Jeff Ryzner of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the 2015 winner of the BDC Mentorship Award.

Meet the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Winner

Jeff Ryzner

“[Jeff’s] enterprise level marketing background was a critical part of meeting our goals. Without him, we would not be where we are today. Due to his help from marketing through to networking and human resources, we are able to change the world for the better… Jeff has never asked for anything, but his contributions have been enormous.”

Matthew Hudson, Mentee

Jeff Ryzner
Winner, 2015 BDC Mentorship Award, Presented by Futurpreneur Canada
Vice President
The Eureka Project
Region Represented: Central
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Jeff Ryzner has been helping companies successfully commercialize technology for almost 20 years. He is a founding partner of three tech startups, including two SaaS-based software solutions for health care facilities in North America.

Jeff is very active in the startup community and works with companies every day through a variety of entrepreneurial support organizations including Futurpreneur, ICTAM, Innovate Manitoba, New Media Manitoba, Startup Winnipeg and The Eureka Project.

Today Jeff is a senior management consultant and the founder of Endgame Business Strategy, an aboriginally owned and operated consultancy that works with technology companies and startup support organizations across Canada.

Read the Futurpreneur Blog to learn more about Jeff Ryzner.

Meet the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Finalists

These individuals were selected by Regional Selection Committees to represent all of Canada in competition for the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award, presented by Futurpreneur Canada.

Greg Sutton

“Greg has always been someone I look up to and more importantly trust. His innate ability to mentor is second to none. He listens, processes, and then asks the right questions. He is a true mentor as he is always “coaching” not telling. He knows that I have the right answers deep down and he always finds a way to help me come to my own realizations.”

Katherine Regnier, Mentee

Greg Sutton
TinyEYE Therapy Services
Region Represented: West
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Greg Sutton is the Co-Founder and CEO of TinyEYE Therapy Services, the first company in the world to provide speech language pathology services online. Greg and his sister/business partner, Marnee Brick, have taken their company from being a small start-up to emerging as the world leader in online speech therapy – providing services in 12 countries and 5 languages. It is TinyEYE’s vision to be the number one advocate in the world for children finding their voice.

Previous to TinyEYE, Greg spent 5 years as the Executive Director for the Saskatchewan Advanced Technology Association. During the dot com boom of the late 90’s, Greg was part of the Management Team for a start-up web based travel guide company in South East Asia. When the tech bubble burst, the company was dot gone, and Greg moved on to South America where he wrote travel guides for the Amazon region.

Greg has a bachelor’s of commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, is a windsurfing fanatic, plays hockey year round, and resides in Saskatoon with his lovely wife Michelle.

Bryan Watson

“Bryan is examplar of what a mentor needs to be. He opens the doors you need to learn, provides coaching when required, and provides a sounding board to work through new challenges. Bryan is an integral part of Toronto’s start up community, leveraging his network and experiences to help young companies like mine. Bryan listens to your unique business needs and does not try to apply a one-size fits all approach. He seeks to understand and works to give you tools you need to be a success. As a solo-founder, it’s been great having Bryan in my corner.”

Mark Lesiw, Mentee

Bryan Watson
EP Enterprises Inc.
Region Represented: Central
Toronto, Ontario

A serial and social entrepreneur, Bryan believes that entrepreneurship is a critical life skill and is key to economic growth. For over a decade, Bryan has mentored hundreds of companies believing that strong mentorship can mean the difference between success and failure. Bryan has also indirectly supported entrepreneurs though founding such organizations as StartupDrinksTO as well as advised all levels of government regarding entrepreneur-supporting initiatives. A Chevening Scholar, Bryan has also been Director and Executive Director of organizations such as the National Angel Capital Organization, Precarn Incorporated, CleanTech North and a plethora of growth companies.

Serge Dion

“Serge gives 110% all the time. He is available to gives advice and provides help and solutions every step of the way. He listens and speaks his mind. He shares his knowledge as best he can with all of his mentees. If he can’t meet a need or answer a question, he does some research and finds mentors in his network who are able to help. He is always available.”

Karen Alexandra Preston, Mentee

Serge Dion
Engineer and economist
Region Represented: Central
Montréal, Quebec

Serge Dion is a typical intrapreneur from a great Québec corporation. Now retired, after a fruitful career at Hydro-Québec, Serge worked in every major division as an industrial engineer and economist.

