ArticleWe all face moments in our life where it feels nearly impossible to push forward. see more
We all face moments in our life where it feels nearly impossible to push forward. Particularly when being an entrepreneur, the path comes with some unexpected turbulence. Mike Irvine, founder of Live It, is well seasoned with these moments as he devoted himself to a life built around his passion.
“I’ve wanted to hit the ‘f*ck it’ button so many times, I’ve worn out the actual ‘f*ck it’ on the button,” Mike says. “It’s just worn out and stained with my blood but I keep going.”
Mike’s unconventional path traces back to his early childhood when he started learning to dive with his father who worked for Aqua Lung. His curiosity in the underwater world stemmed from an admiration of famous explorers like Jacques-Yves Cousteau and of course, being mentored by his dad.
Mike with his father Greg Irvine and Bruce Irvine together after Mike defended his thesis in Victoria 2015.
“When I started getting more into this world, I was really entering his world,” says Mike. “We connected on a different level because he was able to share his experiences with me.”
Aside from diving, Mike also had a passion for space and always wanted to be an astronaut. “I’m getting there. It’s actually in my 10 year plan. I will go to space.”
Mike looking like a real astronaut at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, April 2019.
After growing up a bit (and realizing it’s hard to become an astronaut), he pursued a degree in Greek and Roman history with a film minor from the University of Victoria. Through his studies he realized he also liked making movies. It was then that he came up with the idea to pair his love of diving with his love of film.
“I wanted to do live underwater shows; I just wasn’t sure what they would look like at the time.”
Mike decided to go back to school to get his Masters in Education, Curriculum and Instruction. In 2015, he defended his thesis live, underwater and was featured on the Discovery Channel.
At the same time, he co-founded a non-profit called the Fish Eye Project with Maeva Guathierto, to educate students in ocean literacy through his live dive shows. He was also running his newly founded company, Subeye Technologies, to develop web cameras for underwater security systems.
Mike with his Co-Founder Maeva at Fisherman’s Wharf for World Oceans Day 2018.
Although Mike was accomplishing a lot, he was facing many challenges as he navigated the rocky road of entrepreneurship. He decided to walk away from Subeye Technologies due to conflicting views. He also realized the non-profit model wasn’t sustainable for what he wanted to accomplish.
“The biggest challenge I had to overcome was my relationship with money. I needed to respect and understand that it’s not a negative thing. We started with passion, but that is not a business. It’s great, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”
After developing the tools and systems necessary through his previous endeavors, Mike founded Live It in 2017 to provide live streaming, educational nature programs in any natural environment from sea to space. Think Netflix, but live and interactive!
Mike, Maeva and Mike Blazecka on way to the Arctic for Canada’s 150th Expedition 2017.
“Everything I base all of our stuff on is inquiry-based learning. It’s fundamental to human nature. It’s how you come to know and understand the world around you. You need that space to grow.”
Mike also sees the value in inquiry-based learning because it helps inspire younger generations to get involved in initiatives and causes that inspiration in them.
“The premise is from Silvia Earlie where knowing is the key to caring. They might not care if they know but they can’t care if they’re unaware. If you fall in love with it, you want to protect it and then that leads to the next phase where this becomes your life’s work.”
That’s where the idea of Live It came in - watch it, love it, Live it.
Mike doing a live show in the Arctic on the Canada C3 ship for Canada’s 150th Expedition 2017.
Mike says it hasn’t been an easy journey but he’s had some incredible experiences that have made it all worth it. A couple highlights include meeting the former Governor General of Canada, David Johnson, and participating in Canada’s 150th Expedition which took him all the way to the Arctic. He’s also been to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah where they streamed to 150 Classrooms about what life would be like on mars...in the middle of nowhere.
Another big moment for Live It was going live on the big screen in IMAX Theatres across the country.
The world’s first live underwater dive show in IMAX Theatres by Fisheye Project during World Oceans Day 2016.
It wasn’t without a couple speedbumps though. “Live is the epitome of Murphy’s law,” says Mike. “Anything that can go wrong doesn’t just go wrong - It epically goes wrong. But that is what makes it authentic.”
Mike has found insight for dealing with the hardship that comes with an entrepreneurial journey from his newest passion of rock climbing.
“You push yourself to new boundaries and areas that you never thought were possible. It’s about facing your fears head on and choosing to keep going even with bleeding hands and everything else.”
He adds whether you’re hanging off a rock face or in the trenches of business pains, the beautiful, blissful moments are the reason people can continue on.
“That’s all we get in life are those moments. They just become more and more beautiful when you’ve worked really hard to get it.”
Author: Michaela Schluessel
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