2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur RBC Momentum Award Finalist: Rachel Mielke

 

Rachel Mielke

Founder and CEO, Hillberg & Berk

RBC Momentum Award, WEST

Hillberg & Berk is one of Canada’s leading high-end jewellery brands that differentiates itself through an established mission to empower women, creating beautiful jewellery not only to help women capture their unique sparkle, but also to support causes dedicated to women’s empowerment. From design to manufacturing, eighty percent of Hillberg & Berk pieces are made at their Regina headquarters, allowing hands-on quality control throughout the manufacturing process. Their line is sold through 90 retailers across Canada, The Shopping Channel, five corporately owned locations in Saskatchewan and Alberta and at hillbergandberk.com. Hillberg & Berk’s philanthropy, which focuses on women’s empowerment, gives back (at minimum) 2.5% of profits annually to charities benefiting women worldwide. To help women reach their potential, they are committed to supporting causes that educate women and girls.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Find a great mentor who you really admire. Choose the things that they really do well both personally and professionally and try to learn how they mastered those skills.

 

How can a company prepare for the challenges that come with rapid growth?

Create a culture of agility and flexibility that allows you to quickly address the challenges and changes that constantly come your way. Hire people who are great problem solvers and empower them to make the decisions needed. As you grow, you will be your company’s biggest bottle neck so you must learn how to build the next level of talent early.

 


 

Who else are we celebrating? See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Staples Start-up Award Winner: Trina Bailey

 

Trina Bailey

Owner, Veterinary Surgeon, Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd.

Winner, Staples Start-up Award

Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd. of Newfoundland and Labrador began as a referral hospital offering advanced surgical care and diagnostic imaging for companion animals in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are the only hospital in the province providing specialty services and 24 hour patient care, serving clients with sick or injured pets who needed diagnostic testing, which was not available in the province. With Bailey Veterinary Surgical, Trina set out to open a hospital for pets and pet owners in her home province who need advanced care which could not be provided by their regular veterinarians, either due to lack of training/experience or equipment. She wanted the hospital to provide compassionate, affordable and professional services for both the animals and their owners to help alleviate some of the stress from the regular veterinarians in the province. Her long term goal is to have a facility so well equipped and staffed that no pets would ever need to travel out of province again.

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

The importance of standard operating procedures and having a starting point before you open the doors. Despite 17 years of industry experience, there were still very small, yet important, processes that were not ironed out. Acknowledge the need for continuous improvement. Prepare for, but don’t focus on, mistakes. Use that energy to resolve the problems when they do arise.

 

What, if anything, are you doing differently to prepare for the next stage of success?

We have identified that we need to market ourselves to increase our community profile and relationships with referring veterinary practices. We are also investigating opportunities to attract other specialists to join our team – allowing a wider breadth of services. The goal is to increase patient numbers, allowing continuous facility improvement and addition of equipment for enhanced patient care.

 


 

See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Staples Start-up Award Finalist: Rula Sharkawi

 

Rula Sharkawi

CEO, My Little Chickpea

Staples Start-up Award, CENTRAL

On her 40th birthday in 2012, Rula Sharkawi was a mother of two young children who decided to leave her executive position in the corporate world to start My Little Chickpea Gourmet Foods, a manufacturer of premium grab-and-go ready-to-eat products, from salads to pita breads, available at various retail supermarkets and restaurants across Ontario. All of their products are nutrient-dense, nutritionist-approved, made with super-foods, taste good and are good for you, with carefully sourced ingredients to ensure all products are preservative-free, no refined sugars, and predominantly made with less than ten easy-to-recognize ingredients. Rula’s vision? To help busy people, especially women and moms, eat well.

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

I wish I knew how important it is to ask for what you want. Ask for the sale, ask industry experts for their advice, ask your employees to be part of your vision. There is an incredible freedom that comes with not being afraid to ask for what you want, especially for female entrepreneurs. Simply put, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

I have four pieces of advice that are all related to how to get through the tough parts of being a startup:

  1. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Don’t limit yourself or your vision of how amazing your company can be.
  2. Have a strong reason for doing what you are doing: your passion, “your why.”
  3. Connecting in with number one and two will excite and motivate you, and guide you through tough times.
  4. Lastly, give yourself the title of “Chief Problem Solver” because there will always be challenges in your business and you need to simply work through them in order to get to the next level.

 


 

Who else are we celebrating? See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Staples Start-up Award Finalist: Marlo Brausse

 

Marlo Brausse

Owner/President, Barre Body Studio

Staples Start-up Award, WEST

Barre Body Studio offers group fitness classes which incorporate elements of yoga, Pilates, and dance to sculpt, define, and shape your body, all while using the ballet barre. The classes give participants a new and exciting challenge by combining the best of three worlds in one fitness class. Each class is choreographed to top 40 music and delivered in a high-energy and supportive atmosphere — Barre Body Studio strives to create an environment where all levels of fitness are welcomed. In addition to drop-in fitness classes, specialty classes such Mom and baby classes, Form Workshops, Teen classes, and Prenatal fitness are offered and each location also includes a retail boutique of branded apparel, grip socks which are worn in classes, and a variety of fitness apparel.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Simon Sinek speaks in great length about the importance of knowing your ‘why’ because it you will allow you to tolerate your ‘how’. I learned this early on and am so thankful for the mentors that have helped me along the way. The road to entrepreneurship is a long one and can be lonely at times. If you already eat, sleep and breath your ‘why’ then I have no doubt that you will put in the work to master the ‘how’ which will get you there.

 

What, if anything, are you doing differently to prepare for the next stage of success?

We have spent the past year focused on building a strong reputation by offering quality services. A great deal of our world operates within a ‘bigger is better’ mentality when in fact we have seen huge success by focusing inward instead of outward. Understanding our product offering, investing in our resources and staying current in the fitness industry has pushed us forward and will continue to do so as we position ourselves for second stage growth.

 


 

Who else are we celebrating? See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Micro Business Award Winner: Geneviève Lévesque

 

Geneviève Lévesque

Owner/Founder, Artêria Gallery

Winner, Micro Business Award

Artêria Gallery was founded independently in Quebec in 2007 by Geneviève Lévesque. Since that time, the gallery has grown to five full-time employees who manage over forty professional artists from Canada, the United States, and Europe. The gallery also houses a boutique and art supply store. Geneviève and her collaborators, including her partner, artist and curator Christian Dorey, take as their mandate simply “to create employment for artists.” Geneviève’s interest in supporting artists was at first personal. Having begun her professional life in the creative fields of fashion and film, she found herself perpetually surrounded by artists, including her eventual life partner. She was struck by the frequent inability of talented artists to promote their own work. So, she decided to start planning modest events in cafes and shared exhibition spaces in her free time. Her initiative started out as fun, as a way of helping her friends, but eventually she began to forge connections among artists and clients, and the artists under her care began to generate income from her work.

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

I wasn’t prepared for the realization that managing growth is much more difficult than starting a new project. Starting a new company is of course hard work — there is a tremendous amount of risk involved, and you can feel dwarfed by all that you need to learn — and it’s also fun and exhilarating. You can afford to be bold, because the consequences of your mistakes don’t necessarily affect anyone besides you. It’s gratifying to watch the company grow each year, and yet that growth creates complexity that can be confusing to navigate. It requires discipline to remain committed to honing the structure while responding to the increase in daily tasks. The needs of a successful business change constantly; it can be tricky to remain attuned to that.

 

What made you decide to launch your business?

