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With a focus on inclusivity and innovation, the future’s bright for this Edmonton-based solar-powered business

When Jason Courtepatte was apprenticing as an electrician, he was introduced to the Solar Energy Society of Alberta. It was – excuse the pun – a lightbulb moment for the Edmonton-based Courtepatte.

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This story is part of our Empowered Entrepreneurs series, which profiles some of the inspiring businesses taking part in Blueprint: Backing BIPOC Businesses from American Express which provides mentorship and grants to support the advancement of 100 BIPOC entrepreneurs across Canada.

“I feel like we’re at the precipice of true energy independence, and solar energy is one method of us getting there within our lifetimes,” he explains. “Watching new tech developments and seeing how it’s accepted and adjusted by industries and consumers is fascinating to me.”

He remained interested in renewable energy as he completed his training, getting his journeyman certification, working at an electrical contracting company and a stint as an operations manager for a solar installation company.

By spring 2020, the time felt right to strike out on his own, doing his part to move his industry forward on every level. “I wanted to lead a team, grow a brand and provide safe, inclusive and fairly-priced electrical services,” he says.

Proudly Métis, Courtepatte has also made inclusivity a key value at Kite Electric since the start.

“It’s terribly important to me because I feel there are far too many underrepresented communities in this particular trade,” he says, “And that has to change.”

Actively employing women in the trade, including a team helmed by lead foreman Andrea Rand and new junior project manager Kristen Wild, along with being a member of the Alberta LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce and the only electrical company listed on rainbowconnect.ca (a Canadian network of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses) are all part of his ongoing mission to foster an inclusive environment.

For any small business, the first year is almost guaranteed to be a bumpy road. Add in the challenges of a pandemic and many would have been thrown off course completely.

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Amber Bracken/Amber Bracken / The Globe and Mail

Courtepatte has had no shortage of trials, from supply chain disasters to being hung out to dry for $100,000 for a project.

“I went into that agreement a little too naive. I wasn’t expecting ill intentions from the other party and no contract in the world can prevent that,” he says, “I now do a much more thorough job of meeting with folks to understand their intentions and to see where the synergy is in our companies.”

Overall, he has managed to reframe the early challenges and look for the lessons to carry him forward. “I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything, the education that came out of that was phenomenal,” he says, “And here we are stronger than ever.”

Being a recipient of American Express Canada’s Blueprint program has also been fortifying. The initiative supports one hundred Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) small business owners across Canada with a 15-week mentorship program along with $10,000 each to help take their businesses to the next level.

“I’m very proud of being selected as one of the one hundred, but the feeling that most came over me when I say the email was relief,” says Courtepatte, “It was during a tough week with payroll and I had quite a few bills lining up. On the entrepreneurial roller coaster, it was one of the lows and I just let out an audible sigh of relief.”

The program also includes virtual workshops, small group sessions and one-on-one meetings with experienced program mentors that identify as BIPOC to address areas such as sales, marketing, operations and leadership. Founded on research commissioned by Amex Canada, which revealed that BIPOC business owners face enhanced barriers to accessing networking and mentorship compared to their white counterparts, the program’s unique design resonated deeply with Courtepatte.

“There’s a massive need for mentorship,” he says, “I saw this as an opportunity for being partnered up with somebody. I need someone who can provide that 30,000-foot view and work with me for a while.”

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Amber Bracken/Amber Bracken / The Globe and Mail

With word of mouth fueling stellar growth of his business, Courtepatte quickly invested the $10K grant in the outsourcing of accounting and HR.

“I’m a really good electrician, but I’m still learning quite a bit about business ownership,” he says, citing the analogy of jumping off a cliff and building the plane on your way down.

Thanks to his outsourced HR strategy, which led to the hiring of a new project manager on his team, Courtepatte is also enjoying an unexpected benefit from the program: more time for the big picture.

“Hiring for that role has not only allowed my business to expand, but it’s allowed me to take a half step out of day-to-day tasks,” he says, “And I’ve been able to grow and develop another venture to a scale I hadn’t thought possible for at least five to ten years.”

That other venture, Legacy Renewables, is a complete service offering renewable energy installations – electrical vehicle charging stations, for example – that they’re hoping to take to the international market next year.

Always on the lookout for inspiration from other industries that he can adapt to his own, Courtepatte found the group calls with other entrepreneurs an exciting opportunity to connect with, and learn from, BIPOC business owners across the country. Still, his favourite sessions have been the one-on-ones. “I’ve enjoyed being vulnerable on those calls and saying here’s all the things I’m struggling with – let’s talk about how you can help me,” he says.

Driven to support underrepresented communities and get youth excited about education and training opportunities in renewable energy in the trades, Courtepatte and Kite Electric are now set up to soar into the future.


Get to know more about Kite Electric by visiting their site and social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.

To view the full list of 100 businesses taking part in the Blueprint: Backing BIPOC Businesses mentorship and grant program, visit dmz.to/AmexBlueprint.


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with American Express. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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