• Mentoring

A Thank You to Mentors for National Volunteer Week

Futurpreneur | April 11, 2016

At Futurpreneur Canada, we have over 2,800 volunteer mentors who have made a significant impact on entrepreneurs across Canada. These mentors volunteer their time to offer their knowledge and experience as business professionals to help young entrepreneurs get their start-up business off the ground. With the help of our dedicated mentors, we’ve watched entrepreneurs flourish and because of that, we want to thank all of them for their time, dedication and expertise. Here are some thank you messages from some of our entrepreneurs to their mentors.

A thank you from Alex Ross of Fresh Adventures in Port Alberni, British Columbia to mentor Bob Davis

“Being partnered with a Futurpreneur Canada mentor has been a really amazing experience so far. I was lucky to be partnered with someone who understands my industry and business quite well, having owned an adventure travel company in the past. My mentor, Bob Davis, is a great listener and manages to wade through my rambling and hone in on the issue, which helps me clear my head. It is also really helpful to have someone thinking about my challenges in a refreshing, new angle, which has helped me improve my plans and methods many times. I am lucky that our personal skills complement each other, which helps inspire me to grow in areas that I am not as strong. Starting a business is very challenging and having someone on my side is really motivating and reassuring. Thanks for all your time and effort Bob. I look forward to you being a part of my story in future years.”

A thank you from Alex Drysdale of Crik Nutrition in Stony Mountain, Manitoba to mentor Chris Gaulin

“Having been involved with Futurpreneur Canada for almost a year I don’t know if I’d be where I am without them and their mentorship program. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and busy work that never ends. The fresh perspective and experience of my mentor has been a huge asset that has helped me stay on course right from the prototype stage, all the way through to major inventory orders and national press coverage. Mentors are an invaluable asset that is hard to come by and having Futurpreneur match you with someone that is pre-vetted and willing to help for the long haul has been amazing.”


A thank you from Jacqui Okum and Claire Tomchishen of Strawberry Blonde Bakery in Ottawa, Ontario to mentor Richard Hookham

“Our mentor, Richard (lovingly nicknamed Dusty by us because he once even swept our floors), mentored us for our first two years of business. I think the thing that surprised us the most about opening a business was how emotionally exhausting it was. Richard listened and offered advice no matter how big or small our issues seemed to be, and even if they weren’t directly related to our business. He kept us grounded and motivated. We may not have always agreed with him, but that also helped us to think things through. Thank you Richard for your expertise, your patience, and of course, your sense of humour that helped us through the hard times! His future proteges are lucky to have him.”

A thank you from Travis Dreger of Passages Media Ltd. in Winnipeg, Manitoba to mentors Jeff Ryzner & Christian Dandeneau

“I have been lucky to have two different mentors. I began the process of designing my business, www.Passages.life, with Jeff Ryzner, who has a creative side to him which really helped me in finding my value proposition, and building upon it in unique ways. I then began working with Christian Dandeneau as Jeff became very busy when he became the president of the Eureka Project. Christian has been a valuable mentor, as he has a very methodical approach to business. Christian is a realist, which has helped me to face some large decisions lately as to the direction of where the business should go in the near future, to ultimately benefit the company in the long run.

I have had two great mentors, and am lucky that for my larger decisions I am able to get two perspectives on the issue, as Jeff is willing to meet with me as well when I need a second opinion. I ultimately need to be able to make the best decision possible, and by having Christian and Jeff in my court, I am able to make some tough choices with more certainty and confidence as I have years of veteran business experience as my sounding board, looking out for me and my business. I can’t thank my mentors enough for volunteering the time to help me navigate my business endeavor as a young entrepreneur!”

A thank you from Drew Hume of Navina in Toronto, Ontatio to mentor Devon Brooks

“Devon Brooks is my mentor. I could leave it at that, and that would be enough. If you don’t know Dev (firstly, you should, so fix that), she’s a powerhouse, a hard worker, a critical thinker, a leader, a mother, a wife, a writer, a friend, and amongst many other things, she’s a total inspiration. I can’t thank Dev enough for all the support, kindness and motivation she has brought into my world. There aren’t enough ways to describe the immense impact she has had not only on my business, but my life as well. When Futurpreneur Canada paired me up with her I had no idea what I was in for, and I had no clue that this was going to be as magical as it has been.

