President and CEO, Avana Homes
Finalist, Staples Start-Up Award, WEST
When Jennifer Denouden first started in real estate investing, she was looking to replace her income as a Private Banker so that she could spend more time with her children. Just over four years later, the Avana Group has built or acquired over $60 million worth of real estate and over 20 corporations. Avana Homes is one arm of the business, focused on building revenue producing real estate — from single family homes to multi-unit buildings, as well as commercial and industrial buildings. The company also offers high-end custom home building, and works with the provincial and federal government to produce affordable housing.
My first job ever was… as a gas jockey at the XTR in Milestone, Saskatchewan when I was 13.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to live a life that I designed, on my schedule and with the power to make a real impact.
My proudest accomplishment is… how many businesses I have been able to diversify into by capitalizing on my success in Avana. I have been able to help some really passionate, hardworking, amazing people see their entrepreneurial dreams come true by investing in them.
My boldest move to date was… leaving my Private Banking job at age 26 to start a home building and property management company, which I knew absolutely nothing about and had zero experience in.
I surprise people when I tell them… that I have four kids under the age of 5 and I am only 30.
My best advice to people starting their business is… put on your seat belt and get ready for the wildest ride of your life. Write down your goals, break it down into steps, and work harder than you ever knew you even could. If you do this day in and day out, you will see success. Be stubborn with your goals but flexible with your methods.
My best advice from a mentor was… sacrifices in your early adult years will pay off in dividends for the rest of your life.
If I could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, it would be… my grandfather, George. He was my role model and had the strongest influence of anyone else in my childhood.
“Write down your goals, break it down into steps, and work harder than you ever knew you even could.”
I would tell my 20-year old self… to keep your standards high, believe in yourself and follow your intuition.
My biggest setback was… regulatory changes. Since starting my business four years ago, there have been several mortgage rule changes, income tax changes, PST changes in my province, increasing interest rates etc. These are all beyond my control, and it takes a lot of time and money to navigate through it all.
I overcame it by… relying on my professional team of advisors, doing a significant amount of research and diversifying into different sectors.
The last book I read was… Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter.
I stay inspired by… I am truly focused on making my community and this world better than when I found it. I feel that I have built a strong network and I plan on continuing to use my network to make positive, meaningful impact.
The future excites me because… I am so excited to see what my future holds. I have several businesses that I am very passionate about, the best team of employees and business partners, and an absolutely amazing family. I have a one, two, three, and five year old and that excites me more than anything else.
My next step is… growth and diversification.