Serge is active among many mentoring cells in Montreal. In the last 5 years, he has mentored more than a dozen entrepreneurs at different stages of their business development, even start-ups. Thanks to this experience, Serge has developed a new approach to enhance the efficiency of mentoring interventions and he gives frequent workshops on business model generation for young entrepreneurs.

Ellen Farrell

“Entrepreneurship is a tough, but Ellen makes herself available to listen. Ellen is up to date with current trends, is well connected and has been a valuable resource for my company. Ellen was the first person I contacted when I had an idea about starting a business. She was the first to pilot our software and has never looked back. Without her guidance and taking a risk in me and my product, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Matthew Fanning, Mentee

Ellen Farrell
Associate Professor
Saint Mary’s University
Region Represented: East
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Ellen is a PhD in Entrepreneurial Finance and leads the Entrepreneurship programs at Sobey School of Business. She is on the Board of SMU Enactus and has coached dozens of entrepreneurs to hundreds of thousands of dollars in finance. Some of her mentees have successfully exited very profitable firms, and others have gone on to lead publicly traded companies. Ellen’s entrepreneurial portfolio in manufacturing, communications, and real estate development contribute to her credibility. She is so inspired to help entrepreneurs that she created the Order of Entrepreneurship — an award that recognizes students who are putting themselves through university by running their own businesses. Her ground-breaking work in Entrepreneurial Ecosystem research contributes to her insight with the entrepreneurial community, and she has won and been nominated for 12 teaching and mentorship awards. Part of her value proposition is to provide all of her mentees with access to great contacts and relationships derived from her own personal network.

Tom Cooper

“Dr. Cooper is one of the most motivating, positive individuals I have ever met. He sees the potential in everyone and allows them to reach higher levels of achievement by encouraging them to develop their skills while still providing a realistic perspective on the situation as a whole. Many, many people have learned from his efforts. He is involved in many different activities all with the eventual goal of encouraging others to better themselves and achieve their goals.”

Niraj Shukla, Mentee

Tom Cooper
Associate Professor – Faculty of Business
Memorial University
Region Represented: East
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Tom is currently an Associate professor at the Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

He lectures in the areas of strategy, risk management, management consulting at both an undergraduate and graduate level. His research is primarily focused on the interplay between strategy and risk management.

Tom also acts as an advisor to a number of organizations in Canada and is a Certified Management Consultant. He is the current Chair of StartupNL and a private investment firm Freshwater Capital. He is also a past Board Member with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Devon Brooks

“Devon is so much more than just a mentor. She is now family, she is now a friend, she is a coach and an advisor. She has helped us grow both personally and as a business. Life is beyond business and Devon has always made sure that we are finding balance between our personal lives and our business lives.”

Zach Berman, Mentee

Devon Brooks
Advisor and Activator, Co-Founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar
Region Represented: West
British Columbia

Devon defined a new market category, co-founding Blo Blow Dry Bar in 2006. Born from a second-year university project, the company spans four countries, with 52 locations, and has collaborated with international mega brands like Mattel, Guess and Gwenyth Paltrow. PROFIT Magazine, and have named her 1 of the 30 most Fabulous entrepreneurs in Canada. Devon believes in elevating ecosystems through entrepreneurship and activism. Canada’s Minister of Labour and The Status of Women, featured her this year during Women’s History Month; and, McGraw-Hill Ryerson have highlighted Devon in the textbook edition of ‘Balderson: Canadian Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management’ set to be released in 2014.

Devon Brooks has recently joined the Futurpreneur Canada Board of Directors. As a result, she has withdrawn her application to the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award. Futurpreneur Canada is delighted to have an outstanding mentor like Devon join our Board of Directors and add her experience, knowledge and passion to the mission of promoting youth entrepreneurship in Canada.

Terms & Conditions

The application period begins on February 2, 2016, at 12:00:01 a.m. Eastern Time and ends on February 26, 2016, at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time. No application submitted after 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time will be accepted. Only online applications will be accepted.


To be eligible for the BDC Mentorship Award contest (“the Contest”), the applicant must:

  1. Be a living Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  2. Have mentored entrepreneurs from two or more Canadian businesses that have shown demonstrable growth in revenue, sales or employees during the time of the mentorship.
  3. Have been involved in a minimum of two mentoring relationships lasting at least one year each.
  4. Volunteer their time as mentor (through an organizational mentoring initiative or by an oral or written agreement with an entrepreneur).
  5. Not have a financial interest or stand to make a financial gain from the entrepreneur’s business.

An applicant does not need to be a BDC client or a Futurpreneur Canada mentor to be eligible. BDC and Futurpreneur Canada employees and their families and 2015 contest judges and their families are not eligible.


To successfully enter the Contest, applicants must:

  1. Complete all required fields of the online application form; and
  2. Provide any relevant and supporting materials such as reports or samples.

BDC, Futurpreneur Canada, its advertising and promotion agencies and the Contest judges (collectively the “Contest Parties”) are not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, delayed, incomplete or incompatible application files.

By submitting an application file, the nominator, mentor and mentees agree that the application file comply with all conditions stated in the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Terms and Conditions.

The Contest Parties will bear no liability, expressed or implied, regarding the use of the application file by the Contest Parties and shall be held harmless by any applicant in the event that it is subsequently discovered that the applicant has departed from or not fully complied with any of the Terms and Conditions.


By participating in the Contest, each applicant agrees to be bound by the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Terms and Conditions and by their interpretation by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, and further warrants and represents that his/her application:

  1. does not and will not violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation; and
  2. is not defamatory, trade libelous or obscene, and further that it will not contain, depict, include, discuss or involve, without limitation, any of the following:
    • derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups;
    • content that endorses, condones or discusses any illegal, inappropriate or risky activity, behavior or conduct;
    • personal information of individuals, including without limitation, names and addresses (physical or email);
    • conduct or other activities in violation of the Contest Terms and Conditions;
    • commercial messages, comparisons or solicitations for products or services, other than the business represented in the application form; and
    • any other content that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, all as determined by BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and/or the Contest judges at their sole discretion.

Any application file that BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and/or the Contest judges deem, in their sole discretion, to violate the Terms and Conditions will be rejected and the applicant will be disqualified.


Regional Selection Committee

Three selection committees – East (NL, PEI, NS and NB), Central (QC, ON and MB) and West (SK, AB, BC, YK, NWT and NU) – comprised of a regional BDC representative, Futurpreneur Canada representative and an entrepreneur or mentor representative will review applications and evaluate them based on a standard evaluation grid.

The following components of the application file will be reviewed by individual judges:

  • Demonstration that the mentor builds awareness and promotes the value of mentorship in his or her community;
  • Demonstration of business impact or growth (for example, but not limited to: revenue, number of employees, sales, etc.);
  • Demonstration that the mentor contributed to measureable success (for example, but not limited to: increase of confidence, financial literacy, time management skills, etc.); and
  • Validation of his or her contributions by references/entrepreneurs-mentees.

Once all application files have been evaluated, the Regional Selection Committees will determine who should be considered as potential finalists from their respective provinces or territories. Up to two mentees of the potential finalists will then be contacted by phone or email and one mentee will be required to submit their company’s financial information (revenues, profit and loss) within two business days of notification. If such financial information is not available, finalists will be required to submit the balance sheet and internal income statements for the past 12 months, together with the previous year’s, as well as any supporting materials to establish the claims made in the application form.

Upon receipt of financial information, the full application file will be subjected to due diligence, including reference checks. Once the due diligence has been completed, the potential finalist for each region will be contacted by email or phone early April, 2015 during business hours (Eastern Time). If applicants have not been contacted by mid-April, they may assume that they are not among the finalists.

Before being declared a regional finalist, the selected applicant must sign and return a declaration and release prepared by Futurpreneur Canada, which, among other things must:

  1. be received by Futurpreneur Canada within two business day of notification;
  2. confirm compliance with the Terms and Conditions; and
  3. acknowledge acceptance of the finalist designation or potential BDC Mentorship Award Finalist if applicable;
  4. release the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns from any liability in connection with this contest;
  5. agree to indemnify the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses arising from the use of his/her application, including without limitation, any claim that his/her application infringes a proprietary interest of any third party.

If a potential finalist for a region cannot be reached by phone or email or fails to return the above declaration and release within the specified time, he/she will forfeit his/her opportunity to become a finalist for the BDC Mentorship Award. In such an event, the applicant whose application scored the second highest by the selection committee for his/her respective region will be deemed to be the alternate potential finalist for his/her province/the combined territories. The same administrative procedure as mentioned above will apply to the alternate potential finalist. If the alternate finalist cannot be reached by phone or email or fails to return the required documents within the specified timeframe, he/she will forfeit his/her opportunity to be a finalist.

