Last month Futurpreneur and 27 of the country’s diverse and growth-oriented young entrepreneurs represented the nation in Buenos Aires as the official Canadian delegation for the 2018 G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA ) Summit. More than 300 young entrepreneurs united at the global event to share innovative ideas, make valuable connections and discuss ways to advance youth entrepreneurship across the G20 nations.

Futurpreneur delegates Peter Francis of HelpMeOrder and Dallas Price of Leo Prestte shared their insights from the Summit and how the event is helping to pave the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Tell us about your business

Peter: My best friend Mina and I always had a hard time deciding what to order at restaurants.  We grew tired of asking the waiter for recommendations and constantly settling for the “safe” option on the menu.  Our vision was that restaurant menus would no longer be text based, they needed to be more visual and interactive. That’s how HelpMeOrder was born – it started off as a side project to create a ranking system where local foodies can vote for their favorite dish at each restaurant.  We were making good progress, but being engineers, we were trying to make it just perfect before we launch. That’s when we were introduced to Futurpreneur.  

I stumbled across an event posted on about a startup-101 session hosted by Futurpreneur and I decided to stop by. I’m sure glad I did. Our local Futurpreneur ambassador, Scott Andrews, introduced us to the whole startup eco-system in St. John’s and the rest was history.  We quickly joined an accelerator and we launched HelpMeOrder 3 short months later. Not only that, Scott helped us get a startup loan that we were able to leverage to get much needed grants that we used to hire our first employee.

Dallas: I co-founded and am the Director of Business Development at Leo Prestte . At Leo we develop brand identity systems for startups. We create the framework for how brands communicate both verbally and visually by developing communications strategies and design identities. We started In December of 2016 and it was my first entrepreneurial endeavor.

My path into entrepreneurship wasn’t the most traditional and was kind of random, to be honest. I wasn’t the type of kid who was selling hockey cards or magazines, and through most of university, I assumed I would get a job after I finished university. I had known my business partner for a while through basketball and we had a discussion about how he was starting an agency and wanted me to be a part of it. Forgoing the traditional job route I decided to take the plunge and within a few months, we were launched. It wasn’t long before I became hooked on the entrepreneur life and haven’t looked back since.

We were aware of Futurpreneur when we launched, however, we didn’t help initially contact them, although our first year probably would have run a lot smoother if we had contacted them earlier. However, when we were transitioning into our second year we needed some capital to assist in a pivot and we went through Futurpreneur’s financing program. The financing was great, and the loan was very manageable, but the biggest factor was the community we became a part of. We have a fantastic mentor we meet with regularly and attend Futurpreneur events whenever we have the chance.

Why were you interested in attending the G20 YEA Summit? 

Peter: When I found out that the theme for this year’s summit was related to educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, I was instantly hooked.  As a father of two small children, I constantly think about whether our antiquated education systems will be sufficient to arm them with the skills they need to face the challenges of tomorrow.  I was excited at the prospect of learning what some of the top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world had tried and what lessons were learned from their experiences. I wanted to be able to bring some of those ideas back to get the conversation going with our local governments about how we can affect positive change in our children’s education.

Dallas: I was really trying to get more involved in the entrepreneur community and also was feeling the need for a work vacation when our Regional Director – Liz Pelton brought up the opportunity. I jumped at the opportunity as I love meeting new entrepreneurs, and education is a topic I’m extremely passionate about. Getting the opportunity to travel to Argentina to spend a week with hundreds of other young entrepreneurs while discussing how we could improve entrepreneurial education sounded like a once in a lifetime experience and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I always did well in school but I did well because I understood the game. I mastered how to do well on tests and breezed through assignments but forgot the most important part about education, which is actually learning. It wasn’t until I created a pretty complex personal development plan that I truly fell in love with learning. When marks stopped and no one was there to assess my work other than myself, I started learning for myself and not because I had to. I haven’t met many entrepreneurs who actually believe the education system is working and I believe it’s on us to make the necessary changes to build the next generation of entrepreneurs.

What were you able to take away from the Summit? 

Peter: My experience in Buenos Aires was nothing short of outstanding.  I was initially nervous about the journey as I’ve never travelled somewhere where I didn’t know any of my companions before hand.  I joked that it’s not every day that you can make over 30 new close friendships in one day. To my pleasant surprise, our Canadian delegation was easily the friendliest, largest and most impressive collection of young entrepreneurs at the summit.  It was invigorating to learn about some of the incredible businesses being led by young Canadian talent. Our delegates were leading companies that are changing our world for the better by transforming the way internet browsing works, taking the lead on cybersecurity  and adding a social spin to working remotely just to name a few.

Before the Summit kicked off, Futurpreneur had organized for our delegation 2 full days of programming where we learned about the new and emerging opportunities for expanding business in Argentina.  One of those visits was to the Metropolitan Design Centre, this impressive complex used to operate as an old fish market and has been totally transformed into a state of the art design facility that provides guidance, resources and tools to Argentinian entrepreneurs to pursue all aspects of modern design.  It included a large workshop that provides training in 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality. Using a simple mobile app, the instructors demonstrated how augmented reality can be used to scan complicated devices and add interactive instructions and levers that are overlaid on the image of the physical object in real time.  This impressive technology immediately made me envision a future where HelpMeOrder can be used to augment traditional restaurant menus. With a simple scan of a smartphone camera, we can augment the menu with images, ratings, nutritional information and so much more. I’m certainly glad that I got to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m looking forward to harvesting the fruits of these ideas and relationships in the coming months.

Dallas: Attending the Summit is almost overwhelming to start with – you’re in a different country with 30 Canadians, most of which you had never met before, and then you’re surrounded by another 370 entrepreneurs from all over the world. However, there’s really an energy to the whole event. Rarely as an entrepreneur do you get to be surrounded by so many like-minded people, almost everyone being in a similar situation of not really knowing anyone, but everyone just became extremely comfortable with each other. The Canadian delegation especially was amazing where everyone got along and everyone was so open and accepting of each other.

The actual Summit was a two-day event highlighted by a morning keynote each day. The first keynote was an amazing presentation by Joan Cwaik discussing high technology and specifically on blockchain and its transformational opportunities. The other keynote was by Mica Beleni where she discussed her own entrepreneurial journey and what it was like being a founder of multiple companies at the age of 20.

My personal highlight of the Summit was called a Big F*ck Session where a panel discussed their largest mistakes including not getting paid upfront, improper hirings, and even accidentally giving a job to someone on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

The overall whole experience was truly amazing getting to explore a new country with 30 of your new best friends while getting to make a lasting impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem is an experience I will never forget. As an amazing as an experience, the best part of it all was the connections and friendships I gained over my time in Argentina. I can honestly say some of those people are some of my best friends and some will become lifelong business partners.

See the footage our delegates captured during their time at the G20 YEA Summit in our Instagram Events Highlights here.

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