I began my career by responding to a need in my community: I knew a lot of artists, and it was clear that they needed help promoting their work. I worked on a voluntary basis; I didn’t initially have the idea of starting a business. My “side project” began to demand so much of my time that it was difficult to balance with my paying job, and it brought me so much more pleasure and satisfaction. By the time I realized, “Oh, I can do this,” the pivot to representing artists full time wasn’t so drastic. By the time I incorporated, I had already gained enough experience and support to get started with a fair bit of confidence. Now my days are filled by what I’m passionate about. It was the best decision of my life!

 


 

See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Micro Business Award Finalist: Kalpana Kundra

 

Kalpana Kundra

Founder & CEO, UNSTICK by DAUGHKUN

Micro Business Award, CENTRAL

UNSTICK is a line of reusable non-stick cooking sheets and liners that was launched three years ago to deliver on the unmet consumer need of helping health-conscious, yet time-starved moms save time cleaning up after meals. Daughkun developed and launched seven products in total, six of which are for cooking. The line is also environmentally and socially responsible; all UNSTICK products are made with premium Japanese materials and are non-toxic. Products are currently available at retail store locations and on-line.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

You WILL make mistakes. In fact, you’ll make lots of them. Embrace your mistakes. Learn from them, but then move on. The mistakes that you make will teach you valuable lessons that will pave the way for your success.

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

I wish I knew how difficult it would be to sell a product into retail. Developing a product line is one thing, but selling into retailers is another. You are faced with constant rejection, until you meet that one retailer that gives you a chance. You have to hold out for that retailer, and not give up too early.

 


 

Who else are we celebrating? See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Micro Business Award Finalist: Angel Guerra and Angela Dione

 

Angel Guerra and Angela Dione

Co-founders, Market Collective

Micro Business Award, WEST

What began as a vision to promote local arts and culture in 2008 has now evolved into a platform that engages, empowers, and creates opportunities for the creative community in Alberta. Market Collective has gained momentum as an inclusive collective that showcases the work and creations of thousands of local artists, artisans, designers, musicians and food vendors. Co-founded by Angel Guerra and Angela Dione, Market Collective encourages local purchasing and a consciousness towards the local economy. Market Collective offers off-site workshops that educate the community and provide an additional outlet for the artist, encouraging artists to stay and grow an Alberta-born brand, developing a cultural identity that is unique to anywhere else in Canada.

 

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

Angel – Market Collective was founded on passion, a desire to positively affect the community, and a dream. I wouldn’t change any of this, however, looking back I wish that I had more knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting when we were first beginning the business. It was something that we learned through trial and error. When I give advice to young entrepreneurs, I always tell them to be vigilant with their bookkeeping from the very beginning.

Angela – There have been many lessons I have learned along the way, but at the beginning, I wish I fully understood the importance of keeping the stressful side of business out of your home. It is easy to get caught up in the incredible workload and sacrifice, and you can lose sight of the people around you. I have learned to set boundaries and always strive to maintain a balance of work and relationships. These were invaluable lessons for my life, and I carry them with me always.

 

What made you decide to launch your business?

Angel – When we began Market Collective, I honestly didn’t know that I was launching a business. It was an idea that I wanted to see brought to life, but in the early stages of MC, I didn’t realize how far we would be able to take it. Now, almost a decade later I would consider myself an entrepreneur and a business owner, but at the launch of MC I was simply a wide-eyed lady following my heart and desire to see my community connecting through the arts.

Angela – At the beginning of Market Collective, I had just returned from Italy where I was training to become a shoemaker. I had a small studio, and was selling some work in stores that kept 50% or more of my commission. It just wasn’t a sustainable model for an emerging creative. I saw the need for artists to have a vibrant space to sell their work and keep 100% of their commission and sales. To me, it was a way to create opportunity and sustainability for the creative community. It was important for me to become a resource to help other artists and makers succeed. 

 


 

Who else are we celebrating? See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.

 

 

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The 25th Annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala

Join us for the 25th Annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards!

The annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala on November 22nd at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto is the premier event of the year, where nominees, applicants, finalists, judges and guests have the opportunity to celebrate Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards in style. 

After an elegant cocktail reception spent mingling with celebrity guests, dignitaries and past award winners, guests will move into the grand ballroom for a three course dinner, entertainment and the official Awards Show where the winners of six award categories will be announced live.

This red-carpet event provides guests the opportunity to celebrate the award Finalists and Winners, meet and enjoy the company of incredible men and women in Canadian business, and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit shared by women across the country.

We look forward to you joining us! Purchase your ticket today.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

LES FINALISTES DES PRIX CANADIENS DE L’ENTREPRENEURIAT FÉMININ RBC 2017 ONT ÉTÉ ANNONCÉES AUJOURD’HUI

 

 

 

TORONTO – Femmes d’influence a annoncé aujourd’hui les finalistes des Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC 2017.  Cette année, les candidatures de 6 400 entrepreneures d’un océan à l’autre ont été présentées – un nombre record – et 18 finalistes ont été retenues. Ces femmes d’exception ont été choisies pour leurs réalisations dans des secteurs des plus divers, dont ceux de la finance, des technologies, de la construction, de l’hospitalité et de la santé.

Les lauréates seront annoncées et honorées lors du 25e gala annuel de remise des prix, animé par Diane Francis, envoyée spéciale du Financial Post. Le gala aura lieu le mercredi 22 novembre 2017, à l’hôtel Fairmont Royal York, à Toronto.

Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC rendent hommage à des femmes propriétaires d’entreprise de partout au Canada qui contribuent de façon importante et remarquable à la vitalité des économies locale, canadienne ou mondiale. Les candidates sont des visionnaires du secteur des affaires, et font preuve d’une détermination à toute épreuve afin de concrétiser leurs rêves. Les prix sont accordés à des femmes d’affaires des trois grandes régions du Canada : l’Est, le Centre et l’Ouest.

La portée des Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC est vaste. Au cours des 25 années du programme, RBC et Femmes d’influence ont vu 75 000 femmes proposées, 450 finalistes sélectionnées et ont décerné 75 femmes entrepreneures exceptionnelles avec cet honneur prestigieux.

« RBC est fière de présenter les réalisations de ces entrepreneurs extraordinaires, a déclaré Greg Grice, vice-président directeur, Services financiers à l’entreprise, RBC. Grâce à leur passion, à leur leadership et à leur dévouement envers l’excellence, chacun est une source d’inspiration et de motivation pour tous ceux qui aspirent à transformer leurs ambitions d’affaires en réalité. »

Les candidates doivent présenter un dossier de candidature étoffé. Les candidatures sont ensuite évaluées par un jury composé de chefs d’entreprise réputés, et sont soumises à un contrôle diligent réalisé par Deloitte Sociétés privées.

 

Voici les finalistes des Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC 2017 :

 

Prix Micro-Entreprise

Ouest : Angel Guerra and Angela Dione, Market Collective

Centre : Kalpana Kundra, Unstick by Daughkun

Est : Geneviève Lévesque, Arteria Gallery

 

Prix Nouvelle entreprise Staples

Ouest : Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio

Centre : Rula Sharkawi, My Little Chickpea

Est : Trina Bailey, Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd.

 

Prix Dynamisme RBC

Ouest : Rachel Mielke, Hillberg & Berk

Centre : Mandy Rennehan, Freshco

Est : Kara Angus, Go Go Group Inc.

