Sean Glendinning laughs when asked how many companies he owns. “Well, three or four, depending on how you count them,” said the 37-year-old with a chuckle.
“I own Fitness.com with partners in Germany; StudentScholarships.org with my brother, Ryan; there’s Nitesco Media; and I also spend about 30 per cent of my time working for Sissel in Switzerland, the company that makes all those exercise balls.”
The work alone is quite a juggling act.
But, Glendinning manages to do it from his home office in West Kelowna with his three-year-old son running around.
“I end up working seven days a week, sometimes 30 hours a week, sometimes 60 hours a week and sometimes until 2 a.m. in the morning if I’m helping European clients,” he said.
“But the schedule is my own. I welcome the distraction of watching my boy grow up and I’m able to pick up my 14-year-old daughter from school two days a week.”
Glendinning credits his dad, Bob, with convincing him self-employment was the way to go.
“He always taught both me and my brother to be independent,” he said.
“My dad’s encouragement and my high-tech skills made it possible.”
This story really starts in Kamloops in 2001 while Glendinning was taking a bachelor of technology and computing science at Thompson Rivers University.
He landed a work co-op in Kelowna at Wavefire, the now defunct web development firm.
A co-worker there was working on the Sissel account and needed some help.
Glendinning did and it led to some contract work with Vancouver-based Theragear, which was a Sissel subsidiary at the time.
Sissel took notice and he was invited to Europe to meet distributors in 2004 to explore how they could set up online e-commerce shops to sell everything from those exercise balls and pilates equipment to yoga gear and massage tables.
It turned into the long-standing relationship Glendinning has today with Sissel, designing the e-commerce shops for all of Sissel’s distributors in Europe.
Working in the world of fitness and high technology, Glendinning saw the opportunity to partner with some Germans to start up Fitness.com.
It’s a one-stop online shop for fitness information, healthy recipes and user forums.
The website is not only offered in English, but nine other languages, including German and Spanish.
It is accessible free to the public and is supported by advertising.
Fresh out of business school in Toronto, Glendinning’s brother, Ryan, had an idea for matching students with scholarships.
So StudentScholarships.org was born, a free site for students to find matches for scholarships throughout North America.
It, too, is supported by advertising.
Nitesco Media is a web-development-and-hosting and search-engine optimization engine company with a different approach.
Glendinning picks out domain names (he has thousands), builds a website and gets it to a No. 1 rating using aggressive search engine optimization and hundreds of key words.
He then finds customers to take over the domain name, he customizes the website further and hosts the website.
In a brilliant bit of cross-pollination, he often convinces these customers to put up a scholarship of at least $500 for StudentScholarships.org.
He’s also developed ArcticChiropractic.com for the Yukon, FairbanksChiropractic.com for a practitioner in Alaska and hundreds of websites for Leavitt Machinery for everything from the brand name to location and equipment-specific sites like ForkliftPartsCalifornia.com.
Glendinning picked up the volunteering bug while living in Morocco in 2001.
He went over to help Bayti, an organization fosters abused kids, with its information technology infrastructure.
He ended up doing that and more, teaching kids basic computer skills and English.
At home, he coaches in the Central Okanagan Minor Baseball Association, teaches Grade 8-9 students financial literacy through Junior Achievement and was the president of the Kelowna Jaycees, who got the ball rolling on the move to end the club’s men’s-only status.