Meet Lisa Ali Learning Founder of AtlanTick Repellent Products And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Lisa Ali Learning

Founder, AtlanTick Repellent Products

Ones to Watch Award

 

Lisa’s business idea arose when her two sons were sick with Lyme disease. While focusing on the immediate care of her children, she developed safe, natural formulas to keep them from encountering future tick bites, the source of the disease. As her sons recovered, Lisa was able to devote more of herself to the development of AtlanTick, a tick safety company, determined to produce the first all-natural tick repellent registered with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

 

My first job ever was… a paper route when I was around 10 years old.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I didn’t make a conscious decision about becoming an entrepreneur – it always strongly felt like the right direction for me so I took it.

 

My proudest accomplishment is… that’s hard to narrow down, but I am proud of a few things in particular. I was able to survive and provide for myself by selling my art, even having pieces commissioned by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to represent the Metis people of the region and to represent the apology ceremony from the federal government to the survivors of abuse at residential schools in NL. I’ve run a property management business for years, but I knew very little about it when I began – I learned fast, figured things out and saw great success. I am incredibly proud of AtlanTick, the growth of our company, and the impact we are having on tick safety research, development and bite prevention. Beyond all of these things, I am proud of my children and the relationships that are integral to my daily life. 

My boldest move to date was… deciding to tackle registration of our tick repellent formula with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. This is a very complicated, drawn-out and expensive process, and as such has deterred countless small businesses from similar pursuits. In this case, my stubbornness has served me as a strength.

I surprise people when I tell them… people are often surprised by the variety of businesses I’ve run, as they all fall into such different categories. People are also surprised that I don’t have a science background, but that’s never been a problem because we’ve got a great team of scientists from Acadia University with loads of applicable expertise helping us out.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I realized the importance of and need for tick safety products, which was unfortunately made very clear when both of my sons became sick with Lyme disease as a result of tick bites.

 

“Problems tend to always work out when I remove my emotional self from the equation and look at the bigger picture.”

 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… you must truly believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. You must also ask questions and really listen to the answers. Being observant and listening are the first great tools in your entrepreneurial toolbox.

My best advice from a mentor was… my dad always told me that there is no such word as can’t. As a child, I would argue with him about that, but it has been one of my greatest lessons in life – we often create our own limitations and likewise can erase them by changing our attitude about things.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… I tend to pull myself back, mentally, from the dilemma I’m facing and try to look at things from a broader perspective. When I do that I can see that problems are often nowhere as significant as I may have first thought, which allows me to then look for and find solutions. Problems tend to always work out when I remove my emotional self from the equation and look at the bigger picture.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend even more time with my family.

I stay inspired by… I have an innate and insatiable desire to learn, to figure things out, to solve problems. I’m inspired by challenges and possibilities.

The future excites me because… I know that the work we are doing is changing peoples’ lives. We are not only finding preventative solutions to a serious and growing health threat, but we are also contributing to the scientific community, learning things about tick physiology that have not been known or proven before now. We are determined to help people avoid the often debilitating and sometimes deadly consequences of tick-borne diseases, and that is something I feel incredible about.

My next step is… when the registration process is complete, Atlantick will produce the first highly-effective, natural-ingredient, Health Canada-certified tick repellent available in Canada… and we can’t wait!

Meet Dina Kulik Founder of Kidcrew And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Dina Kulik

Founder, Kidcrew

Ones to Watch Award

 

Dr. Dina Kulik is a mother and Paediatrician in Toronto. With a focus on superior patient outcomes and education, Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio, and print media and via her thriving blog, DrDina.ca. She is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids’ health. 

 

My first job ever was… I worked at Second Cup in high school. I loved serving tea and coffee and the chill environment that was created. The quiet times allowed me to study (such a nerd!)

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… when I see product or services that don’t exist, but I think should, I am compelled to make it happen.

My proudest accomplishment is… raising four thoughtful, kind, and sweet sons. I am proudest when I see them being a kind friend or being supportive brothers to one other.

My boldest move to date was… taking out a loan and building Kidcrew. The risk was my own, but it has paid back in spades. When I see families walk in and see how fun, bright and comfortable Kidcrew is, and seeing the kids playing happily and eagerly attending their appointments, it is certainly worth it!

I surprise people when I tell them… I am the mom of four young sons. I also run ½ and full marathons.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I noticed a void in the market for fun, comfortable and entertaining medical clinics. I knew families and practitioners alike would love a clinic providing every service for kids all under one roof. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… follow your sense of urgency. Too many would-be entrepreneurs wait and debate and run pro and con lists endlessly. If you have an idea and a way to make it happen, and the fire is under you, just jump in. It’ll never feel like the best time. You will always have doubts. But if you don’t jump, you’ll constantly second guess yourself

 

“Follow your sense of urgency.”