 

Prix Évolution sociale

Ouest : Glori Meldrum, Little Warriors

Centre : Melissa Sariffodeen, Ladies Learning Code

Est : Cathy Deagle-Gammon, Dartmouth Adult Services Centre DASC

 

Prix Pionnière TELUS

Ouest : Claudia Sjoberg, The Pedalheads Group

Centre : Sharifa Khan, Balmoral Marketing Inc.

Est : Natalie Voland, Gestion Immobilière Quo Vadis/Complexe Dompark

 

Prix TEC Canada d’excellence entrepreneuriale

Ouest : Allison Grafton, Rockwood Custom Homes

Centre : Janet Zuccarini, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group

Est : Christiane Germain, Groupe Germain Hôtels

 

Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC 2017 sont présentés par RBC et commandités par Staples, RBC, TELUS, TEC Canada et notre partenaire officiel d’audit interne, Deloitte.

« Femmes d’influence sont ravies de célébrer ces prestigieux prix. En tant que communauté, les femmes entrepreneures féminines représentent une force économique d’une puissance impressionnante et leur impact augmente », a déclaré Alicia Skalin, co-PDG, Femmes d’influence. « Au cours de l’histoire du programme, nous avons été honorés de contribuer à leur réussite future en reconnaissant les réalisations de ce groupe remarquable, non seulement offrant une exposition accrue et une nouvelle source de crédibilité, mais l’opportunité de devenir un modèle incontournable pour les chefs de file de demain.»

 

Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC

Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC, les prix les plus prestigieux à l’échelle nationale, rendent hommage aux entrepreneures canadiennes d’exception. Ils sont décernés par Femmes d’influence, un organisme primé voué à l’avancement des femmes dans le monde.

 

À propos de Femmes d’influence

Femmes d’influence, qui en est à sa 23e année d’existence, est l’un des plus importants organismes nord-américains à offrir des solutions visant l’avancement professionnel des femmes. Grâce à ses cours de leadership pour cadres, ses événements mondiaux et son contenu imprimé et numérique, Femmes d’influence rejoint chaque année plus de 200 000 professionnels, femmes et hommes, au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde. Les déjeuners-causeries « Femmes d’influence » et les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC comptent parmi ses événements-vedettes. Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site www.womenofinfluence.com.

 

Pour demander une entrevue ou obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec :

Amanda Kruzich, Women of Influence, 416 456 8633, akruzich@womenofinfluence.ca

Rob Merk, Communications, RBC, 416 955-6665, rob.merk@rbc.com


 

Press Release — 2017 RBC CANADIAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR AWARD FINALISTS ANNOUNCED TODAY

 

 

TORONTO – Women of Influence today announced the finalists of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards program.  A record breaking 6,400 women entrepreneurs from coast to coast were nominated for this year’s awards, and 18 finalists have now been selected. These exceptional women were chosen for their accomplishments in industries as diverse as finance, technology, construction, hospitality and health services.

The winners will be announced and celebrated at the 25th Annual Awards Gala, hosted by Diane Francis, editor-at-large for the Financial Post on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards recognizes female business owners from across Canada who make impressive and substantial contributions to the local, Canadian or global economy. Candidates share a strong entrepreneurial vision and a relentless passion in pursing their dreams. These awards recognize business women from three major regions across Canada: East, Central and West.

The scope of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is vast. Over the 25 years of the program, RBC and Women of Influence have seen an impressive 75,000 women nominated, 450 finalists selected and have awarded 75 exceptional women entrepreneurs with this prestigious honour.

“RBC is proud to profile the achievements of these extraordinary entrepreneurs” said Greg Grice, Executive Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “With their incredible passion, leadership and dedication to business excellence, each plays an important role in inspiring and empowering others looking to turn business ambition into reality.”

All nominees are required to submit through applications, which are reviewed and judged by a panel of prominent business leaders and subject to a due diligence performed by Deloitte Private Client Services.

 

The 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Finalists are:

 

Micro Business Award

West:  Angel Guerra and Angela Dione, Market Collective

Central: Kalpana Kundra, Unstick by Daughkun

East: Geneviève Lévesque, Arteria Gallery

 

Staples Start-Up Award

West: Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio

Central: Rula Sharkawi, My Little Chickpea

East: Trina Bailey, Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd.

 

RBC Momentum Award

West: Rachel Mielke, Hillberg & Berk

Central: Mandy Rennehan, Freshco

East: Kara Angus, Go Go Group Inc.

 

Social Change Award

West: Glori Meldrum, Little Warriors

Central: Melissa Sariffodeen, Ladies Learning Code

East: Cathy Deagle-Gammon, Dartmouth Adult Services Centre DASC

 

TELUS Trailblazer Award

West: Claudia Sjoberg, The Pedalheads Group

Central: Sharifa Khan, Balmoral Marketing Inc.

East: Natalie Voland, Gestion Immobilière Quo Vadis/Complexe Dompark

 

TEC Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship

West: Allison Grafton, Rockwood Custom Homes

Central: Janet Zuccarini, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group

East: Christiane Germain, Groupe Germain Hôtels

 

The 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are presented by RBC. Award sponsors include Staples, RBC, TELUS, TEC Canada and our official Due Diligence partner, Deloitte.

“Women of Influence is thrilled to be celebrating 25 years of these prestigious awards. As a community, Canadian female entrepreneurs represent a powerful economic force is that is truly impressive and their impact is growing,” said Alicia Skalin, Co-CEO, Women of Influence Worldwide Inc. “Over the history of the program, we have been honoured to contribute to their future success by recognizing the achievements of this remarkable group, not only offering increased exposure and a new source of credibility, but the opportunity to become an inspiring role model for future leaders.”

 

About the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are the pre-eminent national business awards recognizing the country’s leading female entrepreneurs. The awards are an initiative of Women of Influence, an award-winning organization dedicated to advancing women globally.

 

About Women of Influence Worldwide Inc.

Women of Influence, now in its 23rd year, is one of North America’s leading organization offering solutions to further women’s career advancement. With courses in executive leadership, global events, and print and digital content, Women of Influence annually reaches over 200,000 professional women and men across Canada and internationally. Signature events include the Women of Influence Luncheon Series and the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. For more information, please visit www.womenofinfluence.com

 

For interview requests or further information please contact:

Amanda Kruzich, Women of Influence, 416 456 8633, akruzich@womenofinfluence.ca

Rob Merk, Corporate Communications, RBC, 416-955-6665, rob.merk@rbc.com

 

 

 

Five Minutes With Kathy Gregory, Winner Of The 2016 Award For Excellence In Entrepreneurship

Kathy Gregory, Founding President & CEO
Paradigm Quest Inc.
Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship

 

 

About Her Business

Founded by Gregory after being let go from her position in the world of finance, Paradigm Quest Inc. is the fastest growing mortgage company in Canada, providing a one-stop solution from origination to providing cost effective back office mortgage solutions to lenders, which enables them to proactively respond to market conditions, lead the market in innovation, and ultimately provide the mortgage consumer with greater choice and an unparalleled mortgage experience. Paradigm is recognized by major Canadian financial institutions as a leading BPO in the financial services sector and has signed major outsourcing contracts with Canadian chartered banks.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

“It’s been a tremendous experience. Not only the amazing and inspiring women I met at the Award Gala, and learning about their success stories, but the amazing women who have subsequently reached out. I’m thrilled to say, I’m mentoring one of them on her journey now and another that I hope to bring on board to my organization in a leadership role. Not to mention the tremendous acknowledgement from our key clients! All in all, what a truly amazing life experience the CEA was for me.”