One of the things that I love the most about Dev is that she leads from alongside you, not above you. She meets you where you’re at and provides food for thought on how you can take your own steps forward—in life and in business. From the beginning she’s been more focused on developing relationships than participating in a transaction, and as a result she gives her time generously and only with an expectation of respect.

Dev’s been the sounding board for new business ideas, personal difficulties, the slumps of owning a business and the triumphs of owning a business. Throughout it all, she’s been solid, and more than that she’s been totally real. Reality can be hard sometimes, but there’s no better person to deliver it than Dev. For all that and so much more, I’m so grateful to have Dev in my life!”

A thank you from Alesia Blackwood of UnLock Math Inc. in Indian River, Ontario to mentor Darryl Goodall

“Just over two years ago Darryl Goodall graciously agreed to be my mentor for Futurpreneur Canada and I am so glad that he did! Darryl is the President of Part Time CFO Services and he brought all of his incredible knowledge, experience, and business planning savvy to our mentor relationship. In each meeting Darryl went way and above the “requirements” of the mentor relationship as set by Futurpreneur. He has always made himself available for both me and my husband to “pick his brain” and ask for advice pertaining to our start-up, UnLock Math. He has introduced us to others in the community, inviting us to business networking events where we have been able to make valuable connections. He is always concerned that we’re not forgetting to balance our personal and family life as well, counseling us to make sure we make “family” time along with taking care of business. He has helped to steer us away from pitfalls and time wasters. I really could go on, and on, but mostly I want to say “Thank you Darryl!” I have gained not just a mentor, I have gained a friend!”

A thank you from Silvia Martinelli of Otimo in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia to mentor Dean Barbour

“I would like to thank my mentor Dean Barbour for his amazing work ethics and dedication to get me in the marketplace in six weeks, when everybody said it would take almost a year. He helped me to put a plan in place when I was lost, overwhelmed and disappointed at some contractors that got the money but did not do the job. He came in and showed me the way out of that dark situation. He put in extra hours and followed up with me constantly to make sure we were making the most out of our time. He spent his own time looking for solutions and helping me with the calls as well as the suppliers. He kept me focus and calmed me down when I was overwhelmed. I can truly say he saved my business launch.

After the launch he kept working with me and providing valuable advice that saved me thousands of dollars along the way. Every time I needed Dean he was just a phone call away and went above and beyond the mentorship work he was hands on, even helped me with tradeshows when I needed. I think that having the proper advisor in the beginning of your business career is essential for your success and to make sure you are constructing a long term viable business and this is what Dean did for me. I can safely say that if I am still in business after all the challenges I went thru, a greater percentage of the credit has to go to Dean Barbour. Thank you Dean for always being there for me and for my business.”

A thank you from Nicole Bezaire of Bell & Brace in Windsor, Ontario to mentor Maureen Lucas

“By far, the most beneficial part of my Futurpreneur Canada experience has been my mentor relationship. I was paired with Maureen Lucas, Owner and President of LucasWorks (a recruitment and human resource company). The business I started is Bell & Brace, a brass and woodwind musical instrument repair shop. Though I had huge family support, with a niche trade like instrument repair many doubted whether it would be a viable business. Maureen was 100% behind me right off the bat.

From our first meeting, her enthusiasm, combined with a practical outlook and extensive knowledge from developing a successful business of her own, made me feel like I had a secret weapon behind the scenes. If ever I had an issue, Maureen was there to turn it into a positive experience. From setting goals, to prioritizing, to brainstorming sessions, Maureen was able to look at my shop from a different perspective and lend real advice. I feel her influence gave Bell & Brace a professional image and attitude. Even if clients are experiencing musical instrument repair for the first time, they approach the trade and myself seriously. The shop even gained recognition from our local business community, winning “Outstanding New Business of 2014” from Biz X Magazine.