 

My best advice from a mentor was… trust your gut.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… ‘Look how happy those kids and families are. Look how much you have reinvented how child health care is provided’. I could never go back.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… run farther each morning. 

I stay inspired by… hanging out with kids! Children are the most inspiring people. Children are optimistic, happy and eager for every adventure. A ride on the subway, a special moment with a loved one, a new friend; kids are full of excitement for change. More adults should live with this type of gusto in life. Chatting with a young child about what excites them always brings a smile to my face and inspires me to make their day even better.  

The future excites me because… they are so many possibilities! There are so many ways to make kids healthier, happier and improve their lives. Too few products and services exist for children and families that are created by a physician AND mom, and I hope to change the landscape. 

My next step is… so much is in store for me and my businesses! Additional Kidcrew locations are in the works, as is a skincare brand for children and families and a line of healthy, but tasty, kids snack food and drinks. I will also be launching a sleep program for tired parents in 2019. I have only just begun my entrepreneurial journey and can’t wait to see what the future brings!

 

Meet Melissa Kargiannakis Founder of Skritswap And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Melissa Kargiannakis

Founder, Skritswap

Ones to Watch Award

 

Melissa Kargiannakis is the founder and CEO of Skritswap: a Silicon Valley venture capital-funded AI start-up that swaps complex jargon into plain, easy-to-understand language. Imagine a mortgage at a grade six reading level. In just nine months full-time at Skritswap, Melissa led the team to win the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies in Canada from the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

 

My first job ever was…Waitress and Lifeguard in Sault Ste. Marie.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… this is a product that the world simply needs. A colleague at MaRS Discovery District challenged me to consider: “Why not me? Who gives me permission?”My proudest accomplishment is… winning an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2015. 

My boldest move to date was… closing my whole pre-seed fundraising round in only 4 hours!

I surprise people when I tell them… I can sing opera.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… the XPRIZE for Adult Literacy came out in 2015, validating just how extensive this problem is. I was incorporated within a month of seeing the competition. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… take one step every single day to move your business forward, especially if you are just starting out and perhaps even still working a day job; just one thing, every day.

 

“Take one step every single day to move your business forward.”

 

My best advice from a mentor was… don’t say too much all at once. Share one bit of information at a time, they will ask for more if they are curious.  

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… first, I have a good cry to let it out. Then I write in my notebook specifically for journaling my feelings about the company. Next, I call an advisor/mentor and friend to help remind me of the good times and why I’m doing this. After all that, then I tell myself that this challenge is completely surmountable and I can figure it out. When it gets really tough usually stepping away from work for at least a weekend or even a full vacation really helps me reset.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… probably just do more work. I already make sure I exercise, journal, meditate, and eat my healthy meals daily. It’s all about prioritizing your time, there’s no such thing as too busy. 

I stay inspired by… living in gratitude for how far I’ve come. And looking forward at all the possibilities on the horizon.

The future excites me because… I am creating the life I’ve always dreamed of that positively impacts others using tech to increase equity.

My next step is… showing people how we can simplify their information: if you work in the financial industry at a bank or insurance company and want to see the results – call me. I am also raising a Seed round this fall – call me if you want in.

Meet Benveet Gill Founder of ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Benveet Gill

Founder, ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre

Ones to Watch Award

 

Benveet has over 10 years of experience as an X-ray technologist specializing in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Her life was changed forever when she was paralyzed from the waist down and diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in July 2012. After years of hard work with her trainer, Nancy, she has regained a lot of her strength and mobility. She co-founded a ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre, offering neuro recovery through intense activity-based training programs.

 

My first job ever was… Health Care Attendant / Nurse’s Aide.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… my city was lacking in neuro-rehab options and the universe showed me that this was my path, THIS is why I was paralyzed. 

My proudest accomplishment is… opening ReYu. The awards I’ve won are amazing and I’m extremely proud of those but giving someone the opportunity to stand and walk again is incomparable. Having my clients tell me that they put their hair in a ponytail or were able to get back into their wheelchair after falling out or seeing a little kid take their first steps…these are moments that fill my heart and make me incredibly proud.

My boldest move to date was… I’ve had many bold moves in my life but the one that stands out the most was leaving my ex-husband after he beat me up for the first and last time. I have a zero-tolerance policy and I didn’t look back or give him any more chances. 

I surprise people when I tell them… my age haha most people guess that I’m 10 years younger than I am.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… my trainer at the time, now business partner got a full-time job offer in Florida. I knew I needed her more and she said she would only stay if we did something worthwhile so we pulled up our big girl pants and decided to change the game of neuro-recovery in Edmonton.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… NEVER GIVE UP! It will be hard, you will face tough times and tough decisions but believe in yourself and your goal. I also recommend having a business partner that balances you, find someone whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa. With this formula, you WILL succeed.

