GEW On The Road Ambassador Alex

For Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) this week, we have teamed up with Amway Canada to send three ambassadors across the country to report live from the road as they visit Canadian entrepreneurs, small businesses, community partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and attend GEW events. Yesterday, our GEW On The Road ambassador Alex was on the road in Winnipeg, MB for the day. Here is a recap of his time in the city and some of the ‘ah-ha’ moments he had along the way.

After waking up bright and early at 7:00 am, Alex checked out of his hotel and walked over to the Futurpreneur Manitoba headquarters. After meeting his host Jenn and some other members of the Futurpreneur Manitoba team, Alex walked over to North Forge and Fabrication Lab where he received a tour from Mathew Olson, one of the entrepreneurs who work within their creative space.

Alex’s Insights:
My day started off great, with a visit and tour of the North Forge. I was guided throughout the facility by Mathew Olson, who turns out to be an avid snowboarder who produces his own customer-branded boards for his friends and himself. Needless to say, we struck it off with much to talk about. Matthew then proceeded to fill me in a bit more about the other ventures that he has been involved in and exploring for the future. He mentioned that I should touch base with him if I ever needed some custom branded promotional merchandise for VOLTFUSE store displays. Certainly a contact I intend to keep in touch with!

Alex also had the opportunity to ‘pitch’ his business to a group of government officials who were also visiting the North Forge, in which he got the chance to speak a bit about himself and his entrepreneurial journey. Following his North Forge visit, Alex headed back to the Futurpreneur Winnipeg office to participate in a Facebook Live Q&A about his GEW experience. During this, he also got the chance to answer some questions from viewers (watch the video here!).

Alex’s Insights:
Taking part in the Facebook live event was also very interesting. I enjoyed sitting down with Jen to discuss my GEW experience thus far, and then share that with the Futurpreneur audience while answering any questions that they had.

For lunch, he and Jen headed to Beet Happening, a Futurpreneur-supported restaurant, for lunch with Marnie Omichiniski, founder of Trip Elite.

Afterwards, Alex visited a variety of innovative business. He checked out Bit Space Development’s working lab, where he was able to try out some of their innovative VR technology and learn a bit more about their business. He met Adam, founder of NuuLife Cinema, a Whistler-based snowboard film production company and got to stop by Floodway print company to learn a bit more about their screen-printing oriented business model.

Alex’s Insights:
I was very fortunate to visit Bit Space Development, in which I was able to test our some high-tech VR equipment. This was really exciting for me, because I am in the midst of carrying out a research project on the rise in virtual reality technology. Not only was it useful for that, but I had never had the opportunity to test out the technology before, so it was very exciting to see just how far technology has come!

From there, he headed over to the Forks, a must-see attraction for any visitor to Winnipeg. He and Jen walked around the facility to check out the local artwork and experience the area’s culture and history.

For his last entrepreneur visits of the day, Alex went to Style Bar, an authentic unisex apparel and accessories retailer and Green Carrot Juice Company, a natural ingredient juice producer that has been able to grow its business to three locations throughout the Winnipeg area. Lastly, Alex stopped by Aschenti Cocoa for a very inspiring and insightful overview of the business and its history.

Alex’s Insights:
To end the trip, I visited Aschenti Cocoa, a local chocolate manufacturer. This was perhaps my favorite stop in Winnipeg. Fanny and her husband are both immigrants who moved to Canada with a deep passion and love for creating high-grade chocolates that only a true chocolate aficionado can appreciate. After seeing a hole in the local market, they both seized the opportunity. I was shocked to discover that they actually own a farm back in Africa, their home continent, in which they farm and source all of their cocoa beans and then ship them to their location in Winnipeg for procurement. I was inspired by the fact that these two immigrants had come to Canada, started their own business that incorporated their passion and continued to keep a fluid connection to their home country, which created economic contributions to both local communities. Such a great story!

Before leaving Winnipeg, Alex returned to the Futurpreneur office to say my goodbyes to Liz, Joelle, and the rest of the staff at the North Forge office. After a short but sweet day in Winnipeg, Jen brought him to the airport to board his flight to Toronto.

Alex’s Final Thoughts:
An entrepreneur cannot be something to everyone and intend to be successful in doing so. Realistically speaking, an entrepreneur needs to define and carve their niche, focus solely on it, and then concentrate on doing it to the best of their abilities. This lesson was translated and reinforced by Floodway Print Company, who has chosen to offer strictly screen printing services to its customers, opposed to getting involved in a range of different embellishment services.