Skip to main content
small business briefing

Ugi Fitness co-founders Sara Shears, Deb Karby and Melanie Finkleman, and their Ugi ball

New role moves from stretchy pants company to business where you need to wear them

Vancouver-based Ugi Fitness Inc. -- the company that benefited from the growth advice of former Report on Small Business columnist John Warrillow in the "reality series" we ran  last year -- took the advice on connecting with Lululemon Athletica Inc.

But it wasn't exactly in  the way Mr. Warrillow suggested.

Mr. Warrillow said  the fitness business might want to become a strategic partner of or even become an interesting acquisition candidate for  a company like Lululemon.

Instead, the company has done some acquiring of its own from Lululemon by hiring former Lululemon controller Dave Andru to become Ugi Fitness's chief financial officer and acting chief executive officer.

Ugi has created a 30-minute workout centred on a weighted ball. It combines strength, cardio and core training.  The three working mom co-founders -- Deb Karby, Sara Shears and Melanie Fiinkleman --brainstormed the company over a coffee as a workout solution for a busy schedule.

Ms. Karby wanted to hire a CEO last year when the tasks involved in running the business proved more than the team of three could handle. Mr. Warrillow recommended that the company hold off on a CEO hire and instead focus on hiring from the bottom up.

But times have changed.  Mr. Andru  is taking over the acting CEO role to replace Ms. Karby, current CEO, who is on a temporary medical leave, the company said in a release.

Ms. Shears said the company was "excited  to welcome" Mr. Andru.  "His finance skills and experience fill a gap that we identified within the company and are happy to have now filled," she said  in the  release.

Mr. Andru, with 18 years of senior accounting and finance roles, most recently worked with Lululemon, famed for its stretchy black yoga pants, for seven years.

Quebec puts young entrepreneurs on the map

Young Quebec entrepreneurs had a chance to shine at a gala last night . The Quebec Entrepreneurship Contest announced winners Wednesday night at the Desjardins Provincial Grand Prize Gala. The contest was divided into two categories: Business Creation and Student Entrepreneurship, and a total of 3,490 projects and 46,988 participants competed.

It was a fierce competition with so many quality entries. A few examples:

Procédé Natur+L XTD, which uses a high-pressure cold pasteurization process to preserve food, took away first place in the biofood category in the Business Creation group. Création Goéland, a residence for people who need help with social integration that also offers assessment services, took away first place in the social economy category in the same group.

Over the course of the evening, more than 42 prizes were awarded, with a total value of $230,000. The finalists already shared $319,000 in the regional finals this past May. For a full list of winners click here.

Lessons from the kids

Remember when you wanted to be a firefighter, the prime minister or a rock star? This blog post says that you should keep up that spirit, just like the kids do.

Dreaming big is just one lesson that children have to teach to entrepreneurs. Kids are great with negotiations, and even have some financial tips that are worthy of attention.  Need money for that ice cream cone and mom said no? Hit up dad. When one parent turns out empty pockets, kids shamelessly hit on the other parent. The takeaway for entrepreneurs: "When more money is needed, it's important to be able to turn to more than one funding source," writes Zanne Lamb-Hunt.


Gearing up for Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation's Global Entrepreneurship Week runs Nov. 12 to Nov. 18 this year but it's not too early to get involved. You can sign up here to become a partner and host an event, activity or contest.


Sign up for seminars in Niagara Falls. Two upcoming seminars are designed for small business owners. How to write a business plan is an interactive seminar that will cover the basics of a business plan. July 26, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. $20. Market research and advertising is a seminar that will help you create a good marketing plan to generate returns and provide long-term benefits to your business. The seminar covers marketing techniques including market research, customer service, advertising, targeting, packaging, pricing, and e-marketing. It runs June 19 and Aug. 28.


Become a master storyteller

Crafting a good story about your business is key to success, says Lisa Ostrikoff. If you've got a good story, it will spread. If it's boring? You're invisible. The way you get that story out can be text, pictures, online video and don't forget social media. For more tips on a social media business strategy check out this video.


Ever wondered how to break into the Indian market?

Marport Canada Inc. co-founder Karl Kenny has opened offices in Spain, France, Iceland and the United States, but has sights set on India. Experts weigh in on how to tackle that challenge.