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Spotlight on Ishoni: When Opportunity Comes Knocking

Lauren Marinigh | November 21, 2016

After taking the leap into entrepreneurship as a career coach, resume writer and LinkedIn expert, Kamara Toffolo found that one of the main struggles she faced was finding clients, a struggle she found many other coaches were also facing. She began to try various ways to connect with clients such as social media, coaching directories, networking events, and the list goes on, but she was finding her conversion rates were quite low and she continued to struggle.

It was a Sunday morning when Kamara was sitting having coffee with her husband, Paul, sharing her frustrations, when a light bulb went off. The pair realized that the directories out there for coaches either hired their own coaches or the websites were very basic and didn’t do much in the way of actually helping them. At the time, Kamara was paying to be a part of the largest and best-known coaching directory, but still wasn’t finding it very helpful. She realized that she was wasting all this time looking for clients when she could be spending that time doing what she did best, coaching!

It was that Sunday morning when Kamara and Paul Toffolo decided to do things better and improve the workspace for coaches like Kamara. That Sunday is the day that the idea of Ishoni was born.

Ishoni is a coach matchmaking service that connects coaches with clients. They focus on the business side of coaching which includes business, career, leadership, executive and entrepreneurship. How it works is that a coach or client would visit the Ishoni website, complete the sign-up form and the brains behind the operation will personally reach out to the registrant to learn more about their business to ensure the best possible match with their ideal clients. This personal interaction with their coaches is what sets Ishoni apart from their competitors. “We don’t use fancy algorithms, or an inexperienced virtual assistant to do the matching,” Paul explained. “The person doing the matching is a coach, just like the coaches we serve.”

Seeing the gap in the industry, Paul and Kamara jumped on the opportunity to bring others just like them a service that would help fill a need. Having experienced some of the platforms out there as customers themselves, it was critical for them to provide service to their clients that didn’t ever make them feel like just a number, but instead, a partner. The pair shared a dream to take the leap into entrepreneurship, they were just waiting for that “ah-ha” moment where they both found something they were passionate about and that would truly make a difference in the lives of others. “As a full time employee, we simply weren’t afforded the opportunity to make a direct impact or contribution,” Paul described. “It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, in this day and age there are so many resources available to help an entrepreneur succeed.”

Some of those resources that Paul and Kamara depended on were the ones provided by Futurpreneur Canada. After attending a few webinars with the Futurpreneur team, Paul felt the program offerings were the right match for them and they started putting their business plan together and applied! As part of the Futurpreneur program, entrepreneurs are also matched with a professional business mentor which Paul explains as being a huge asset to Ishoni. “Our mentor has brought a lot of his own business experience to the table and has also provided us with valuable insight and guidance,” he shared. “He always makes himself available to us for meetings and consistently sends us useful links and tools that help with our venture.”

Paul wanted to leave other aspiring entrepreneurs with one piece of advice: “Keep pushing forward and never quit. Use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. See the bumps along the way as opportunities to build strength, rather than obstacles.”

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada