Meet Melinda Ponting-Moore, Co-Founder & President of Craft Coast Canning Ltd.

Seeing a need for a professional packaging option on the “craft coast” — Eastern Canada — Melinda Moore co-founded Craft Coast Canning in 2017. The company supplies cans, packaging materials, graphic design, quality control, mobile canning, and laboratory services to businesses, from small craft breweries to international brands. A practicing lawyer since 2019, Melinda completed three degrees before her thirties, and started a holdings corporation which owns interests in a number of brands that promote female-entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship.

My first job ever was…Working in the family business, cleaning grease trays and chrome polishing airplanes. Sometimes running errands for the office. First external job was Blockbuster! Worked there through high school and one year of University.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… For me it happened organically since I was raised by entrepreneurs. We had an idea that was marketable, so jumping in with both feet to actualize that goal was only a question of belief in the concept. I was in a place (just having completed my MA while still in law school) where I felt like I was up for an ambitious challenge and able to wear more than one hat, and my husband and I worked together to balance our family resources to make the energy and capital intensive startup phase work.

My proudest accomplishment is… Of course, there are some legal files that I am extremely proud of, but I cannot ethically disclose. But professionally overall, I think my proudest accomplishment was the day I was selected as a finalist for this award. Until then I had not taken time to stop and reflect on what I had been working towards for the last decade. It is so easy to have tunnel vision day-to-day. This nomination was the first time I really stepped back and thought, “hmm… I think I’ve actually built something!” I am proud of getting here, and even more proud of the team is going to keep the companies’ momentum going!

My biggest setback was… There are so many! I think there was a real low when I left University after my Bachelor’s degree. I had always wanted to practice law, but also wanted to continue learning through research, and of course, I needed to finance it all. For a time had no idea how I would pull this off, and I lacked any direction and felt completely lost. I doubted my ambitions and questioned my abilities. Looking back, I think I felt like I was cookie dough, I needed to be baked a little longer to turn out the way I needed to.

I overcame it by… Pushing forward regardless, and trying again when possible. I reinvested in myself, and IMPORTANTLY asked for help! My husband (then boyfriend at the time) shouldered a lot so I could pursue my goals. I overcame any fear of pivoting and reorganized my plans as necessary. My mantra was taught to me from my mother… never be afraid to try, but always try. It saved me.

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… A google search does not show much about me. I have do not have many accolades to show. But I used to participate in a number of martial arts, I rescue animals on a 14-acre property in the sticks, I read books on theoretical physics for fun, I officiate weddings for charity, and I once spent three days straight awake watching all of the James Bond movies back-to-back. The point is, professionally I have a need to be hardworking in the face of challenges, and privately I spend time seeking out more challenges and tackling the ones that cannot easily be monetized. The latter is the part the internet will likely never see.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Never be afraid to try, but always try.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… Stop. Breathe. And do not be afraid to ask for help.

Success to me means… Balance and the ability to actualize imagination. Success is different for everyone, but I believe if you can maintain your rationality and logic and apply your talents to the world that is success whatever dollar amount rests in your bank account.

I stay inspired by… The people around me. My mother, my husband, my step dad and brother, my in-laws, my friends, the memory of the amazing people who helped train my work ethic (my thesis supervisor Caroline Bassett, my Grandmothers Will Boer and Phyllis Moore, my Grandfather Edmond Boer, my Great Uncle Henri Boer, my dad Carey Moore), and my co-workers, employees and law clients. I constantly feel like I am being driven by their belief in my potential.

My next step is… Long term I plan on working on the balance component to my definition of success. Short and medium term, adjusting the business plans for our businesses to the new normal of our economic activities. In particular, reorienting the direction of our businesses that pivoted as they were deemed essential services during the pandemic for sustainable growth, and finding ways to reconnect with some projects that were dropped as a result during this time. In particular I have had an animal rights opportunity that had been pushed to the side during the pandemic and I would love to reinvest my efforts in to helping see that project move forward.  

Meet Hyla Nayeri & Adrien Bettio, Co-Founders of 437

Best friends Hyla Nayeri and Adrien Bettio launched 437 (previously known as 437 SWIMWEAR) after a summer of travelling across the Amalfi Coast and indulging in everything their hearts desired. The one issue they faced: finding swimwear that could keep up with their craving for adventure and carbs. The two set out to design a bikini that would accentuate their waist, elongate their legs and never stop them from grabbing that second serving of spaghetti bolognese. They launched the brand in the summer of 2017 out of the townhouse they lived in during their last year of university, 437 Johnson St.

My first job ever was… 

For Hyla: Hostess at Boston Pizza 

For Adrien: Sales support intern at Hugo Boss 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… 

For Adrien & Hyla: We weren’t passionate about the career options business school showcased, so we decided we wanted to do something we are passionate about. We saw a gap in the industry and decided to take a chance and start this swimwear business to create swimwear that flattered all bodies 

My proudest accomplishment is… 

For Adrien: Making Forbes 30 under 30 this past year was a dream come true! This has been on our vision board since day one 

My biggest setback was… 

For Hyla: Our new manufacturer in New York fled overnight with $40,000 from our company and we never heard from them again! 

