Six years ago, Sean Collins earned a spot on the Top 40 Under 40 list. His entrepreneurship skills, which had attracted the attention of Silicon Valley investors to Edmonton’s technology scene, combined with his passion for teaching and mentoring students at the University of Alberta, made him a worthy candidate. It was in that Top 40 interview, back in 2012, when Collins said, “perceived risk is always greater than actual risk.” But does he still believe it today? “I actually sort of double down on that quote,” Collins says with a smile.
A full-time entrepreneur now, Collins has set aside his teaching role and is focusing on the company he co-founded, Terrapin Geothermic. Terrapin is a company which, at Collins’s simplest explanation, takes waste heat and attempts to repurpose it as electricity. “The teaching was starting to take up more and more of my time and focus… I wanted to have my entrepreneurial successes and life requires focus in certain ways. It remains to this day probably the most passionate I’ve been about anything.”
Collins says that he still mentors some students, but his main focus is divided between his family and his work to develop new forms of energy, even if that means taking on plans that other companies are too risk-averse to accept. “I challenge a lot of people to focus more on what the upsides of saying yes to something new are, as opposed to what all the reasons why it would make sense to say no,” Collins says.
Energy has always been a passion for Collins, who grew up in Fort McMurray. He started Student Energy while at the University of Alberta, a group that has been spreading its wings internationally, even giving him the chance to speak twice at the United Nations about sustainable energy and youth engagement within energy transition work. Collins has had six years of ups, downs, and growth. In his personal life, he’s started a family, purchased a home, attempted to live in Calgary for a little bit, but moved back in 2015 because he says, “Edmonton’s just an awesome, rad city.”
This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.