Six RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award winners share their story
Not only have these six entrepreneurs built their companies from the ground up, they have been successful, profitable, and innovative in their approach. We recognized these women at our 23rd annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards in Toronto, and asked them to share their story to success.
MICRO BUSINESS AWARD
WINNER: SHARON VINDERINE
PTPA Media Inc.
Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) isn’t Sharon’s first entrepreneurial venture. As an inventor of a baby product, Sharon realized the importance of having a credible product that has been reviewed (and approved) by other parents and peers, thus creating a trustworthy rating system. With no credibility at the outset, PTPA is now one of the top three most recognized seals of approval in the US, and has an impressive community of over 70,000 families and over 42,000 authentic product reviews. Sharon was even approached by Disney (who acquired her biggest competitor) to purchase remaining assets after Sharon drastically impacted their market share after three years.
DELOITTE START-UP AWARD
WINNER: DR. WENDY MCCLELLAND
Vets to Go Inc.
After Dr. Wendy returned from maternity leave, she found it difficult to organize her work schedule around her family—including her children and her pets. Realizing that other mothers were likely in a similar position, Wendy created Vets To Go—the first veterinary service in Canada offering home visits. Vets To Go began as a small start up in Calgary and has expanded to three surrounding cities, and has also extended their offerings with a new Private Surgery and Wellness Centre in Calgary.
RBC MOMENTUM AWARD
WINNER: ALLISON GRAFTON
Rockwood Custom Homes
Allison had an extensive career in the world of investment banking, and left her high profile career to follow her passion of home building and design. Allison had renovated over a dozen luxury homes in her “spare” time, and witnessed first hand the lack of business sophistication and customer care of other builders. She started Rockwood Custom Homes with a mere $5,000 investment, working strategically to build her company from single-family custom homes, to winning competitive contracts like the Villas at Aspen Heights in Calgary and on target to launch many more exciting initiatives by the end of 2015.
TPH CHARITABLE GIVING AWARD
WINNER: MARCIA NOZICK
Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS)
EMBERS (Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society) sparked from a conversation Marcia had with a resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who struggled on and off with alcoholism, mentioning a big issue with Vancouver’s disadvantaged neighbourhood: employment. Marcia started EMBERS Staffing Solutions to focus on recruiting people coming out of addiction, recovery, and prison who were clean and sober to assist them in finding a job, many who struggled to find employment due to their past. EMBERS is Canada’s only not for profit, socially responsibly staffing company, and Marcia has successfully supported hundreds of people through who are job ready and eager to get back to work.
TELUS TRAILBLAZER AWARD
WINNER: JANICE LAROCQUE
Spirit Staffing and Consulting Inc.
Janice set out to bridge the gap between corporate Alberta and Indigenous people. As a manager at an Aboriginal Employment and Career Centre, Janice was alarmed by the challenges professional Aboriginals were faced with when applying to corporate Alberta. Janice founded Spirit Staffing, an Aboriginal-Women owned employment and training agency, to solve this issue. Spirit Staffing proudly employs 65 Aboriginal contractors and has placed over 1,000 professional Aboriginals in lucrative careers across various industries. Spirit Staffing helps small to large international companies achieve their diversity hiring initiatives and recruiting top talent to assist their team.
PROFIT EXCELLENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD
WINNER: ANN KAPLAN
iFinance Canada Inc.
Coming from a family of medical doctors, Ann was well aware of the need for financing medical procedures not covered by public healthcare. Ann started iFinance Canada in 1996, providing loans to Canadians for medical, dental, veterinary, and more recently, home improvement and payday lending. Starting her company by personally knocking on doctors doors to register them for the program, Ann’s hard work paid off. Nineteen years later, iFinance Canada has processed nearly $1 billion in loan applications and 10,000 medical clinics offering iFinance’s patient financing options (under the company’s original name, Medicard).
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