 

If you were in a room full of entrepreneurs, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Have courage and go for it. Surround yourself with people who have complementary skill sets, and listen to their input. The way I see it is that I don’t want to have any regrets, and often will rely on my courage to implement new strategies. Failure is when you don’t try, expect to make mistakes and own up to them.”

 

How have you overcome your biggest obstacle and how did it lead to success?

“We faced the biggest obstacle when the credit crisis occurred. The long-term plans we had laid out needed quick revision. After many iterations of what we thought was the final plan, another regulatory change occurred and the plan had to change again. What we became really good at is adapting to change, rounding up all leadership to the table; our “code red” meetings and problem solving, while providing solutions quickly. I believe I have the best problem solving leadership team in the industry, supported by our culture of pure transparency; no ego allowed and where everyone takes ownership of the issue and the resolution.”

 

About the Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship

Through timely innovation, strategic thinking and smart execution, the recipient of this award has built and managed one or more successful businesses over a period of 10 years. With a proven track record of growth, profitability, and industry leadership, this entrepreneur’s exploits have generated an uncommon degree of economic growth, and she has shown to possess the drive, managerial acumen and leadership traits that others aspire to have.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2017 NOMINEES! THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION IS JUNE 19th.

 

 

 

Other Awards

Micro Business Award: This entrepreneur owns a small business that generates annual revenues under $1 million.

Telus Trailblazer Award: The recipient of this award is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way.

Staples Start-Up Award: This award celebrates the achievements of an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years, has developed her business into one that’s ready for the next level of growth.

RBC Momentum Award: This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. 

Social Change Award: Awarding an exceptional leader of a registered charity or not-for-profit that is dedicated to social change. Applicants have garnered extraordinary support from the community by being champions for philanthropy and volunteerism in Canada.

Five Minutes With Jennifer Flanagan, Winner Of The 2016 Social Change Award

Jennifer Flanagan, President & CEO
Actua
Social Change Award

 

 

About Her Business

Actua (www.actua.ca) is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education outreach organization engaging 250,000 youth each year in transformational experiences that help them achieve their potential. Actua’s delivery model includes a network of 34 university and college based STEM outreach organizations and its own outreach team, together delivering programming in 500 communities across every province and territory. Actua’s focus at the national level is on engaging Canada’s most underserved youth populations with the most innovative content in order to contribute to the diversity that is needed to drive social and economic innovation in Canada.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

“I was so incredibly honored to have been named one of the RBC Women Entrepreneur award winners in 2016 in the category of social change. The level of national recognition that this provided for the work of Actua, my organization, was significant. Being recognized along-side some of the most successful women entrepreneurs in Canada speaks to the importance of social change work and the contribution charities like Actua are making to the social and economic prosperity of the country. This award provides even more credibility and profile to important contributions women are making in all fields of business and for me personally it was incredibly inspiring to be recognized in this way.”

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

“That things that seemed HUGE are often not that big of a deal after a short period of time. Standing still sometimes when things are unclear is often a fantastic and effective approach. As someone who likes things solved immediately, I have had to learn that time often solves things for you.”

 

If you were in a room full of entrepreneurs, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Have high expectations of what you can achieve but if you fail or stumble, just get up and move on quickly. Learn from failure by pivoting and trying something else.”

 

About the Social Change Award

Awarding an exceptional leader of a registered charity or not-for-profit that is dedicated to social change. Applicants have garnered extraordinary support from the community by being champions for philanthropy and volunteerism in Canada.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2017 NOMINEES! THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION IS JUNE 19th.

 

 

 

Other Awards

Micro Business Award: This entrepreneur owns a small business that generates annual revenues under $1 million.

Telus Trailblazer Award: The recipient of this award is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way.

Staples Start-Up Award: This award celebrates the achievements of an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years, has developed her business into one that’s ready for the next level of growth.

RBC Momentum Award: This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. 

TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship: This entrepreneur has launched and built one or more successful companies with a track record of growth and profitability over a period of at least 10 years.

Five Minutes With Angela Marotta & Melissa Paolicelli, 2016 Start-up Award Winners

Angela Marotta, CEO & Melissa Paolicelli, General Manager
Two Sisters Vineyard
Start-Up Award

 

 

About Their Business

Two Sisters Vineyards, owned by sisters Angela Marotta and Melissa Paolicelli, is a private, family-owned corporation with a purpose to offer a full service prestige destination winery with on-site tasting and retail, restaurant, corporate facilities and offices located in a desirable area of Niagara wine country. It operates from a 76-acre estate in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake. From the start, the vision was to craft Ontario ultra premium VQA wines comparable to international benchmarks.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

 

“The nomination in itself was an honour. The category“start up”, that in itself is representative of all those women who have taken the leap and level of risk to start a business from the ground up. The level of risk that all nominees have taken include monetary risk, emotional risk and most of all the time taken away from our loved ones to set the foundation for a business that you envision to be successful and have longevity. Winning in this category gave us the confidence and reassurance that we have started with the right business plan and vision. That we have tapped into our market the right way and we are producing wines that are highly respected and well regarding as our wines have almost all garnered international and national awards and have scored almost all above 90.”

 

What have you learned from your years in business?

“What we have learned is that no matter how the economics changes, we will not compromise on the quality or vision we have for our brand. We would look towards reassessing the costs related to the operation than sacrifice on the costs required to continue to produce exceptional wines and service for our patrons and customers. We’ve also reaffirmed how important it is for business leaders and proprietors of any business to understand every aspect of the operation. In our case it is understanding farming, processing of grapes and wine-making, retail and merchandising (including product placement), overall customer service and customer experience and employee standards. As proprietors, we have the responsibility to lead by example and set the foundation now for a well- run and managed business. We are establishing that magic formula that will be followed by generations to come.”

 

If you were in a room full of entrepreneurs, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Melissa – “Regardless if the market sways due to various economic factors, never sacrifice the quality or the standards of your product. Evaluate other areas of the operation before you cut costs on production standards.”

Angela – “Take it slow. As women and mothers, we cannot do everything well all the time, you are a better decision maker when working from a clear focused mind than a foggy confused mind.”

 

About the Staples Start-Up Award

This award celebrates the achievements of an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years, has developed her business into one that’s ready for the next level of growth. The recipient has been successful in building a profitable business since its inception, and can share a comprehensive and sustainable business plan.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2017 NOMINEES! THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION IS JUNE 19th.

 

 

 

Other Awards

Micro Business Award: This entrepreneur owns a small business that generates annual revenues under $1 million.

Telus Trailblazer Award: The recipient of this award is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way.

Social Change Award: This entrepreneur is an exceptional leader of a non-profit or charitable organization dedicated to helping others.

RBC Momentum Award: This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. 

TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship: This entrepreneur has launched and built one or more successful companies with a track record of growth and profitability over a period of at least 10 years.

Five Minutes with Eva Sun, Winner of the 2016 TELUS Trailblazer Award

Eva Sun, President
The Rice People
Telus Trailblazer Award

 

 

About Her Business

Food processors aren’t generally associated with being leading edge trailblazers – but Eva Sun’s company (www.ricepeople.com) is different. With a motto of Respect, Integrity, Care and Share, The Rice People’s commitment to their customers, partners, and global community.  Rice is a common staple that most people take so easily for granted, but rice is actually a much varied resource with much room for quality enrichment, especially in Canada. From farm to fork, it is Sun’s passion to make rice with accountable and consistent quality. They carefully source globally for the most reliable quality, eco-friendly raw material from eight countries.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

 

“The award has raised my personal and my company profile. But more importantly, it has provided me a precious opportunity to share with and to inspire others with my deep passions. To me, owning a business is about much more than generating profit. It is a platform to inspire others about my deep passions. Generating profit adds value to my bank account, but inspiring others adds value to my life.”

