Every year, Futurpreneur Canada selects a group of innovative and growth-oriented young Canadian entrepreneurs to attend the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (G20 YEA) Summit.
The opportunity gives young entrepreneurs the chance to advance their business abroad, make valuable international connections and explore the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Tynan Wenarchuk was one of the lucky few chosen to attend the 2017 summit in Berlin. Tynan is the founder of Illuminate Inc., a Calgary-based research and consulting firm that helps companies improve their workplace culture and employee experience.
We connected with Tynan to learn more about his G20 YEA experience and to give future delegates some insight into what to expect.
Why did you apply to become a G20YEA Delegate?
I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. At first, when I read the eligibility requirements, I instantly thought, “Well, that’s not me”.
When I understood what the real purpose of the G20YEA was, to share the opinions and the struggles of entrepreneurship, advocating for governments to become more entrepreneurial and aware of such challenges, I realized I did fit. I knew what it was like to be an entrepreneur, and what my needs are from governments and my peers.
Additionally, I have always been set on building a business with global impact. Knowing I would have the opportunity to plug into the European business ecosystem was a major bonus. Although I wasn’t perfectly prepared to go global, this was an amazing push towards a major goal of mine. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity.
Before attending the summit, you attended a Canadian Delegation Training Day in Toronto and a pre-summit activity in Berlin. What was that like?
When you first join the G20YEA Delegation, you really don’t know what to expect. But I remember the raging question being, “How can we make sure we bring the voice we have and become the representative voice for other Canadian entrepreneurs at the Summit?”
My suggestion to new delegates: take advantage of the time you have before the Summit. There’s a lot of opportunities for delegates to meet with their local provincial stakeholders and build up their research on issues or curate the opinions of entrepreneurs in their region that they should be bringing to the table. Be bold. You have the opportunity to be a forerunner to create changes. Hold an event or forum, invite influential people and diligently pursue deep and meaningful conversations about entrepreneurial challenges.
I know this for certain: If you compare, you will crumble. To other entrepreneurs, their success, or their ideas, it’s not worth the comparison.
We have a unique opportunity as entrepreneurs to celebrate others who are pioneers and forerunners of innovation, business and game-changing ideas. You can choose to focus on competition or recognize that there are always people in need of what you have to offer this world.
When touring Berlin and all of the different incubators and hubs, during our pre-itinerary, we experienced the equivalent to start-up innovation Disneyland. Exploring self-driving cars, the latest augmented reality tech, a fully sustainable city, incubators that are building into the world’s next great companies, I couldn’t have asked for a more comprehensive and impacting adventure.
The official Summit kicked off and there was a flurry of activity from roundtables and networking events to speeches, workshops and a Pitch Competition. What were some of your favourite activities that you participated in and why?
I loved the process of contributing to our communiqué. It’s a rare privilege to have an audience of the G20 leaders. I didn’t take this lightly, nor should anyone else in this role. Helping to lead a roundtable discussion on entrepreneurial education around the world was a major honour. We developed language, strategic research and insights that went directly into our communiqué.
It’s a wild experience to realize that as a young entrepreneur, you are speaking directly to world leaders through the G20YEA.
Overall, what do you feel you gained from your experience as a G20YEA delegate?
Most Canadian entrepreneurs struggle to think globally and after the Summit, my mindset on that was completely shattered. In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs know that in their first year of growth if they don’t expand into other countries, they’re losing. In Canada, if in five years you grow from Calgary to Edmonton, you’re doing well. Playing it safe is no longer an option.
Canadians can confuse politeness and humility with risk-aversion and fear. The G20YEA Summit exposed me to other young entrepreneurs that are intentionally thinking global. I knew I needed to bring this back with me – that it’s possible for every entrepreneur to think and act on a world stage.
How did your experience in Berlin help you to develop business and international connections?
The day I landed in Berlin, I reached out to my friend who lived in Copenhagen to inquire about a visit. Copenhagen is known as the world leader in happiness at work. At Illuminate, we specialize in workplace culture development. I knew it would be highly strategic and beneficial for us to meet with some of the leaders of Copenhagen-based companies.
With a bit of hard work and some well-constructed, hope-filled emails, in one week, I had arranged 10 engagements with tech founders and leaders. Definitely a miracle and a wonderful lesson in fearless business decision-making! Because of the G20YEA, I was able to elevate our company and serve our first international clients!
Why do you think it’s important for young entrepreneurs across the G20 to speak up and help to drive change?
As young entrepreneurs, we assume everything is supposed to be hard – but if we can share these problems, bring them to light, acknowledge what challenges or policies don’t work and provide solutions, our economy and communities are better off.
When we can unite our voices and create a louder voice for these issues, we can make better policies to support young entrepreneurs. The power of recognizing our collective voice matters.
What are your pieces of advice for entrepreneurs applying for the 2018 delegation in Argentina?
1. Act like a delegate before you’re chosen to be one.
Like in any circumstance, you don’t need to be given a title in order to be a leader. When you’re on the ground in the host country, walk fearlessly. I can almost guarantee that someone at the Summit needs your support, advice, or whatever your business provides.
Our Canadian Trade Commission Service will support you in setting up meetings with businesses in their network. Take full advantage of this. If they come back without a match, adjust your offer and ask how you can make something happen.
While at the Summit, being ferocious about connecting and building relationships is key. Intertwine business conversations while having fun exploring the host city. But don’t waste time. Take full advantage of booking side-meetings with delegates that you meet and don’t hesitate… seize the opportunities before you!
2. Let the experience be about more than just you.
Do the pre-work, have the meetings, talk to your community, create some buzz and realize you’re a representative and a voice for young entrepreneurs.
How can G20YEA delegates make the most of their experience?
Plan ahead. For example, work your tail off to get five deals or opportunities in the host country. “Do what you do,” step into your element and make way for your expectations to be blown out of the water. Await your “voila moment”… you now have global clients in Buenos Aires!
Be bold and open to changing your mindset and growing as a business owner. You were created for greatness, don’t forget it!
Looking to help shape policy while exploring new markets for your business? Be part of the 2018 Canadian Delegation to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Buenos Aires! Apply now.