Entrepreneurs are poised to drive the next major wave of economic growth, but the wider community must do more to support these creative-minded innovators, Ernst & Young said today when revealing this year’s finalists for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®.
“Businesses — and countries — don’t grow by standing still,” explains Colleen McMorrow, National and Ontario Director of Entrepreneur Of The Year. “Entrepreneurial thinking empowers companies to generate new jobs, open new doors and seize new opportunities. But stakeholders — from governments to businesses to academia — must now work together to create a truly entrepreneurial ecosystem where creative-minded businesses can thrive.”
In a new global survey of entrepreneurs — Nature or nurture? — Ernst & Young uncovered that funding, people and know-how were the biggest barriers to entrepreneurial success. Among the six out of 10 respondents who experienced obstacles in their ventures, 33% called lack of funding or finance their biggest stumbling block.
McMorrow says that’s only the first issue. Entrepreneurs need improved access to credit in addition to new educational opportunities and less red tape. She also underlined better leadership from Corporate Canada, which stands to gain by building an internal spirit of entrepreneurship — or intrapreneurship — into their business model to promote innovation, creativity and fresh thinking.
“By establishing that kind of ecosystem, we can unleash limitless entrepreneurial potential,” adds McMorrow. “Entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see disruption. Even the financial crisis generated opportunities for those willing to seize them, and that bolsters the economy. But governments and corporations must renew their focus on this area to adequately support entrepreneurs.”
In April, an Ernst & Young/Financial Post survey found more than one-third of entrepreneur respondents were more optimistic about their company’s future prospects than they were just six months ago. McMorrow says that’s a positive step in the right direction.
“Entrepreneurs have not forgotten the lessons learned in leaner times. But they’re ready to look forward, and continue building on what they’ve already accomplished. With the right support from the broader community, entrepreneurs will continue to energize the economy in the months and years ahead,” says McMorrow.
The Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards celebrate the contribution and spirit of entrepreneurs everywhere. The Canadian program is in its 18th year of honouring the country’s most impressive entrepreneurs from all areas of business. Award winners are chosen based on their vision, leadership, financial success and social responsibility.
The Ontario winners will be announced at a banquet on November 2, and the overall winner will represent the region at the national banquet held in Toronto on November 23.
The 2011 Ontario finalists for Entrepreneur Of The Year:
Business-to-business products and services
Razor Suleman – I Love Rewards – Toronto – An employee-recognition solution that helps companies drive performance. Unlike traditional service award programs, it creates authentic moments of recognition that resonate with a multigenerational workforce.
Jennifer Nashmi, Victoria Sopik – Kids and Company Ltd. – Vaughan – Offers infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten, Montessori, and after-school child-care programs at locations across Canada.
Christopher Barnard, Rob MacLean – Points International Ltd. – Toronto – Has developed a proprietary technology platform of products and services designed to create value for loyalty programs and loyalty program participants alike.
David Farnell – Real Food for Real Kids Inc. – Toronto – Buys raw ingredients from all-natural, mainly local sources and transforms them into delicious, nutritious hot meals and snacks for kids in daycares and elementary schools across the Greater Toronto Area.
Business-to-consumer products and services
Dani Reiss – Canada Goose – Toronto – Manufactures the world’s best-quality outerwear, all made in Canada. In its 50+ years of manufacturing in Canada, the company has become an iconic, premier, premium, global brand.
Jeffrey Byunghun Min – Galleria Supermarket & Korea Food Trading – Vaughan – A wholesale supply business that imports Korean and Asian food products.
Bruce Murison – Standard Innovation Corporation – Ottawa – The most popular rechargeable vibrator for couples in the world, with over a million people using it to inject more fun and intimacy into their loving relationships.
David Kroetsch, Dr. Michael Peasgood – Aeryon Labs Inc. – Waterloo – Designs and manufactures small unmanned aerial vehicle systems for aerial sensing applications.
Kunal Gupta – Polar Mobile – Toronto – Enables world-class media companies to extend their brand and content to mobile through a scalable software platform.
