indicatorStart Up Business

Co founders of Playfield Co. share their tips for entrepreneurs

By ATB Financial 16 March 2019 2 min read

Like many people, Diego Arenas and Andy Nguyen had an idea for a business. Together, they took the less common step of putting in the work—and shouldering the risk—to bring their idea into reality.


The result is Playfield Co., one of Calgary’s hottest lifestyle brands and socially conscious businesses. Playfield makes sells bracelets made of natural stone and repurposed wood sustainably sourced from Southeast Asia. For every bracelet sold, Playfield also provides a school lunch to a local child in need through its partnership with Brown Bagging For Calgary’s Kids. Playfield aims to eventually provide one million meals through this program.

Diego and Andy sat down with ATB Entrepreneur Strategist Dustin Paisley recently to share their insights on starting a business. Here are four takeaways from their conversation.


1: Getting started can take time.

Some entrepreneurs espouse a “leap before you look” philosophy, arguing that getting started is more important than perfecting plans.

Andy and Diego see things a bit differently. After inspiration struck, they took a full year to build their business model, validate their idea, and grow Playfield’s brand. They feel it was time well spent.

“As much as you’re selling a product, you’re also selling a story,” Diego says. “We really worked on our story in that year, and I think that’s what made us stand out.”


2: Tap into networks to create buzz.

Starting a brand can seem a bit like riding a bike: getting things moving is the hard part. To build momentum for Playfield in its early days, Diego and Andy reached out to three different groups. They gave bracelets to family and friends. They built relationships with selected social media influencers. Finally, they went to local markets. Each strategy reached a different group of people and helped Playfield build buzz.

“That’s the beautiful trickle effect,” says Andy. “When something means something to somebody, they’re not going to stay silent. They are going to speak up and share a story, talk about it.

“Our growth has had a lot to do with that.”


3: Keep your bond with your partner strong.

As business partners, Diego and Andy know that they need a strong relationship to keep Playfield on the right path. Sometimes that means setting aside time to work on the bond.

“Partnerships can be tough,” says Diego. “You have to work through it with open dialogue and communication. People always joke and ask us how long we’ve been together, and we laugh.

“But it’s true that it’s a relationship and you have to work on it.”


4: Balance vision with flexibility.

Becoming fixated on a certain idea is common for entrepreneurs. Passion is par for the course, after all. But Andy advocates not getting too hung up on one particular vision.

“Don’t be too attached to your idea or your vision,” he says. “So many things change along the way. Sometimes we get too attached to how it looks and when it happens. That can take you away from authenticity.

“When you’re starting a business, it should never be like that. It’s supposed to be beautiful and fun. There are tough moments. There are going to be rainy days. But it should never be at the sacrifice of your identity or mental health.”

Interested in following your own entrepreneurial dreams? Head here to set up an appointment with Dustin or another entrepreneur strategist.

Do you have questions around starting a business?

We’ll take you step-by-step through everything you need to know when starting a business in Alberta.

Need help?

Our Business Support team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.