 

What advice would you give to another business-woman facing uncertainty about her own trailblazing idea?

 

“Since you are trail blazing to explore new ideas, you can’t rely on others experience and guidance. When exploring, finding out what does not work is as valuable, if not more, than finding out what works.”

 

About the Telus Trailblazer Award

The recipient of this award is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership within her company and her market and she has set standards for originality, quality and successful management.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2017 NOMINEES! THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION IS JUNE 19th.

 

 

 

Other Awards

Micro Business Award: This entrepreneur owns a small business that generates annual revenues under $1 million.

Staples Start-up Award: For an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and maximum of five years, has prepped her company for the next level of growth.

Social Change Award: This entrepreneur is an exceptional leader of a non-profit or charitable organization dedicated to helping others.

RBC Momentum Award: This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. 

TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship: This entrepreneur has launched and built one or more successful companies with a track record of growth and profitability over a period of at least 10 years.

Five Minutes With Isabelle And Marie-helene Primeau, Winners Of The 2016 Micro-business Award

Isabelle & Marie-Hélène Primeau, President & Executive Vice-President
Premier Continuum Inc. (PCI)
Micro-Business Award

 

 

About Their Business

Premier Continuum Inc. (www.premiercontinuum.com) specializes in the field of Resilience, Business Continuity, Emergency Management, IT Disaster Recovery and Integrated Risk Management. Isabelle and Marie-Hélène offer the cloud based specialized software in addition to consulting and training services to help prevent, prepare, respond and recover to any type of consequences that could deeply affect a business of any size, such as loss of premises, loss of IT, loss of key personnel / abnormal absenteeism and supply chain disruptions.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

 

“The Micro-Business award will remain a milestone in the history of our firm and has inspired all of us at Premier Continuum. It has definitely put the spotlight on our offer of Business Continuity Services and web solutions. For this and much more, we are very grateful and proud to have been among the winners in the 2016 RBC Women of Influence contest.”

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

 

“We wish we had known that even as experts in risk management and business continuity, we had to learn how to take risks in business. While being conservative has provided stability and longevity, we should have taken more risks in the business, in particular in order to bring our software faster to the market.”

 

What did you learn in your first year of business?

 

 “We learned that, while delivering quality products and services, we did not always need to be perfect and in some areas “good is good enough”, thus focusing our efforts where there was value creation. We learned the importance of creating a team of talented people who share our values of excellence, of trust and of honesty. We learned how important it is to know our business inside-out and the value of marketing ourselves and our business. Most importantly we learned to believe in ourselves and in our contribution to society.”

 

About the Micro-Business Award

This award honors entrepreneurs who own and operate small businesses that generate annual revenues of under $1 million. The applicant’s business is in any industry, at any stage and in any region, and must demonstrate a successful growth rate on the micro level.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2017 NOMINEES! THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION IS JUNE 19th.

 

 

 

Other Awards

Telus Trailblazer Award: The recipient of this award is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way.

Staples Start-up Award: For an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and maximum of five years, has prepped her company for the next level of growth.

Social Change Award: This entrepreneur is an exceptional leader of a non-profit or charitable organization dedicated to helping others.

RBC Momentum Award: This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. 

TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship: This entrepreneur has launched and built one or more successful companies with a track record of growth and profitability over a period of at least 10 years.

How to create an award-winning RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards application

With the nomination period for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards closed, it’s time to begin putting together a winning application. Official Due Diligence Sponsor, Deloitte Private, offers the top items to consider for this crucial next step.

 

 

By Marie Moore

 


 

In Canada, just 15.7% of entrepreneurial businesses are majority-owned by women. Fortunately, the number is increasing. Self-employment among women has been steadily rising, even though self-employment overall has been relatively flat since 2009.

 

Why is this segment so important? Women entrepreneurs are contributing fresh ideas, capitalizing on new opportunities, and creating jobs in their own community ― and beyond. The continued success of female-led businesses is crucial to economic growth in this country. They need to be supported in their ambitions, and celebrated and appreciated for their accomplishments.  

 

The aim of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is to provide this much-deserved recognition. As official Due Diligence Sponsor, Deloitte Private has had the privilege of being an integral part of the RBC CWEA program for several years. Each year, we are introduced to a new set of unique businesses and their high-quality offerings. With the required minimum of three years in operation, they all have a proven sustainable model ― one that comes from a history of designing and implementing effective solutions. They exemplify what female entrepreneurs are capable of.    

 

With such an impressive group, what can make your organization stand out? Here are the top four items to consider when filling out your application.

 

 

  1. Surround yourself with a winning team.

This is not a process you need to complete alone. Tap into your talented employees who understand your business, and don’t be afraid to seek outside help. By involving others in the application process, you’ll be able to get a broader perspective. What seems normal to you might pop out as really outstanding to someone else ― and worth emphasizing. “This is one of the key insights we have drawn from our experience,” says Lorrie King, the Deloitte national co-lead for Best Managed companies program. Deloitte, Canada’s largest professional services firm, established this platform for recognizing excellence in private, Canadian-owned companies in 1993. The Best Managed program includes valuable coaching from experienced professionals of Deloitte and CIBC that help applicants take a step back and look at their business through a new lens.

 

  1. Focus on your accomplishments.

While it’s both exciting and important to think about your future growth opportunities, these awards are designed to recognize your accomplishments, not your aspirations. The application should therefore be largely focused on what you have done, not what you are planning to do. The adage “show, don’t tell” applies here as well. For each achievement you want to highlight, from a growth in sales to reaching profitability, ensure you have quantifiable evidence that backs it up.

 

  1. Get your books in order.

A solid application begins with up-to-date, organized financials. Be sure you understand your numbers well enough ― or have someone on your winning team who does ― to be able to demonstrate how well your business is doing. Providing tangible evidence of your success through your financials is key to moving to the Finalist stage.

 

  1. Be ready for the next step.

When we engage in the due diligence process with each finalist, our main purpose is to validate the information that has been provided in the application ― but it’s not as simple as checking your numbers. An in-person meeting with your assigned Deloitte Private practitioner is critical, because it gives you the opportunity to speak to the success of your business beyond the balance sheet. Be ready to discuss your business successes, such as how you have applied creativity or innovation in solving problems and overcoming challenges. The goal is not to oversell your business or offering, but rather speak to your strengths, focus on what you do best, and ― most importantly ― always be able to provide tangible evidence.

 

 

For more than 150 years, Deloitte Private has been assisting entrepreneurs in transforming Canada’s economy. We know that the journey to success requires strategic decision making and being opportunistic at the right moment. As Canada’s largest professional services advisor to private clients, we are passionate and committed to your future success — always looking ahead to anticipate your needs and prepare you for any unforeseen challenges ahead.  

 


Five minutes with Kate Ross LeBlanc, Winner of the 2016 RBC Momentum Award

Kate Ross LeBlanc, Co-Founder and CEO
Saje Natural Wellness
RBC Momentum Award Winner

 

 

About Her Business

Saje Natural Wellness was born when Kate decided to combine her passion for retail with her mission to alleviate the chronic pain symptoms experienced by her husband. She’s now inspiring global wellness with over 50 stores throughout Canada and the United States, offering 100%-natural products that help the body detoxify and recover from the elements’ harmful effects. The Saje mission is to connect people with the healing power of plants, through living, sharing and inspiring holistic wellness daily.