National Selection Committee

Following the due diligence process, the finalist from each province and the three territories will be forwarded to the National Selection Committee, who will interview the finalists in person or online mid-April. The winner of the BDC Mentorship Award will be chosen by the National Selection Committee based on interviews with all finalists.


The winning mentor will receive:

  • An invitation to the Action Entrepreneurship: Growing Young Enterprise Canadian Summit in Toronto in May, with travel and accommodation included (as specified by Futurpreneur Canada and BDC), and the option of delivering an acceptance speech to an audience of hundreds of entrepreneurs and business, policy, education, non-profit and other leaders aiming to expand youth entrepreneurship in Canada;
  • Prominence in a national press release and through social media, including background information about his or her accomplishments and national recognition;
  • Offers to participate in BDC and/or Futurpreneur events during 2015; and
  • A trophy, recognizing him or her as the Recipient of the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Presented by Futurpreneur Canada.


The Contest Parties will keep all applications confidential. Unless the applicant authorizes BDC and Futurpreneur Canada to contact him/her for marketing or business development purposes, the personal data, information and documents included in the application file (“the Information”) will be kept confidential by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada according to their privacy policies and will be used only during the evaluation process and in the course of administering the Contest. In the course of an application’s evaluation, the Information will be divulged only to parties who are authorized to review it. If the applicant authorizes BDC to contact him/her for marketing or business development purposes, the Information may be provided to a BDC or Futurpreneur Canada representative, who will get in touch with the applicant to evaluate his/her needs. Notwithstanding the above, if a mentor is selected as a finalist, the finalist hereby authorizes BDC and Futurpreneur Canada to use the responses included in his/her application file, BDC and Futurpreneur Canada’s websites and other advertising/commercial material developed by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, without the need to obtain any additional consent from the finalist. No financial data on the mentee’s company will be divulged. In all cases, the finalist’s Information will be retained by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada for analysis or statistical purposes, among others.

Each applicant expressly consents to BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, its agents and/or representatives, storing, sharing and using the personal information submitted with his/her entry only for the purpose of administering the Contest and in accordance with BDC and Futurpreneur Canada’s respective privacy policies, unless the applicant otherwise agrees.


Without limitation, the Contest Parties will not be liable for:

  • website failure during the Contest;
  • any technical malfunction or other problems relating to the telephone network or lines, computer systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment or software; or
  • the failure of any application file to be received by Futurpreneur Canada, its advertising and promotion agencies or the Contest judges for any reason including, but not limited to, technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website; or any combination of the above.

The Contest parties shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions in the advertising or administration of this Contest.

The Contest Parties will not be liable for any damage to an Applicant’s application or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading any material for the Contest.


By entering the Contest, the applicant hereby:

(i) agrees to release and hold harmless the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns from and against any and all claims based on publicity rights, defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement or any other intellectual property-related cause of action;

(ii) in consideration of being selected as a finalist or winner and receiving the BDC Mentorship Award described above, agrees to the use of his/her name, business, city, province or territory of residence, and/or photograph/logo for advertising or publicity purposes by BDC, Futurpreneur Canada or its designees, the whole without any right for compensation and without the need for BDC, Futurpreneur Canada or its designees to obtain any further authorization or consent.

In the event of any conflict, inconsistency or discrepancy between any advertising relating to this Contest and the terms of the Terms and Conditions, the terms of the Terms and Conditions shall govern. In the event of any conflict, inconsistency or discrepancy between the French and English versions of the Terms and Conditions, the terms of the English version of the Terms and Conditions shall govern.

BDC and Futurpreneur Canada reserve the right, without any previous notice, to withdraw or modify this Contest and/or the Terms and Conditions without any justification to the applicants including, but not limited to, in the event of an advertising or administrative error, omission, technical problem, computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failure or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of BDC and Futurpreneur Canada that interferes with the proper conduct of the Contest as contemplated by the Terms and Conditions.

Any attempt to deliberately damage any website or to undermine the legitimate operation of this Contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, BDC and Futurpreneur Canada reserve the right to seek remedies and damages to the fullest extent permitted by law.

The decisions of BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and the Contest judges with respect to all aspects of this Contest are final and binding on all applicants without right of appeal.