5 young B.C. entrepreneurs who used financing to grow their business

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Zach Berman & Ryan Slater @ The Juice Truck

What do an ethical urban flower shop, manly cupcake chefs, a pair of cold-press juice gentleman, a facial hair fashionista and a specialty gluten-free sweets supplier all have in common?

Aside from being just five of more than 382,200 small businesses in B.C., they were all started by entrepreneurs under the age of 39, and supported in the beginning by organizations like Futurpreneur Canada.

Futurpreneur Canada has been fuelling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for nearly two decades, and is the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, one-on-one mentorship and free support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39.

futurpreneur

We’ve all heard the statistics around youth unemployment, and anecdotes about the circumstances and uninspired career paths some Millennials are facing. However, not all young people in Vancouver are struggling to find purpose and meaning while career-building. Some choose to start their own businesses, creating their own paths to success with help from family, friends, mentors and entrepreneur support organizations.

So what exactly is some Vancouver’s youth doing with their time? What does an “average day at the office” look like for entrepreneurs? Megan Branson of Olla Urban Flower Project starts her day surrounded by beauty – she typically begins her day quite early with a visit to the flower auction or one of their urban gardens, and then transports the goods to her shop and starts designing for the day’s orders. The rest of the day is a mix of customer service, emails and deliveries and installations.

Megan Branson @ Olla Urban Flower Project (photo credit Daniel Rose)

For Zach Berman and Ryan Slater of The Juice Truck, it’s always a mix of running around, taking meetings, making juice, drinking juice and…drinking more juice.

Bombay Brow Bar owner Ravy Mehroke’s day starts at 10 a.m., with the first half of her day focused on working with her team and the second half focused on getting her larger work strategy goals done.

Ravy Mehroke @ Bombay Brow Bar

Sound hectic? It can sure feel like it! What is the secret to staying focused? For Megan, it is her husband who is great at pep talks. Ravy focuses on the big picture and goals, while Julie Beyer of For the Love of Food and Zach and Ryan use the power of nutrition by eating and drinking foods that decrease stress and feed the brain.

Julie Beyer @ For The Love Of Food (3)

Zach and Ryan emphasize the importance of personal care in the form of mediation and exercise – they try to work out with their friends as often as possible, or get outdoors, even if it’s just for half an hour.

Zach Berman & Ryan Slater @ The Juice Truck

Jeremy Wong of Mancakes Bakery has learned to stay positive to keep things fun, and relies on his discipline learned through years of sports training. Jeremy was on the Canadian men’s national team for gymnastics while playing hockey and basketball. Later on, these skills lead to major success in cheerleading, winning five World Championship titles. This taught him how to push through adversity and set goals.

Despite the challenges along the way, these entrepreneurs love the work that they do. For Zach and Ryan, it’s about the freedom to make change: “The days are usually long but we can create as much as we can imagine. If we want to roll out a new concept or work on a new collaboration, we have the freedom to explore. It never feels like work.” According to Jeremy, “The ceiling (or lack thereof) is the most rewarding thing. There aren’t any glass ceilings and you can push yourself as far as you want. The sky is actually not the limit!”

mancakes

Megan echoes this, saying that she loves the variety of each day’s work, and the inherent beauty and creativity in working with plants and flowers. Ravy loves creating change, and knowing that what she does makes a positive difference in peoples’ lives. Julie sums it up well: “It’s the feeling of a stranger reaching out to say thank you, and the gratification of witnessing your idea going from being a seed to being fully manifested in the world.”

It’s not always easy, it’s certainly diverse, and it’s always an adventure. In the wise words of one of our Futurpreneurs, Kevin Alto of Alto Collective: Don’t wait. If you have an idea, find ways to start testing it. Starting a business might seem daunting, so break down your idea and find small, less intimidating ways to test it. Learn as much as possible. This will help you decide whether to start a business with that idea, or a portion of that idea, or to try an entirely different idea altogether.

(If you are 18 – 39 years of age and thinking about starting your own business or taking your start-up to the next level, Futurpreneur Canada’s Vancouver office is here to help. Get in touch today with Paulina Cameron, Business Development Manager – she will figure out how to support you: pcameron@futurpreneur.ca or 604-598-2923). 

 

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