 

What does winning this award mean to you?

 

“It’s so important for us as women to support one another, to rally behind each other, and to cheer our fellow females on. I am still so humbled and honoured to have received this award. For me, the most impactful takeaway was having the award serve as a reminder to pause more often, and take a moment to celebrate and be proud of our accomplishments. As entrepreneurs, it’s in our bones to create and move forward, and sometimes we move so quickly onto the next challenge, the next endeavor, the next idea – that we don’t take the time to celebrate our accomplishments, which can help fuel us even further. Moments like these allow us to come together, be among incredible women, and to truly share in each other’s successes now and into the future. I’ll always be grateful for this experience.”

 

What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

 

“That it’s okay to be a leader. Growing up in a small town, I had a few painful experiences early on around standing out too much, and in many ways I resisted my own growth into leadership. I wish I had known earlier that it could be so incredibly rewarding – that “boss” and “bossy” are not the same thing.” 

 

What do you think is the key to positioning your business for continued success and future growth?

 

“100% it is the people.  Come what may, if you have the right people in place then you can handle whatever comes your way.”

 

About the RBC Momentum Award

This entrepreneur has successfully capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% or more growth, year-over-year for three years or more. Through expanded management, empowered employees, and demonstrated excellence, she has created a flexible and responsive business that is able to adapt to changing market environments and leverage opportunities for continued growth.

 

 

 

  

Other Awards

Micro Business Award: This entrepreneur owns a small business that generates annual revenues under $1 million.

Staples Start-up Award: For an entrepreneur who, in a minimum of three years and maximum of five years, has prepped her company for the next level of growth.

Social Change Award: This entrepreneur is an exceptional leader of a non-profit or charitable organization dedicated to helping others.

TELUS Trailblazer Award: This entrepreneur has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement or opportunity and led the way.

TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship: This entrepreneur has launched and built one or more successful companies with a track record of growth and profitability over a period of at least 10 years.

 

 

Press Release: Call for CWEA Nominations

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In Celebration of International Women’s Day, Women of Influence Launches the Call for Nominations for the 25th Annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

 

 

TORONTO – MARCH 8TH – In celebration of International Women’s Day, RBC and Women of Influence are announcing the call for nominations for the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards (CWEA). Now celebrating its 25th year, these awards provide national recognition to Canada’s most accomplished and impactful women entrepreneurs, whose successful businesses and influence contribute so much to the local, national and global economy.

“RBC remains dedicated to helping create opportunities for women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, which is why we’re proud to work with Women of Influence again to launch this year’s RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards,” said Neil McLaughlin, executive vice-president, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We believe that achieving gender equity is both the smart thing and the right thing to do and key to Canada’s future economic development and prosperity. We’re committed to ensuring that women have the resources they need to play an active role in that future.”

To date, over 25,000 women from their early twenties to their mid-eighties, from every sector of the economy, have been nominated for these awards. Over 126 Awards have been presented for outstanding entrepreneurial achievement. The following awards are presented: Micro-Business Award, Staples Start-Up Award, RBC Momentum Award, Social Change Award, TELUS Trailblazer Award, and the TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship.

The potential boost to economic activity by tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of women is significant and could sustain women as a source of economic growth in Canada for decades to come.

“The innovation, passion and determination of women entrepreneurs both deserves and needs to be recognized and celebrated,” said Alicia Skalin, Co-CEO, Head of Events and Programming, Women of Influence, “Not only are they contributing greatly to the economy and impacting their communities, they also serve as role models to other aspiring female business owners. They are proof that dreams are achievable.”

 

To nominate, please go to http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/rbc-cwea.

 

—30—


For interview requests or further information please contact:

 

Aylanah Whitten

416-629-9144 | awhitten@womenofinfluence.ca

 

Rob Merk

416-955-6665| rob.merk@rbc.com

 

ABOUT THE RBC CANADIAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are the pre-eminent national business awards recognizing the country’s leading female entrepreneurs. The awards are an initiative of Women of Influence, an award-winning organization dedicated to the professional advancement of Canadian women.

 

ABOUT WOMEN OF INFLUENCE

Women of Influence, now in its 24th year, is North America’s leading organization of its kind. Offering solutions to further women’s advancement, including courses in executive leadershipglobal events, and print and digital content, Women of Influence annually reaches over 200,000 professional women and men across North America and internationally. Signature events include the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards and the Women of Influence Luncheon Series. For more information, please visit www.womenofinfluence.com.

 

ABOUT RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have over 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 35 other countries. For more information, please visit http://www.rbc.com/.‎

 

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. For more information please see: http://www.rbc.com/community-sustainability/.

 

Advice from the Micro-Business Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Micro-Business Award proves that small businesses can still have great impact and contribute to innovation in Canada. This award category honours small businesses generating annual revenues under $1 million (with a steady growth rate) in any industry and at any stage of business.

 

We’ve asked the winner of the award and the finalists in this category for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

 

Finalist: Kim Hall, Physio2U

Physio2U is an innovative health-care company which provides in-home physiotherapy services, which are historically received in a private clinic, hospital or rehabilitation facility. People who suffer from injuries or diseases that limit their mobility and independence are often unable to get to a clinic or facility for treatment that they desperately need; with Physio2U, Kim Hall has helped people overcome the barrier to access of physiotherapy services by making it possible for treatment to be received in a location that is convenient to the client. 

Q: What did you learn in your first year of business? 

A: The small business community in BC is incredibly supportive and there are so many wonderful resources available to new entrepreneurs. No MBA’s are necessary in today’s day and age to be a successful business owner.

 

 

 

Finalist: Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Inc.

AquaMobile is North America’s largest at-home, on demand swim lesson provider, with over 1500 certified, experienced and insured swim instructors in cities across Canada and the US who come to your home or condo to teach private swimming lessons in your own pool. They leverage their own proprietary tech platform to instantly match a certified and insured AquaMobile Instructor with each student based on age, skill level and time preferences, ensuring each customer has a five-star experience.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

A: Focus. It’s so easy to get distracted along the entrepreneurial journey, but if you do one thing, and do that one thing very well, you have a much higher chance of succeeding.

 

 

 

Winners: Isabelle and Marie-Hélène Primeau, Premier Continuum Inc.

Premier Continuum Inc. (PCI) specializes in the field of Resilience, Business Continuity, Emergency Management, IT Disaster Recovery and Integrated Risk Management. Isabelle and Marie-Hélène offer the cloud based specialized software in addition to our consulting and training services to help prevent, prepare, respond and recover to any type of consequences that could deeply affect a business of any size, such as loss of premises, loss of IT, loss of key personnel / abnormal absenteeism and supply chain disruptions. 

Q: What do you wish you knew in the beginning?

A: We wish we had known that even as experts in risk management and business continuity, we had to learn how to take risks in business. While being conservative has provided stability and longevity, we should have taken more risks in the business, in particular in order to bring our software faster to the market.

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice From the Deloitte Start-up Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Deloitte Start-Up Award celebrates the achievements of a woman who, in three to five years, has developed her business into one that’s ready for the next level of growth. Since starting out, these three finalists have been successful in building a profitable business with a comprehensive and sustainable plan.