Prakash Venkataraman – Redragon Oil & Gas Systems International Inc. – Cambridge – Canadian manufacturer of custom-engineered solutions for the utility and recycling industrial sectors globally, with distributors and agents on every continent.
Sujay Shah – Shashi Foods – Vaughan – A family-owned business focusing on making a product that reflects the finest raw ingredients available around the world. Shashi buys from farms that they have personally visited to ensure they maintain their high standards.
Media and entertainment
Paul Bronfman – Comweb Group/William F. White International Inc. – Toronto – A group of integrated entertainment firms dedicated to providing production-related services, studio facilities and equipment to the film and television industry.
Lorne Abony – Mood Media Corporation – Toronto – A leading in-store media specialist. Using music, visual and scent media, the company creates and delivers memorable consumer experiences that increase loyalty, create brand differentiation and maximize point-of-sale revenues.
Christina Jennings – Shaftesbury Films Inc. – Toronto – Founded in 1987, Shaftesbury is one of Canada’s leading creators, producers and distributors of original content for television and multiple platforms, with programming available in more than 120 countries worldwide.
Vladimir Stritesky – exp Global Inc. (formerly Trow Global) – Brampton – Engineering, project management, environment and urban planning.
Dr. Robert Francis, Shaun Francis – Medcan Clinic – Toronto – A private health-care clinic owned by a father-son team, which provides leading preventive medicine combined with five-star client service. Medcan detects disease in its early stage to allow early intervention, resulting in healthier outcomes.
Gloria Rajkumar – SIMAC Canada Inc. – Richmond Hill – A privately owned Canadian company established in 2001 to provide the insurance industry, employers and legal representatives with credible, unbiased and evidenced-based independent medical assessment reports.
Bill Malhotra – Claridge Homes Group of Companies – Ottawa – Ottawa’s leading residential builder, building nearly 700 homes and condominiums each year. Claridge has also developed commercial projects and retirement homes.
Tom Grifferty – First Canadian Title – Oakville – Provides a variety of real estate-related products and services, principally title insurance.
Dr. Ronald Schlegel – RBJ Schlegel Holdings Inc. – Kitchener – Encompasses five divisions: Schlegel Villages, Homewood Health Centre, Homewood Human Solutions, Schlegel Urban Developments and Farming.
John Poulos – Dominion Voting Systems Corporation – Toronto – Develops knowledge-based proprietary solutions and services for the elections industry, and markets, sells and licenses them to domestic international markets.
Dr. Sankar DasGupta – Electrovaya – Mississauga – Designs, develops and manufactures proprietary lithium ion superpolymer batteries, battery systems and battery-related products.
Kim Lewis – Liqui-Force Group of Companies – Kingsville – A leader in state-of-the-art, no-dig, trenchless pipeline rehabilitation for the clean-water, waste-water and other pipeline sectors.
David Ross – Ross Video Ltd. – Ottawa – Has a product line consisting of video production switchers, terminal equipment, video servers, production control systems, routing systems and character generators.
Mason Du – Benbria – Ottawa – A leading provider of intelligent notification solutions. Delivers an award-winning, next-generation notification solution that enables organizations to improve revenue, reduce costs, increase performance and enhance customer loyalty.
Matthew Corrin – Freshii – Toronto – A “Lettuce Eatery” devoted 100% to making a salad just the way you like it. Choose your greens, your toppings, your toppings’ toppings and, of course, your dressing.
Tal Dehtiar – Oliberté Footwear – Oakville – Wholesaler, retailer and manufacturer of premium leather foorwear made in Africa.
Special citation – Social entrepreneur
This special citation is a unique category among the awards. It’s given in recognition of an entrepreneur whose achievements have driven large-scale social change and improved people’s lives or quality of life.
Greg Overholt – Students Offering Support (SOS) – Waterloo – A social venture that supports chapters residing within universities across North America. Each chapter runs Exam-AID review sessions, taught by volunteers funding education projects in developing nations.