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Report on Small Business hosted a Young Entrepreneurs Night on in July at RPM Startup Centre in Montreal, along with partners International Startup Festival and BDO Canada. The networking event, held in various cities across Canada, featured a group of early stage small-business owners, and students who aspire to be entrepreneurs. Photos by Katherine Scarrow.
Along with partners International Startup Festival and BDO Canada, Report on Small Business hosted a Young Entrepreneurs Night on in July at RPM Startup Centre in Montreal.
The networking event, which was liveblogged, featured a group of early stage small-business owners and students who aspire to be entrepreneurs.
The event was held in partnership with the International Startup Festival, a three-day event that brings together aspiring founders, ground-breaking innovators, and veteran entrepreneurs from around the world.
At RPM, we profiled a handful of young entrepreneurs in attendance, to learn more about their businesses.
Scroll through the following photos to learn more about these entrepreneurs.
Thanh Binh Ma Phung, founder of Vandal Games
1. What do you sell? First real time built on 3-D video games on browsers ever.
2. Where are you based? Montreal.
3. Number of employees: 12
4. Years in business: 2
5. Best advice: It's not a full time job; it's an overtime job. Save up on sleep and eat healthy.
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: The complications become really difficult and intense, but crossing this emotional hurdle again and again is what makes an entrepreneur.
7. How did you come up with your company's name? I always found that "Vandal" had a nice ring to it, and then I asked Van if he wanted his name in the company name!
8. Where will you be in 5 years: The hardcore gaming layer of the social platforms.
Alejandra and Karla Albrecht, co-owners of Club Enfants & Fiesta
1. What do you sell? Trendy parties for kids' birthday celebrations. We have a clean and chic party room where we throw the best themed parties for kids and tweens (ie spa, red carpet, rockstar). We are also mobile - catering to home parties, schools, and events in the Greater Montreal area - Fiesta-on-the-go!
2. Where are you based? In Laval, Quebec. 10 minutes from Montreal.
3. Number of employees: 9
4. Years in business: 2.5
5. Best advice: Do not try to do EVERYTHING yourself; ask for help. Ask a lot of questions to people that have already walked the path that you are now walking on...
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: When we were looking to open our first location, it seemed like all the doors were closing (i.e. financing, ideal location, partnerships, etc). We could have easily given up but our passion for business is greater than all of the discouragements and challenges. Working a full time job and developing a business was overwhelming but possible!
7. How did you come up with your company's name? We are originally from Mexico so we thought of a word that describes us and our business. FIESTA means PARTY in Spanish. Club Enfants means Kids' Club in French, so we liked the French-Spanish mix since it is a Quebec born company.
8. Where will you be in 5 years: Hopefully with 2 or 3 additional locations around Montreal and preparing to franchise.
Tanya Short, founder of Kitfox Games
1. What do you sell? Beautiful, difficult video games. Exploring is fun! Our current project is Shattered Planet.
2. Where are you based? Montreal
3. Number of employees: 4
4. Years in business: 2 months
5. Best advice: Don't panic. All you're risking is money, and the learning experience is worth that investment ten times over. Even at the worst, it's just another education.
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: The week we started work full-time, our lead programmer had a serious ulcer. Everyone on the team briefly felt that we were doomed. We had to seriously re-scope our project to meet tight deadlines, and we're still scrambling to recover, but I'm positive we'll end up a stronger team as a result.
7. How did you come up with your company's name? I'm from the California deserts, where kit foxes are native. Kitfox Games reflects our small-yet-cunning team and game designs.
8. Where will you be in 5 years: By 2018, Kitfox Games will be creating gorgeous online worlds for friends to explore together.
Megan Doepker, founder of UNA
1. What do you sell? We sell great bags, with a great story. UNA is a fair trade fashion label specializing in functional and fashionable leather messengers bags and ModPacks, the stylish reinvention of the fanny pack. Each bag is handcrafted by skilled artisans in India using organic leather.
2. Where are you based? Montreal
3. Years in business: Six months
4. Best advice: Start! There may never be a perfect time to start your business and you need to overcome whatever is holding you back. Often this is fear. Create a support network, share your idea, get feedback and turn those plans into action, starting today.
5. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: There has not yet been that moment of wanting to quit, though there is sometimes the difficulty of staying focused. There are many problems in our world that social business can solve, but for now I’m concentrating on UNA, and my mission to "fashion the change".
6. How did you come up with your company's name? The simple 3 letter word, UNA, is symbolic that we live one globalized and interconnected planet. I hope UNA inspires people to connect to their clothing and the impact it has on people and the planet.
7. Where will you be in 5 years: UNA will be further collaborating with artisans around the world, contributing to the demise of extreme poverty. We will make our mark in disrupting the fast fashion industry by continuing to offer timeless fashion that has been produced ethically and sustainably. Our social enterprise will be part of the slow fashion movement that has made sustainability the standard in high quality, fashion forward designs.
