When entrepreneurs go through Futurpreneur Canada’s Start-Up Program, along with receiving financing and access to key resources, they are also paired with a mentor for two years.

While this mentorship is extremely valuable for our entrepreneurs, it also works both ways. Many of our mentors say that they learn as much from their mentees as their mentees learn from them.

John Gregory, of Opencity Inc., is one of these mentors.

Currently residing in Kitchener, Ontario, John describes himself as, “an energetic Brit living in Canada,” with a passion for starting new initiatives. He started out as a sales representative for a global pharmaceutical company. From there, he worked in big and small pharmaceutical and medical device companies and eventually came to Canada in 2003.

“[The company I was working for] asked if I would be willing to move to Montreal for two years if they paid for everything,” says John. “It was the fastest decision I ever made.”

After writing a blog post during the 2012 Olympics that topped Google, John transitioned into more communications work. His extensive background in the healthcare industry lead him to his current position as a Strategy and Digital Communications Consultant with Opencity Inc., an agency that helps start-ups build thought leadership and brand authority online.

John first heard about Futurpreneur at a presentation at The Accelerator Centre in Kitchener. After experiencing the tech start-up ecosystem in the area, he was inspired to get involved and give back as a mentor.

Currently, he mentors Abby Tai, a holistic nutritionist and owner of PrimePhysique Nutrition. Not only has John helped Abby build her business, she has helped him with his podcast.

“Abby has considerable experience with 15 episodes of her The Eczema Podcast,” says John, “She has provided valuable suggestions to help bring my new Charity Spotlight podcast series to fruition.”

He also says he’s currently writing a book about start-ups, and his relationship with Abby and other members of his entrepreneurial community have provided him with excellent case studies.

However, beyond his personal benefits, John believes wholeheartedly in the power of mentorship in supporting Canada’s start-up ecosystem as a whole.

“We now live in a global society. Any Canadian startup is competing with competitors who can do the same thing, cheaper, from somewhere else in the world,” he says. “The most successful startups listen to the mentors, customers and emotional team that surround them.”

And for experienced professionals like himself, mentorship provides a sense of purpose.

“It extends your own networks, building new valuable links,” says John, who cites his experience presenting at a Futurpreneur Expert Exchange event as an example.

Of course, the mentorship road is not always a smooth one. John says he has personally struggled with taking a step back and allowing his mentee to solve their own problems.

“In working with other consulting clients and people in general, it is easy to say, ‘I’ll do that’ because you know it will be quicker and easier to do yourself,” says John. “However, that makes people dependent and doesn’t build their technical and problem-solving skills.”

Still, he says that he wishes that he had this kind of mentorship in his own career and offers a few nuggets of wisdom for prospective Futurpreneur mentors:

“Be open and honest. Be transparent. Treat the other person as you would like to be treated yourself. Put your ego aside and expect nothing in return except the curiosity of where the journey leads.”
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