We’ve asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

Finalist: Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio

At Barre Body Studio (BBS) Marlo Brausse offers fitness classes that are a combination of Pilates, yoga and dance, with a focus on building long, lean muscles, tightening, toning and strengthening the core. Using mostly body weight, light free weights, and resistance bands, participants endure high repetitions to exert muscles to the point of fatigue, making this a highly effective fitness class. But, because it is choreographed to upbeat music and performed in a highly motivating group environment, it is equal parts FUN! Barre Body Studio also offers a teacher training program, and to date has held nine teacher training programs and have trained instructors across Alberta and British Columbia, a priority for Brausse whose goal is to ensure that the principles of barre are carried over in a safe and well-executed manner.

Q: What would you tell to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: Being an entrepreneur takes self-discipline, sacrifice and a lot of passion.  Nurture your employees, your brand and your business community; learn what you don’t know and ask for help – you will be surprised by how far these practices will take you.

 

 

 

Winners: Angela Marotta & Melissa Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyards

Two Sisters Vineyards, owned by sisters Angela Marotta and Melissa Paolicelli, is a private, family-owned corporation with a purpose to offer a full service prestige destination winery with on-site tasting and retail, restaurant, corporate facilities and offices located in a desirable area of Niagara wine country. It operates from a 76-acre estate in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake. From the start, the vision was to craft Ontario ultra premium VQA wines comparable to international benchmarks.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

A:

Melissa – Regardless if the market sways due to various economic factors, never sacrifice the the quality or the standards of your product.  Evaluate other areas of the operation before you cut costs on production standards.

 Angela – Take it slow. As women and mothers, we cannot to everything well all the time, you are a better decision maker when working from a clear focused mind than a foggy confused mind.

 

 

 

Finalist: Melanie Caines, Nova Yoga

Nova Yoga is an award winning business that serves up yoga to clients in fresh and exciting ways, with Director Melanie Caines offering multiple styles and levels of yoga at St. John’s, Newfoundland studio, with the aim of making yoga interesting to everyone and accessible to all. Nova Yoga also offers people the opportunity to explore their yoga practice in the comfort of their own home, at work, or on the go through various initiatives that allow home access to Caines’ instruction. Nova Yoga’s local and international yoga retreats are rejuvenating and healthy vacations, including meditation, yoga twice a day, fresh healthy food, excursions, and rest and relaxation, all in a beautiful environment and surrounded by like-minded people. 

Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

A: Work smarter, not harder! It’s a great reminder and crucial in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the RBC Momentum Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The RBC Momentum Award Finalists are entrepreneurs that have overcome obstacles, capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% growth or more, and have done so for more than three years. Through their expanded management, empowered employees, and demonstrated success, these entrepreneurs have created a flexible and responsive business that is able to adapt to changing market environments and leverage opportunities for continued growth. 

 We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs.

 

Winner: Kate Ross LeBlanc, Saje Natural Wellness

Saje Natural Wellness provides 100% natural product solutions that help the body detoxify and recover from the elements’ harmful effects. Their extensive product line includes natural remedies for a variety of everyday health concerns, including headaches, stress, allergies, colds, and more, with a vision of global wellness inspired by Ross LeBlanc’s husband’s own health challenges and chronic pain and her own love for retail. Their mission is to connect people with the healing power of plants, through living, sharing and inspiring holistic wellness daily.

Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

A: That it’s ok to be a leader. Growing up in a small town, I had a few painful experiences early on around standing out too much, and in many ways I resisted my own growth into leadership. I wish I had known earlier that it could be so incredibly rewarding; that ‘boss’ and ‘bossy’ are not the same thing. Yes, it’s a big responsibility to help shape someone’s career, but moreover: it’s an honour and I wish I had started this part of my own development earlier.

 

 

Finalist: Alyssa Furtado, Ratehub

RateHub.ca is an online platform that aggregates and compares mortgage rates, credit cards and other financial products offered by Canada’s major banks, neighbourhood credit unions and brokers. Furtado’s service allows Canadians to compare thousands of rates from hundreds of providers, with a few easy clicks, saving them time and empowering consumers to better evaluate their options so they can make smarter financial decisions.

Q: What would you tell a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs to start today. Launching a business and taking on substantial financial risk only gets harder as we get older. Your job and salary become harder to walk away from and life’s responsibilities from mortgage payments to growing a family only increase over time. The younger you start the more risks you can take.

 

 

Finalist: Sylvia MacVey, G. E. Barbour

G E Barbour Inc (Barbours) is a 149 year old food processing, family owned corporation, traditionally focused on servicing the regional Atlantic Canadian retail market with forays into the Canadian and US private label markets. Under MacVey’s leadership, Barbours has established itself as an innovative co-packer and product development partner in Canada and the US.

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the Telus Trailblazer Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Telus Trailblazer Award honours an entrepreneur that is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement, or opportunity and has bravely led the way. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership within her company and market, and has set standards for originality, quality and successful management. These entrepreneurs are mentors, visionaries, leaders, and successful businesswomen of their industry.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists what advice they would give to another entrepreneur facing uncertainty about their own trailblazing idea:

 

Eva Sun, The Rice People

Food processors aren’t generally associated with being leading edge trailblazers – but Eva Sun’s company is different. With a motto of Respect, Integrity, Care and Share, The Rice People’s commitment to their customers, partners, and global community.  Rice is a common staple that most people take so easily for granted, but rice is actually a much varied resource with much room for quality enrichment, especially in Canada. From farm to fork, it is Sun’s passion to make rice with accountable and consistent quality. They carefully source globally for the most reliable quality, eco-friendly raw material from eight countries. 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Simonot, NKS Health

NKS Health is a specialty pharmacy that focuses on a few chronic diseases and creates patient programs to improve the patient’s health quickly and maximize their outcomes. Expert pharmacists start with triaging the patient with a home visit where the patient can be referred to Simonot’s allied health care team including nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists and social worker for consultation. NKS Health continuously meets with leading researchers in teaching hospitals to update our programs and ensure patients benefit from the latest findings, and host monthly events where patients can participate through webinars including exercise and relaxation techniques to treat chronic diseases whose symptoms can be exacerbated by stress. NKS Health’s ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes, and are unique in Canada as no other pharmacy offers this kind of care.

Q: What advice would you give to another business-woman facing uncertainty about her own trailblazing idea?

A: You will know if you are in the right place when you land your first few contracts and the high that you feel at that moment. These are the best moments. They will help you get through the challenging times.

 

 

 

Beth Hatt, Aquila Tours

Since opening their doors in 1982, Aquila has been on an incredible journey to being recognized as an innovative leader in the tourism industry. Today, Aquila’s area of excellence is concentrated on cruise, delivering shore excursions to cruise lines when they anchor in the Bay of Fundy. Each year, Aquila creates engaging experiences for almost 60,000 travellers cruising our shores, and tour guides, operators in our programs. At the encouragement of top executives at major cruise lines, Aquila established Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence in 2007, offering workshops and customized training programs to Tour Operators, Ports and Destinations around the world. In 2010, Aquila developed Tour Guide Excellence, the first online International Certification program designed specifically for tour guides in the cruise industry. As the official training partner of the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association), Aquila’s training programs have been endorsed by all the major cruise lines for their certifications to Tour Guides and Tour Operators. Today, Aquila is seen as the standard for Shore Excursions and Tour Operations worldwide.

