In the first part of WEtech Alliance’s Youth Entrepreneurship Series, I recently sat down with Lois Li of Domestic Diesel Ltd. Lois Li is a 24-year old law student/nursing graduate who is the co-founder of Domestic Diesel Ltd. The venture, which is part of the Summer Company program administered locally by the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre, started only two short months ago and converts waste vegetable oil into bio-diesel fuel.
The company’s motto speaks to the precise goal of the company: “Just Like Diesel, But Greener.” Li explained that the advantage to using bio-diesel fuel is the increased environmental friendliness when compared to regular diesel fuels: “…it emits fewer particles into the environment and burns more completely so you don’t see black smoke coming out from the exhaust pipe.” One of the most rewarding parts to the venture to Li is the prospect of simultaneous environment protection and economic development.
A self-described entrepreneur, Lois has been a salesperson since she was a child selling her father’s grasshopper figures made of leaves to other kids. Born in China and transplanted to Toronto as a child, her family moved to Windsor when she was in high school. When describing the city, she describes Windsor as a city of the perfect size to start a business: “[Windsor] isn’t too big for you to get lost […] and it’s large enough for you to do the business you want and establish the connections you want.”
Entrepreneurship isn’t all success, however; Lois has had her share of entrepreneurial disappointment in the past years. “I tried to establish a website business when I was younger in late high school, early University,” explained Li. “I was by myself so I did the marketing, the sales and made the website on my own. I didn’t have much time to do the website when I was doing the sales and marketing.” Any experience (positive or negative), however, is completely worthwhile as long as there are lessons to be learned. “I learned two things: one – I cannot do everything myself, and two – I needed to get myself a partner.”
When asked about the future of the company, Lois was very quick to respond. “[In five years], I hope we have branched out to areas like London but we would see the Windsor facility as fully operational and making the level of production we desire for supply to big local companies.” When I asked her if she had any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, Lois offered this small, but valuable tidbit: “If you have an idea and you believe in yourself, you should do it.” This is sound advice for any person looking to start a business.
Before she left, she wanted to make sure to acknowledge Diane and Sabrina at the Small Business Centre for their support, the Centre for Enterprise and Law at the University of Windsor for their mentorship and WEtech Alliance. In addition, if you own a local restaurant with grease to spare, Domestic Diesel Ltd. would be happy to collect it for you!
For more information about Domestic Diesel, please visit http://domesticdiesel.ca.
About WEtech Alliance’s Youth Entrepreneurship Series: For the next few weeks, WEtech Intern Jacob McCourt will be running a series of interviews with young Windsor-area entrepreneurs in anticipation of the Entrepreneurial Spark Tour event happening at St. Clair College on September 5th in partnership with Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza. This event will allow St. Clair College students to touch, see and interact with innovations happening right here in Windsor.