrepreneur-in-Residence with MindFrame Connect

Robert Niven hears urgent pleas for help from people whose lives are being devastated by climate change while he attends the Montreal UN Climate Change Conference in 2006 (Nexus PMG, 2020).  A grad student at the time, he is compelled to act.

Niven’s thesis investigates the crucial need for "natural and engineered carbon sinks,” and how concrete production could contribute to the solution (Niven, 2006).

While his peers take jobs and pursue PhDs after graduation, Niven launches a consulting company to increase carbon storage and decarbonization in the concrete sector. Five years later, he launches a second company, CarbonCure to commercialize a pioneering technology that turns concrete into a carbon sink.

Because he acted, Niven is now in line for world-saving impact. Cement - concrete's key ingredient - is a massive emitter of greenhouse gas responsible for an estimated 7% of the world's CO2 emissions, Bill Gates said when he invested in CarbonCure. With the world on track to build another New York City every month for 40 years, mostly with concrete, CarbonCure's technology offers a crucial opportunity to reduce emissions (Gates, 2019). 

Entrepreneurs Act

Hundreds of thousands of studies have been published trying to understand what makes entrepreneurs succeed. A key finding is that personal initiative and proactive actions are key to success. “All the evidence we have indicates that the growth of firms is connected with the attempts of a particular group of human beings to do something,” wrote management scholar Dr. Edith Penrose nearly 75 years ago (1959). Simply, entrepreneurs act.

Niven acted despite the uncertainty and possibility of failure. As simple as this sounds, it also puts him in the minority. Of those who consider launching a business, less than 50% take any action, not even googling the opportunity or speaking to a friend about it (Bennett & Chatterji, 2023).

Katherine Homuth: From Student to Founder Through Action

In the tenth grade, Katherine Homuth made a decision that worried her teachers. She was so determined to start a business she dropped classes she thought weren’t going to help her with that.

When she got to university though, Homuth still didn't know what company to start. Still determined to start a business, she connected with founders she admired, using Twitter to introduce herself to female entrepreneurs in Toronto.  

Determined to take as many shots on net as possible, she planned conferences and business plan competitions, and registered businesses that went nowhere. While studying at Schulich, Homuth was driving to Waterloo nearly every week to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit. Despite this, she still didn’t know how to proceed. “As I finished school, I was disappointed that I didn't have the idea. I just didn't know what I wanted todo. I had a few false starts and things just didn't get off the ground” (Spark Centre, 2021).

She continued to immerse herself in the world of entrepreneurship, including working at a Toronto startup. Through involvement with entrepreneurship conferences, she met Tobi Lütke, then CEO of Shopify, an Ottawa e-commerce company founded a few years prior. She identified theme stores for Shopify as an opportunity and began exploring how to turn this into a business.

ShopLocket Early Designs

With little funds to start, Homuth hacked together a prototype and showed it to one of the Toronto entrepreneurs she met on Twitter. That entrepreneur believed in Homuth enough to make the first investment into Homuth’s business. This was a pivotal vote of confidence for Homuth, who used these funds to hire a contractor to help build out the app. She soon convinced that contractor to join as a co-founder. At just 20 years old Homuth now had an idea, a team, and some runway to make it happen.

Before long, the company she founded – ShopLocket - was helping 10,000 users. This caught the attention of billion-dollar manufacturing company, PCH, who acquired Shop Locket in 2014, changing Homuth’s life forever (betakit, 2014).

In the years that followed Homuth she struggled once more to know what company to start, but still, she acted. A decade after her first acquisition, she is transforming the apparel industry by building Sheertex (MindFrame Connect, 2022). The company has patented new materials resulting in products like indestructible panty hose. Homuth expects the company will end the waste of disposable tights. Last year the firm had nearly $50 million in revenue (Chan, 2024).


The Balancing Act: Uncertainty and You

Similar to Niven, Homuth’s success stemmed from taking action despite uncertainty. Both stories illustrate the crucial role of initiative.

As important as it is though, action does not come at all costs. As serial entrepreneur and resilience expert Erik Severinghaus told us here, building a successful company takes years (MindFrame Connect, 2022). While action is necessary, Dr. Michael Freeman reminds us here that entrepreneurs need to also take action that build their resilience (MindFrame Connect, 2022)

Stay tuned for further insights on how entrepreneurs can maintain well-being so they can continue taking action, including the mindsets and supports that help Niven and Homuth sustain action.


Bennett, V. M., & Chatterji, A. K. (2023). The entrepreneurial process: Evidence from a nationally representative survey. Strategic Management Journal, 44(1), 86–116.

betakit. (2014). Former Extreme Startups Company Shoplocket Acquired by PCH International | BetaKit.

Chan,A. (2024). Katherine Homuth: The Visionary Behind SRTX’s Revolutionary Sheertex Tights And Innovations. Forbes.

Gates,B. (2019, October 28). Buildings are bad for the climate.

MindFrame Connect. (2022). Building your Resilience with MindFrame Connect.

MindFrame Connect. (2022). Entrepreneurship is an 8-year Journey.

MindFrame Connect. (2022). Staying True to Your Vision.

Nexus PMG (Director). (2020, October 2). #102 Rob Niven, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CarbonCure Technologies.

Niven, R. A. J. (2006). Physiochemical investigation of CO₂ accelerated concrete curing as a greenhouse gas mitigation technology [McGill University].

Penrose, E. (1959). The Theory and Growth Of The Firm (First ed).

Spark Centre (Director). (2021, August 27). Startup Grind with Katherine Homuth, Founder & Inventor of Sheertex.




Share this Resource

Want incredible results from your mentorship program?
Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Want to improve your mentorship skills?
Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date on the latest frameworks, tools, and more.
Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please Try again