 

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the Social Change Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Social Change Award celebrates an exceptional leader of a not-for-profit or charitable organization that is dedicated to helping others help themselves. These leaders assist in social change and improving the quality of lives around us, not to mention garnering extraordinary support from the community by championing philanthropy and volunteerism in Canada.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

 

Finalist: Dianne Fehr, Immigrant Access Fund

Each year, thousands of internationally-trained immigrants arrive in Canada with dreams of building a successful life for themselves and their families. Often, they arrive with excellent skills, education and experience, but face barriers to securing employment in their field and languish in unemployment or “survival” jobs. A significant barrier for many lack of funds to pay for the Canadian licensing/training they need to work in their field. IAF removes that financial barrier through a character-based micro loan program, with the vision of skilled immigrants being equitably integrated into the workforce and contributing their expertise to Canada’s economic and social success.

 

 

Finalist: Patricia Pottie, Strongest Families Institute

Strongest Families Institute is a federally incorporated not-for-profit institute that delivers evidence-based mental health programs to children, youth and families from a distance. Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President and CEO, is a passionate academic and professional who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families through innovation. SFI’s groundbreaking distance-delivery system removes barriers that prevent families from accessing traditional mental health services. It provides, effective evidence-based and cost-efficient programs, when and where families need help. It achieves consistently strong clinical outcomes and high levels of family satisfaction.

 

 

 

Winner: Jennifer Flanagan, Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education outreach organization engaging 250,000 youth each year in transformational experiences that help them achieve their potential. Actua’s delivery model includes a network of 34 university and college based STEM outreach organizations and its own outreach team, together delivering programming in 500 communities across every province and territory. Actua’s focus at the national level is on engaging Canada’s most underserved youth populations with the most innovative content in order to contribute to the diversity that is needed to drive social and economic innovation in Canada.

 

 


The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 


Advice from the PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

Through timely innovation, strategic thinking, and smart execution, these three finalists have launched—and built one (or more!) successful companies with a track record of growth, profitability, industry leadership, as well as breaking new ground. Through their drive, managerial acumen, and leadership traits, they have generated exceptional economic growth and social change.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs.

 

 

Finalist: Margot Micallef, Oliver Capital Partners

Founded in 2003, Oliver Capital Partners Inc. is a successful merchant bank that to date has invested in broadcasting, publishing, real estate, food manufacturing and restaurant brands. Through these investments, OCP oversees directly and indirectly over 2,300 employees and over $600 million in revenues. OCP’s investment strategy is two-fold: invest in the debt of well-run companies with strong cash flows and invest in the equity of troubled companies which can be turned around.

 

 

Finalist: Michelle Gerrard, Neepawa Home Hardware

Neepawa Home Hardware Building Centre is an independently owned building centre and hardware retail location that is part of the Home Hardware dealer co-operative. The store Gerrard purchased in 2003 had been on the market for 10 years, and was in danger of closing. Gerrard believed it was in the best retail location in Neepawa, and just needed a facelift with refreshed product offering to be viable. In a small, rural community such as Neepawa, Gerrard feels it’s important to have as many retail options within the community as possible to keep the community thriving, which was the driving decision behind expanding the business in 2010. 

 

 

Winner: Kathy Gregory, Paradigm Quest

Founded by Gregory after being let go from her position in the world of finance, Paradigm Quest Inc. is the fastest growing mortgage company in Canada, providing a one-stop solution from origination to providing cost effective back office mortgage solutions to lenders, which enables them to proactively respond to market conditions, lead the market in innovation, and ultimately provide the mortgage consumer with greater choice and an unparalleled mortgage experience. Paradigm is recognized by major Canadian financial institutions as a leading BPO in the financial services sector and has signed major outsourcing contracts with Canadian chartered banks.

 

 

Related: 22 Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Winners Announced for the 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards!

RBC CWEA Winners

We are excited to announce the winners of our 24th annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards!

The CWEA awards recognize the country’s leading female entrepreneurs who have made impressive and substantial contributions to the local, Canadian or global economy. This year’s judging panel was comprised of twelve of Canada’s top business leaders, including: Ian Portsmouth, Publisher & Editor of PROFIT Magazine; Tracie Crook, COO of McCarthy Tétrault LLP; Rajini McRae, Senior Director, Pricing and Treasury Relations, RBC Royal Bank and; Raymonde Lavoie, Co-Founder and Partner, DesArts Communication.

Our judges selected six ventures and the eight incredible entrepreneurs behind them as the recipients of the prestigious awards, which span across six distinct categories. The winners include two business partnerships comprised of sisters; the founder of Canada’s leading wellness brand; and the CEO of one of the country’s leading mortgage firms with over $20 billion dollars in assets.

 

 

This year’s winners are:

 

ADP Micro Business Award

Isabelle Primeau & Marie-Helene Primeau, Premier Continuum Inc., Montreal, QC

 

 

Deloitte Start-Up Award

Angela Marotta & Melissa Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyard, Niagara Region, ON

 

 

RBC Momentum Award

Kate Ross Leblanc, Saje Wellness, Vancouver, BC

 

 

Social Change Award

Jennifer Flanagan, Actua, Toronto, ON

 

 

TELUS Trailblazer Award

Eva Sun, The Rice People, Richmond, BC

 

 

PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship

Kathy Gregory, Paradigm Quest Inc., Toronto, ON

 

“RBC is honoured to recognize women entrepreneurs and their immense contributions in the Canadian and global economies,” says Neil McLaughlin, Executive Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “Through their passion and dedication, these dynamic women are leaving their mark on the marketplace and their communities. They are an inspiration for other Canadian business owners.”

Congratulations to our winners! We are proud to honour your achievements and continue to be inspired by your success.

 

 

Five Things Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Know

cwea finalists headshots

 

Building a successful venture is no easy task. We asked five of our RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards finalists for their best advice to share with aspiring entrepreneurs. What we learned? A little bit of confidence and a lot of help will take you far. 

 


Meet the Experts:

Alyssa Furtado, Ratehub.ca
Kate Ross Leblanc, Saje Natural Wellness
Kim Hall, Physio2U
Nancy Simonot, NKS Health
Diana Goodwin, Aquamobile

 

 

1. Start today.

Alyssa Furtado, Ratehub.ca: Aspiring entrepreneurs should start today. Launching a business and taking on substantial financial risk only gets harder as we get older. Your job and salary become harder to walk away from and life’s responsibilities, from mortgage payments to growing a family, only increase over time. The younger you start the more risks you can take

 

2. Believe in the concept.

Nancy Simonot, NKS Health: Believe in the concept. Many days it will feel like you are being pushed backwards instead of forwards but if you believe in what you are doing and persevere, you will also have amazing days when it all comes together for you.

 

3. Ask for help.

Diana Goodwin, Aquamobile: I wish I knew about the extent of resources that exist for entrepreneurs in Canada, through government and nonprofit programs, in the form of grants, skill development and expertise. It took me a long time to get the lay of the land but once I did, it was extremely helpful.

 

4. Don’t be afraid to lead.

Kate Ross Leblanc, Saje Natural Wellness: It’s okay to be a leader. Growing up in a small town, I had a few painful experiences early on around standing out too much, and in many ways I resisted my own growth into leadership. I wish I had known earlier that it could be so incredibly rewarding; that ‘boss’ and ‘bossy’ are not the same thing. Yes, it’s a big responsibility to help shape someone’s career, but moreover, it’s an honour and I wish I had started this part of my own development earlier.

 

And lastly…

5. Limits don’t exist.

Kim Hall, Physio2U: No MBA’s are necessary in today’s day and age to be a successful business owner.

 

Read more advice for entrepreneurs from our Deloitte Start-Up Award finalists.