I overcame it by… 

For Hyla: Re-evaluating the swimwear we had and turning versatility into one of the core pillars of our brand. We started tying the tops backwards and figuring out ways to reinvent our existing inventory to brand ourselves as a swim that could be tied various ways. 

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… 

For Hyla: How much I love reading, I’m an avid reader of finance, self help and wellness books

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is…

For Adrien: Don’t take everything so seriously. I think we were raised with so many high expectations put on us, and so much pressure to follow the traditional, linear route of excelling in school, then getting a secure job, then buying a house and starting a family. At 18, rather than having to look forward and make sure I was taking everything seriously so that I could follow that path, I should have been trying new things and having adventures. Life is short, everything works out as it should, and enjoying everyday by living in the present moment is the thing I wish I knew. 

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… 

For Adrien & Hyla: The importance of balance in your scheduling. Since day 1 of starting 437 we have prioritized balance in our lives. That meant sleeping enough, eating properly, working out, spending time with friends and family, and having personal downtime (on top of all of our work of course). We have had weeks, even months, where we feel like work is a non-stop grind. 

I stay inspired by… 

For Adrien & Hyla: We get countless emails, dms and messages about how someone has never felt wearing a bikini before and now feels empowered due to the way the suits are designed, the fabrics we picked and the messaging behind the brand. It is definitely something that we are so proud of and inspires us to keep working hard and inspiring more woman to feel their best selves. We attribute this accomplishment to our eye for detail and how focused we are on the design process alongside our design team. We always try on every style on a fit model from size XS to XXL and we don’t go into production unless every size feels extremely confident in their produced sample. 

My next step is… 

For Hyla & Adrien: We hope to focus on geographic expansion. Currently we only focus on the US and Canadian market (although we sell internationally they are not our focus of growth currently). This has been great because there are so many consumers that we still have yet to reach in these markets so there’s still a lot of room to grow. However in order to hit the next revenue milestones we want to begin to focus on geographic expansion to English-speaking locations such as the UK and Australia.

Meet Nicole Janssen, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of AltaML

Nicole Janssen is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of AltaML, a Canadian artificial intelligence scaleup that designs and implements applied AI solutions for businesses, helping them identify where AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies can be applied to improve their day-to-day operations. Nicole is also actively involved in helping Canadian business leaders understand the importance of ethical AI, and has been recognized by AI Global for this work. Prior to AltaML, Nicole co-founded Janalta Interactive Inc., an online media company as well as Stratus Holdings Inc., a private real estate investment firm. Active in her local community, Nicole currently serves as a Director at Innovate Edmonton.

My first job ever was… Bookkeeper at my mom’s company 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I grew up around entrepreneurs so it seemed natural for me. That being said, I might have taken a different path had it not been for participating in the Junior Achievement Company Program in high school. This experience allowed students to collaborate over several months to build a company together. The first step is always the hardest, and I was lucky to take my first leap into entrepreneurship in such a supportive environment. 

My proudest accomplishment is… My two children. They are both beautiful, inside and out. 

My biggest setback was… Being diagnosed with epilepsy. Lack of sleep and stress are two seizure triggers for me, which can be difficult to avoid as an entrepreneur. 

I overcame it by… Adjusting my perspective; I chose to look at epilepsy as a signal instead of a setback. I have something that tells me right away if I push too hard or don’t take the time I need to process. It is also a clear reminder that people face diverse constraints that might not be apparent on the surface, and that we all need to extend a little extra kindness. This awareness elevates my ability to lead, by demonstrating and communicating the importance of life balance. 

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… A lot of things! Caring for my horse gets me through the toughest of times; I love to get outside on my bike and have cycled from Jasper to Banff twice; my favorite drink is a Boulevardier; an organized pantry always makes me happy. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Don’t wait. The longer you wait the more reasons you will find not to take the leap.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… Commit to “no” to protect the most important “yes’s” 

Success to me means… I have a vision statement I keep in my wallet that reads: 

Celebrating each moment by choosing happiness. Living a life of trustworthiness, loyalty, honesty and competence. Having a healthy body through physical exercise and proper nutrition. Nourishing the mind through continual learning. Creating and maintaining healthy relationships with myself, my husband, children, family and friends; always sharing my love. To inspire everyone who has come in touch with me to live a life of fulfillment using their full potential. But most importantly, knowing when to put all that aside and just enjoy a good glass of Cabernet! 

I stay inspired by… My children. I want to build something that contributes to making Canada a country full of opportunity so that when the youth of today are grown, they have extraordinary opportunities right here at home. 

My next step is… Continuing to push towards our company mission of Elevating Human Potential through Applied AI and being ready for the next curveball!