Maureen is someone that any entrepreneur can strive to be. Not only does she mentor with Futurpreneur, she is an active member of her local Rotary Club, serves on the Board of Directors for a local shelter helping women with addictions, and has started a number of groups that benefit our community, including 100 Women Who Care Windsor Essex. She humbly and generously gives back, leading by example in a way that is truly admirable. Being paired with such an inspirational and genuine woman has lent me to operating my shop in a way that I can be proud of. She’s shown me the possibilities are endless with the right attitude and hard work. For this National Volunteer Week, I hope that my mentor takes a moment to realize the great impact she’s had on others, and how thankful we are for her!”

A thank you from Nicole Mortimer of Laifa Baby in Oakville, Ontario to mentor Steve Becker

“I met Steve Becker in January 2016. While my business, Laifa Baby had accomplished several significant milestones, there was something missing. Working alone, I didn’t often have the luxury of questioning my decisions and actions. I usually just had one plan with no alternatives—there was no option for failure.

In just three short months, Steve’s mentorship through Futurpreneur Canada has taught me so much. He pokes holes in my best laid plans, questions my direction and business focus, makes sure I have a plan B, C and D and has helped me find balance in my personal life–important when you have a young family. He asks the hard questions that I overlook–out of languor or fear, he pushes me because he wants to see me grow professionally and he wants to see my business succeed. Why? Because that’s what awesome business mentors do!

Even with three kids at home, Steve always finds an hour a week to grab a coffee or talk on the phone to review challenges, talk about next steps and celebrate wins. Steve is smart, fun and not afraid to ask the hard questions. Thank you Steve for your time, expertise and experience. I’m so happy and grateful we met and can’t wait to continue working together.”

A thank you from Blessilda Urbi of GentStone in Vancouver, British Columbia to mentor Brian Li

“Brian, I remember one of the first things you said to me was, “I don’t succeed as a mentor unless you succeed”. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t know the real meaning of leadership. You have helped me every step of the way with your suggestions and guidance. You saved my business from failure because you truly believed in my potential and motivated me to pursue my goals. It is indeed a great opportunity to work with an individual like you and I am thankful for Futurpreneur for matching me with an amazing mentor.”

A thank you from Julia Zu and Nancy Lin of Sunberry Fitness in Richmond, British Columbia to mentor Gary Bizzo

“Julia and I would like to send you our THANKS! We really appreciate the monthly meetings, your wise advices & showing us how to host amazing events ;).

When Julia and I entered our first mentor meeting we really didn’t know what to expect. We heard you photographed President Bill Clinton, and organizes a weekend retreat named The Art of Masculinity. I said to Julia, “why did Futurpreneur match us with this guy? Don’t they know we are in women-only fitness?” But, our first meeting was very productive and full of humor. I still remember how that the meeting concluded with “call me before you do anything stupid” – one of the best advice we ever received. And we have since learned that you know a lot more about women-only fitness than we ever could imagined.

Over the 15 months since you started mentoring us, you have given us many wise words. You’ve taught us the differences between consultants, coaches and facilitators. Warned us about the danger of chasing a moving profit line. And to sniff out the real business model in any given industry. Gary, you can be sure that we will be seeking more of your wise advice in the future whether it’s with Sunberry Fitness or the new online fitness platform, Minty Fitness, that we’ve been talking to you about.”

A thank you from Matt Slaman of Pirate Life in Toronto, Ontario to mentor Scott Smith

I have no idea what I’m doing – a common line by small business owners just starting out. Without a mentor this can remain reality – whereas mentorship literally opens up doors to thousands of possibilities. Scott joined our crew at Pirate Life as a mentor in 2014 and he’s helped out enormously since then, from directly finding us clients, expert strategic advice and just a calm  second thought on tough decisions. Thanks Scott!”

Share your thank-yous to your mentors and inspirations on Twitter all this week using the hashtag #NVW2016, and if they’re a Futurpreneur mentor, make sure to tag us, @Futurpreneur, so we can share!