 

Keep your ego in check and know when to step aside and let someone else take the reigns.

 

My best advice from a mentor was… keep your ego in check and know when to step aside and let someone else take the reigns of your business. She told me “a good leader knows when their time is done and they let someone else take their ideas and business to the next level.”

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… you’re doing this for all the people with disabilities who don’t have support. You’re providing a service that is literally changing people’s lives for the better. Kids are walking because of you. Adults have confidence in themselves and are seeking opportunities to be more involved in the community. You tell everyone else to “never give up” so take your own advice and keep going!

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… play with my puppy! Since opening ReYu my quality time with him has decreased immensely, so I would take that time to cuddle him and play with him. 

I stay inspired by… the incredible stories of my clients. When they reach a milestone it gives me that extra push to keep going. When they tell me that their quality of life has improved and they are more confident my heart bursts. 

The future excites me because… there is so much potential for change in all aspects of neuro-recovery. We want to lead Canada into the future of neuro rehab. As technology improves and science proves that neuroplasticity is real, the potential is limitless. I want to change lives all over the world. I want everyone living with a disability to know that they CAN achieve more and they WILL if they never give up. 

My next step is… to continue to grow ReYu and change as many lives as possible. I will continue to motivate and inspire by sharing my story and those of my clients. We plan to change the way the medical system sees neurologic conditions, it’s not a death sentence there is always hope for recovery. I want to rid the world of the stigma surrounding people with disabilities, we are regular people too. I will continue to speak about racism and discrimination, by educating others we release the anger and hatred, therefore, decreasing it. 

Meet Melinda Rombouts Founder of Eve & Co Cannabis And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Melinda Rombouts

Founder, Eve & Co Cannabis

Ones to Watch Award

 

After a series of agriculture businesses, Melinda tried a new hand — cannabis. She made history as the first woman founder and CEO to receive her cultivation license for cannabis under the Cannabis Act. Now leading a publicly traded recreational cannabis company, Melinda continues to guide the company to great success on the national and global scale.

 

My first job ever was… during summers, I worked for an Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture as a “bug counter”, which I was teased about, but through this position, I further developed my love for agriculture, growing and plants.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… it wasn’t really a conscious decision.  When I graduated from university, I had an idea and ran with it.

My proudest accomplishment is… the Eve & Co. team – I credit them with the success of our company.

My boldest move to date was… deciding to completely shut down our previous business to retrofit the greenhouse for Cannabis production.

I surprise people when I tell them… there is only about 6% of female leadership in the Canadian Cannabis Industry – it is a very male-dominated industry. Secondly, I have had many roles in our company including the Quality Assurance Person, Master Grower, and now CEO and President and was also initially responsible for security design, GMP facility design, completed the application on my own and wrote the Standard Operating Procedures.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… we realized how few female leaders there were in the industry which led us to ask if women’s needs would be addressed.  About 94% of Canadian cannabis leaders are male. Employees of licensed holders are approximately 71% male whereas Eve has just under 70% female employees.  We believe that this is an effect of female leadership and that there needs to be a change and inclusion of females for leadership positions in all industries.  Being predominantly female at all levels (leadership, board and team members), Eve is uniquely oriented and can authentically address what women want from their Cannabis products.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… trust your instinct. 

My best advice from a mentor was… surround yourself with people who will work hard and who believe in the company – the best team members are often those with determination.

 

“Surround yourself with people who will work hard and who believe in the company.”

 

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… things work out the way they’re supposed to.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend it with my kids.

I stay inspired by… looking at the new opportunities that are constantly arising in this rapidly expanding industry and considering the exciting possibilities for Eve & Co.  We are approached on a weekly basis with new ideas for product lines, partnership opportunities and new directions. My team also inspires me with their enthusiasm, determination and faith in our company. 

The future excites me because… there are so many possibilities in the works for Eve & Co. for global expansion and our product lines. Our team has purposely oriented itself to helping our customers by offering products that allow people to achieve a better life and in developing products to improve health and wellness.  We also see the possibility of doing much more with our company and intend to help women at all levels: to lift barriers and lift women. We are out to change the world.

My next step is… to move forward as quickly as we can with global expansion and distribution in the European market.  We are also investigating the possibility of growing into additional world markets. Currently, we are developing production partnerships in multiple European countries.  Once we have the Eve product lines fully developed and distribution of our products across Canada, we hope to bring Eve’s full product lines of topicals, edibles, beverages, concentrates and extracts to the world market as the foremost female-oriented Cannabis product lines.