September 27, 2022

When Clay Canfield first began launching companies of his own, he says several of his ideas failed.
However, the 23-year-old Washington University student isn’t ashamed of the ventures that floundered. Instead, he’s taken lessons from each to apply to his current businesses. Canfield is founder of e-commerce company ClayCEnterprises and Sobriety Hub, a startup that has developed operations management software for sober living facilities.
Canfield took a two-year break from his studies at Washington University and lived in Los Angeles, where he worked as a house manager at an addiction treatment facility. He says that’s where came up with the idea for Sobriety Hub, noticing that facilities were lacking in their use of technology.
Canfield is studying finance and entrepreneurship at WashU with plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in 2023.
How does Sobriety Hub work? It’s an operations management software for sober living houses. Sober living houses collect drug tests and they collect medication information and they monitor their residents to make sure they are engaged in their recovery. When I was working in sober living, they didn’t really use advanced technology and they put all this information for clients on pen and paper. That’s what sparked the idea. It’s a digital substitute for pen and paper note taking.
Did you always envision becoming an entrepreneur? I’ve always been very driven to make an impact, but I didn’t become interested in starting businesses until the last couple of years. I was pretty creative as a kid, and I actually entered school at WashU studying film alongside business.
What’s your proudest accomplishment? Fear used to drive 99% of my decision-making. About 3 years ago, it became abundantly clear that that wasn’t working for me anymore. Through a lot of personal development work, I’ve learned how to be less fear-driven. I’m very proud of this.
Where do you see yourself and your career in five years? I see myself owning and operating my current venture, Sobriety Hub. The goal is to cement ourselves as the de facto “must-have” solution for sober living homes. At that point, I would like to start leveraging the pile of data we will have collected to advance research in the behavioral health field and see if we can get insurance companies to start paying for recovery housing!
What can St. Louis do to engage more young entrepreneurs like yourself? Some of the biggest moments for us were getting small amounts of non-dilutive funding. With a startup like ours, where we worked on the business full-time over the whole summer, I think that little pieces of financial support along the way were well-deserved and put to great use. If the funder can verify that the venture is working hard, I am confident that small amounts (<$1,000) in very early-stage startups will pay dividends to the St. Louis entrepreneurship community down the road.
Who’s your biggest mentor? Joe Klema. Joe’s a certified interventionist and behavioral health professional in California. Joe helped me start my first business and has had a profound impact on my personal development.
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