In this new 10-part podcast series, Tony Chapman talks with Canadian entrepreneurs about how their lives have changed since COVID-19. Joined by a panel of experts and thought leaders, #SmallBusinessMatters dives into the challenges facing entrepreneurs to provide timely insights, ideas and much-needed inspiration.
RBC is proud to help give entrepreneurs a voice at this critical time, and access to business experts as they find their way through uncharted territory.
Episode Ten: Can Made with Local go Global?
Sheena Russell is the co-founder of Made with Local, a Certified B Corp food business that sources local ingredients and employees who have barriers to the mainstream workforce. When COVID hits, the government orders this ‘high risk’ segment of the population into isolation, leaving Sheena with a ton of orders to fill and no one there to help her. Sheena makes a trademark entrepreneurial move – she jumps in with her family to bake, make and ship products, and fast-tracks a new product that is perfect for these times.
Sheena turns to our expert panel for advice on competing in the competitive food market while staying true to her vision of balancing purpose and profit:
- Sheena Russell, Founder, Made with Local
- Andrew Black, Founder Managing Partner, Brand Project
- Bobby Sahni, Partner & Co-Founder, Ethnicity Matters
- Kellie Sauriol, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC
- Jeanne Beker, Style Editor at TSC , Author, Keynote Speaker, Host, Freelance Journalist, Creative Director, www.jeannebeker.com
- Sabrina Geremia, VP & Country Director at Google Canada
- Lolita Guerrera, VP Commercial Markets, Retail at RBC
- François Thériault, Co-Founder at Surmesur
- Chris Barrett, CEO, Operatic Agency
- Duke McKenzie, CEO, re6l
- Robert Carter, Managing Partner at The StratonHunter Group
- Stephen Shaw who has produced for the Rolling Stones and Oprah Winfrey;
- Joe Jackman who has helped some of the words largest brands pivot;
- Kiruba Sankar, Global Leader, Global Procurement – Corporate Social Responsibility, RBC
- Lisa Kimmel, Chair & CEO, Canada & Latin America – Edelman
- John Ruffolo, Founder, OMERS Ventures and Co-Founder – Council of Canadian Innovators
- Eric Leblanc, VP, Knowledge based Industry, RBC
- Nancy Rooney, Vice President Marketing, Global Customers at PepsiCo
- Darrell Jones, President, Save-On-Foods
- Jane Henderson, VP, Commercial Banking, RBC
- Ujwal Arkalgud, a cultural anthropologist, Motivbase
- Alexandra Blum, a talented tourism marketer, Silverlining Marketing
- Kellie Sauriol, Regional Vice President, RBC who considers small business operators as heroes for their advice.
- Kelly Peters, CEO & Co-Founder, BeWorks
- Beverley Hammond, Chief Business Officer, Brokenheartloveaffair
- Caroline Paxton, Media & Strategic Initiatives, RBC
- Lori Darlington, VP Small Business & Strategic Partnerships, RBC
- David Kincaid – Founder & Managing Partner – Level5 Strategy
- Trung Ngo – Clinic Director and Doctor of Chiropractic – Nova Healthcare
- Laura Davy, National Director, CFS Client Strategy – Retail and Health Care, RBC
- Sid Paquette, Head, Venture Capital and Innovation, RBC
- Denise Rossetto, Broken Heart Love Affair
- Corby Fine, one of Canada’s leading thinkers on digital activation
- Lori Darlington, VP of Small Business at RBC
Episode Nine: Will Surmesur Fit in a Post-COVID-19 Economy?
François and his brother Vincent, founders of Surmesur, understand customer service better than most. Instead of selling a suit, they train their staff to sell into a moment that someone wants to own –walking down the aisle, presenting in a boardroom, or looking sharp for that first date. They’ve combined this insight, with a personality led shopping experience and state of the art technology. The result is fabulous, fitted, and affordable made-to-measure fashion for men and a loyal customer base. Their skills as entrepreneurs lead them from one store in Quebec City to expansion across Canada and into the United States and Mexico. Then COVID hits. We asked our expert panel to help François chart a profitable path forward:
Episode Eight: Bedridden by COVID, Can Ernesto Save His Restaurants?
Ernesto Gomez is a first-generation Canadian who fell in love with food helping his mother and grandmother prepare meals in their Mexico kitchen. His restaurant business is a case study in entrepreneurship in terms of restaurants formats, culture and community. He and his business partner Victor, had set their sights on a new location in Spain when COVID-19 attacks. They have to shut down their restaurants, and Ernesto catches the virus. This is a story about resilience, reinvention and catching dreams served with compelling advice on how to engage the head, heart and wallets of customers. Can our experts help keep Ernesto’s dream alive and jobs for his employees?
Episode Seven: Events are Cancelled, Jennifer Needs to Pivot Staff Shop.
Jennifer Menard’s life has been about reinvention, regardless of her circumstance. She found her path through a mentor who employed her and then subsequently encouraged her to buy the business she helped build. She rebrands, brings in a partner and Staff Shop is now staffing events across North America and even the Caribbean. Her business is guided by purpose and all is promising until COVID-19 cancels every event.
Listen to how Jennifer responds by pivoting her business, earning the admiration and advice from our experts:
Episode Six: Can Hoot Reading Get the Attention They Deserve?
After a five-year stint with Sesame Streets Labs in New York, and getting her Masters in Education at Harvard, Carly Shuler created Hootreading.com. Matching students with real teachers along with Carly’s proprietary technology and teaching methods, her business takes off. But will it draw attention from multinationals and steal her market share with their deeper pockets? Our team of experts steps in to help:
We ask experts to weigh in:
Episode Five: Mother Raw battles the food giants
Kristi Knowles carried on the legacy of her company’s Founder with a bold rebrand to gain market share against international giants. Mother Raw continues to innovate into a lineup of plant-based, organic salad dressings, and condiments, proudly manufactured in Canada. In just over a year, Mother Raw is in 5,000 locations, including Target in the USA and Walmart in Canada. But can Kristi finance this growth? Is Food Service a new opportunity? What role does Manufactured in Canada play?
We ask experts to weigh in:
Episode Four: Can Joe O’Brien keep his boats afloat?
Joe O’Brien is a gifted entrepreneur. His Newfoundland & Labrador tourism operation, O’Brien’s Boat Tours, includes three boats, two restaurants, gift shops, and shuttle buses as he captains his guests to the edge of the world where they get so close to a whale that they can smell its breath. Joe’s philosophy on how to create experiences for his guests and employees that last a lifetime is a masterclass for the service economy. But could this economic storm capsize his business? We called in some experts to help lift his spirit and his boats back into the water:
Lisa left the security of a great job to launch the Challenge Factory, a research-based, process-driven 100 person consultancy that help companies create productive cultures where people work with a higher purpose. Moving from the uncertainty of a startup to the complexities of leading a growing business, her business is turned upside down by today’s economic uncertainty. Our experts lean in with insights on branding, positioning, and building a more robust social presence:
Paul Hemburrow and his partner bought a profitable business that rents TV sets to patients in hospitals and expanded it to offer a suite of innovative tools that patients can access at their bedside. COVID-19 arrives and no one is focused on the future. HealthHub knows that putting the future of healthcare in the patient’s hands is the right vision, but they are running out of time and money. Our panel steps in with expert advice:
Traci Shepheard left a very successful 24-year career to pursue an entrepreneurial dream in the health and wellness space. Her idea was a mobile meditation studio and put her life savings into MeditationWorks.com, outfitting an Airstream Trailer along the way. Then, as she started the ignition, the wheels fell off of her business. Traci talks to Tony about managing stress, and then gets expert advice from:
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