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

Meet the 2016 BDC Mentorship Award Winner

Mary Jane Copps

“My business is more efficient, more effective and more lucrative thanks to her insight. My level of awareness as a female entrepreneur has grown, thanks to her guidance. I am richer knowing her.”

Natasha Marchewka, Mentee

Mary Jane Copps
Owner/CEO, The Phone Lady
Region: Eastern
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mary Jane launched her first communications company in 1987 and, with a partner, grew it to a staff of nine. Selling her shares in 2001, she helped a wide variety of businesses grow revenue. In 2006, she introduced The Phone Lady brand, and has since worked with over 300 businesses, providing them with the skills to communicate effectively on the phone.

Mary Jane’s expertise has been included in The Wall Street Journal, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Huffington Post, CBC, CTV and more. She believes in entrepreneurship, knowing that providing support and sharing knowledge with other business owners allows everyone to thrive.

2016 Finalists

These individuals were selected by Regional Selection Committees to represent all of Canada in competition for the 2016 BDC Mentorship Award, presented by Futurpreneur Canada.

Hamish Knox

“Hamish deserves this award because he supports us without judgement, asks the questions that need to be asked, even the tough ones, with an amazingly elegant and nurturing approach.”

Sabrina Thomas, Mentee

Hamish Knox
President, Sales4 Training and Consulting Inc.
Region: Western
Calgary, Alberta

Hamish works with COPs (Chief Executives, Owners and Presidents) who seek having the edge that an accountable, growth-driven organization has over their competition.

Hamish is a former Sandler Global Rookie of the Year, and a current member of Sandler’s Franchisee Advisory Council. His first book, Accountability the Sandler Way, was published in November 2014 and his second book, Change the Sandler Way, will be published in September 2016.

Hamish is an active mentor with Futurpreneur Canada, a Maple Leaf Club donor to Enactus Canada and a volunteer judge for regional and national student entrepreneur competitions.

Ray DePaul

“Ray has been with me from literally having a drawing of an idea on a piece of paper, to having over $1M in revenue. He has been valuable in every step of the process.”

Derek Rucki, Mentee

Ray DePaul
Director, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Region: Western
Calgary, Alberta

Ray is the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University. He has been a successful entrepreneur, selling his company to Intel, and was also a key member of the team that brought the iconic BlackBerry to the world.

Ray is on the board of Innovate Calgary, as well as several private sector advisory boards, and is proud to be a mentor and advisor to many young entrepreneurs. He holds a Bachelors of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Sylvie Tendler

“[Sylvie] wants us to grow as individuals, and also see our business grow. She has been there at each step for us…with an eagerness to learn about our business, listen to our problems and draw on her experience to help.”

David Berliner, Mentee

Sylvie Tendler
President, Sylvie Tendler and Associates
Region: Central
Montréal, Québec

Sylvie is a leading pharmaceutical market research specialist and entrepreneur. In 2001, she founded The Tendler Group, a custom medical marketing research company. In 2007, the company was acquired by IntrinsiQ LLC (owned at the time by Accel-KKR). Sylvie stayed through 2010 to oversee the managerial transition following the acquisition. Sylvie continues to consult for domestic and international clients.

Sylvie holds a Master’s degree in International Management from the University of Maryland, and a Financial Management Certificate from Cornell University. She is a Board of Director at Knight Therapeutics (TSX: GUD).

Sylvie serves as an Executive Committee member of the selection committee of ProMontreal Entrepreneurs.

Peter Brown

“[Peter] takes the time to listen and fully understand my challenges… I also really admire him for continually educating himself and his willingness to share what he’s just learned. He ‘holds your feet to the fire’ when needed and praises you when deserved.”

Mark Watson, Mentee

Peter Brown
Business Program Consultant, Peter Brown Inc.
Region: Central
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Peter’s first business was an accounting practice in 1979, which he sold to a national accounting firm where he worked for four years. He then worked through a variety of engagements, from business start-ups and turn arounds to negotiating strategic alliances for Canadian companies internationally.

In 1998, he started a financial planning business, which he sold in 2008 to focus on coaching family businesses. Peter volunteers with the Kiwanis Club and chairs the Kiwanis Music Festival. This year, he is a Lieutenant Governor for the Golden Horseshoe region.

Peter has a wife, Anne, three daughters and two grandsons. He enjoys cooking, reading and travel.

Dr. Tom Cooper

“Dr. Cooper has hit all the targets of a great mentor: honest communication and feedback provided in a realistic context. He is an honest, capable man with a strong skillset, work ethic and a big heart. Couple this with the fact that he is a legitimate expert in his field and you have the makings of a great mentor.”

Niraj Shukla, Mentee

Dr. Tom Cooper
Associate Professor, Memorial University
Region: Eastern
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Dr. Cooper is an Associate Progress at the Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University. His research interests include risk management, strategic planning and Aboriginal business.

Tom has specific interests in social innovation and entrepreneurship as it relates to start-up organizations and communities. Tom’s mentoring approach is focused on being collaborative and participatory, aiming to make a difference in organizations, communities and people through entrepreneurship and business mentoring. He is currently an active mentor for a number of start-up companies in St. John’s and an informal mentor for a large number of other entrepreneurs.

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.