Community Papers

30 UNDER 30: Michael, Maxine, Michelle, Monique & Celine Harjani

Celine, Maxine, Michael, Michelle and Monique Harjani. - Martin van den Hemel
Celine, Maxine, Michael, Michelle and Monique Harjani.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Students: Michael at BCIT, Maxine at Langara, Monique at UBC, Michelle and Celine at University of London

Work: Michelle, infrastructure assistant at Medeo, an online healthcare start-up

Age: 17, 17, 17, 17 and 16

High School: R.C. Palmer

It seems five siblings who graduated last year from RC Palmer secondary are learning lessons at nearly every turn.

And they’re loving every minute of it.

Quadruplets Maxine, Michael, Michelle and Monique and their younger sister Celine, collaborated on a winning business plan last year at the TYE Vancouver Venture Challenge for young entrepreneurs held in Washington, D.C.: to design, manufacture and market a high-tech wristband for diabetics fitted with a sensor that’s a non-invasive blood glucose monitor.

But taking the idea to the next level is “going to be a long and tiring journey,” Celine said.

“We’re still working on building KayaLife. We’ve experienced a lot of hurdles and setbacks…we’ve met with the NRC (National Research Council), and a potential manufacturer, investors and the like,” she said.

While four of the siblings are enrolled in school, Michelle has opted to jump into work, and was hired as an infrastructure assistant at Medeo, an online-healthcare start-up.

If the road they’ve travelled thus far is any indication, the future has no limits for the Harjanis.

They’ve already developed more than 40 apps for the App Store and Google Play, including one that received half a million downloads.

The Harjanis were born and raised in Indonesia, and after living in Florida, moved to Richmond a couple of years ago after an earlier visit left them speechless.

“It was love at first sight,” Celine said. “The view is absolutely beautiful and the people are too.”

Who is your inspiration? “A large chunk of inspiration comes from our entrepreneurial parents and grandparents. For example, the inspiration for KayaLife came from our tech-savvy grandmother and our grandfather who had diabetes. But we feel that we tend to draw most inspiration from the world around us, such as the places we travel to, books and articles, and the Internet.”

What are you most proud of? “We’re pleased about a lot of things we’ve done; whether that be winning the TiE Young Entrepreneurs Global Competition, or the 42 iOS apps we’ve released and 150 No. 1’s in the AppStore, or competitive golf accomplishments, self-learning German and French and Italian, even teaching our puppy how to open doors. But I think we’re most proud of our curiosity, our need to keep learning, and develop our minds, a characteristic instilled by our parents.”

What is your advice for others? “We’re usually asking others this. Something that we found that has helped us, that we think other people can benefit from, is to ask for advice and to get multiple perspectives on issues, including your own. Furthermore, we act upon our curiosity by also reading books, news articles, op-eds and Wikipedia pages.”

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