Maya Chivi, child and youth development specialist
1. What do you sell? I offer a range of services including educational consulting, program design, and evaluations; child and youth programs (focused on rights, empowerment, leadership, life skills, and etiquette); nursery professional development training; private parenting consults (in-person and online); parenting seminars and blog; and a few products (coming soon)
2. Where are you based? Canada and online (2013); Originally initiated some projects in Lebanon (2012)
3. Years in business: Currently in my second year
4. Best advice: Social entrepreneurship doesn’t mean making deals that will hurt the business or let it suffer – it’s ok to also be profitable
5. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: During periods when I’d have exceptionally tough days and forget why I originally started along this path.
6. How did you come up with your company's name?
Building a company with my expertise at the forefront of the services and products offered meant creating a brand around my name.
7. Where will you be in 5 years: I plan on doing more international development work and consulting; child and youth advocate and motivational speaker; represent organizations and products I believe in as a spokesperson; author parenting and children’s books; and develop a range of products that are in line with my goals and mission.
Kenneth Yip, co-founder of YES.TAP
1. What do you sell? We create social media marketing value for businesses using their customer's mobile devices.
2. Where are you based? Toronto
3. Number of employees: 2
4. Years in business: One year ear
5. Best advice: Start early. Just do it.
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: It is a lifestyle. You can not quit a lifestyle, otherwise that would mean you are quitting on life.
7. How did you come up with your company's name? YES.TAP - We've noticed increasingly strong indicators of the NFC market with terminals such as PayWave, PayPass, and smartphone NFC hardware integration. We saw a lot of cool stuff we could do with it to simplify everyone's lives and decided to build a business around it. The "TAP" comes from the gesture to interact with NFC and the "YES" adds a very nice ring to it.
8. Where will you be in 5 years: A world class company leading mobile and consumer usage in the Near-Field-Communication (NFC) space.
Lida Tohidi, founder of P2 Strong
1. What do you sell? Personalized health/fitness advice provided by well-being professionals.
2. Where are you based? Currently in Ottawa, possibly moving to Toronto soon.
3. Number of employees: 2
4. Years in business: One.
5. Best advice: From Dave McClure (Angel / Venture Capital field): 'connect with your audience on a human and emotional level - talk about failure, in a way that builds credibility (rather than just the 'fancy' success stories).' I just wish someone had told me that earlier, before my first pitch.
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: Challenges occur often that would make 'rational' people want to quit, and a particular time would be when my ex co-founder was not pulling his weight, and we had to part ways. We are still friends now, but it was a very difficult time and decision. I decided to keep going and persist, and due to this, to ultimately succeed.
7. How did you come up with your company's name? P2 STRONG = Potent Professionals (P2) + 'Strong is the new skinny' campaign
8. Where will you be in 5 years: http://Clarity.fm and beyond for health and fitness.
Bill Sweetman, founder of Name Ninja
1. What do you sell? Name Ninja is a domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Our most popular service is domain name acquisition -- we help startups, entrepreneurs, and marketers obtain the domain name of their dreams. We are the only company in Canada this is focused on this and one of only a handful in the entire world.
2. Where are you based? We are based in Toronto but serve clients around the world. About 60 per cent of our clients are in the US, Europe, and beyond.
3. Number of employees: We are a boutique operation with fewer than five employees. Thanks to the Internet, we work extensively with a large network of partners and suppliers and this greatly expands our reach and capabilities.
4. Years in business: We launched in the second quarter of 2013 however the founder of the company, Bill Sweetman, has been providing domain name consulting services since 1994.
5. Best advice: Don't let your fears get in the way of realizing your dreams. There's an old Japanese proverb I really like and was a source of inspiration for me as I launched my new company: "Fear is greater than the danger." I even had it printed on an earlier version of our business cards.
6. Describe a time when you wanted to quit: We had a client that didn't respect or listen to us, and that made for a stressful and unhappy situation. It also made me second guess what I was doing. Although I knew it meant walking away from a lucrative gig, I finally decided to politely fire the client. Life is too short to be working with people that don't treat you right.
7. How did you come up with your company's name? Since our business is all about names, I sweated the choice of our own name. I chose Name Ninja because I like the alliteration, "name" clearly defines our focus, and "ninja" suggests the stealth and unique expertise we bring to bear on domain name consulting projects. It also sounds like a boutique operation, and that was important to me.
8. Where will you be in 5 years: With the introduction of hundreds of new domain extensions (beyond the .com) over the coming years, we know that demand for our services is only going to increase. We may have grown to be a larger operation by then but it is important to me that we retain our boutique feel and culture.